NORTHAMPTON, Mass — When the Parliament of the World’s Religions was staged in Salt Lake City last year, thousands of people gathered for this interfaith event. Being first held in 1893, the parliament is the oldest event of its kind, and others, which have emerged since, have not yet stripped it of its unique characteristics. One way the parliament stands out is in the fact that minority religions, including indigenous and Pagan ones, are given a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion. The Wild Hunt sat down with vice-chair Andras Corban-Arthen during A Feast of Lights to talk about the parliament, his duties within the organization, and what he sees in its future. Among his several responsibilities, Corban-Arthen is chair of the site selection committee, which is responsible for assessing potential sites for the next session.
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SALT LAKE, Utah — In one week, thousands of people from all over the world will descend on Salt Lake City to participate in the Parliament of the World Religions.
In recent weeks I have stressed the importance of national and international interfaith efforts by modern Pagans, how this form of outreach can bring attention to issues we face and build important alliances in the global faith community. One of our most important achievements in this area has been with the Parliament of the World’s Religions, where the modern conception of “interfaith” was born in 1893. It was at the revived 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago that modern Paganism effectively “came out” to the global interfaith movement, and where we established ourselves as faiths to be taken seriously. “The Pagan presence at the Parliament was historic. The fact that this Parliament included Pagan group sponsors, speakers, and delegates in the first place was noteworthy, since Nature religions were excluded from the first Parliament.
Top Story: While the mainstream media has been generally focused on controversial statements from Harry Reid in John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s “Game Change,” a new book about the 2008 presidential election, there are some other surprising revelations to be found. For instance, did you know that Rielle Hunter, who famously had an affair with presidential candidate John Edwards (and most likely bore his child), was (allegedly) Pagan? “There was nothing legit, however, about Hunter’s behavior. It was freaky, wildly inappropriate, and all too visible. She flirted outlandishly with every man she met.
05. Jose Merced, Santeria, and Animal Sacrifice: The battles over animal sacrifice, and the legal rights of adherents to Santeria, were in my top ten last year, and things have only intensified since then. The biggest story was the resolution of a case involving a Santero, Jose Merced, who was restricted from practicing his religion in Euless, Texas, due to the town’s animal slaughter laws. Merced, who lost his initial challenge to the law, was backed in his appeal by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and ultimately prevailed in his case. “If this decision is ultimately allowed to stand, Merced v. City of Euless could be the case that takes the precedent initially established in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah nationwide, clearing the way for legal animal sacrifice in religious ceremonies.”