Parliament of the World’s Religions

October 15 – 19, 2015 Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

The Parliament is the oldest, the largest, and the most inclusive gathering of people of all faiths and traditions. The first Parliament took place in 1893. Since, this historic event has taken place in Chicago USA, Cape Town South Africa, Barcelona Spain, Melbourne Australia, and now  Salt Lake City, Utah! Ten thousand people from over 80 countries and 50 different religious and spiritual traditions came together to share, learn, and network.  

The 2015 Parliament continued our rich tradition of initiating dialogue and nurturing relationships among people of difference, providing a framework for expressing many visions of a just, peaceful, and sustainable future. This shared commitment has opened the way for a new era of cooperative action among the world’s religious and spiritual communities as well as civil and political societies. The well-being of Earth and all life depends on this. It was an honor to do Interpretive Touch Drawing throughout this potent event. Click on the images to see them enlarged. Signed fine art prints in three sizes are available. Write code of selected drawing and click on ‘order print’. 

Find out more about Interpretive Touch Drawing.


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“Oh My. You have more than enough for a new set of Soul Cards!!!!  I love these images. Your work captures the human journey: joy, angst, sorrow, hope, doubt, faith, ecstasy, and much more. It serves to help us tap into our own intuition and deep knowing. Thank you!”

Justine Willis Toms, D.H.L.
Co-founder, Executive Director, Host New Dimensions Radio
After witnessing Deborah’s 176 drawings created during the Parliament


On Feminine Ground: 
The Alchemy of Our COLLECTIVE Wisdom and Strength 
A Sacred day of circle with 100 women in preparation for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. This event was planned by a circle of women representing several women’s organizations (Women of Spirit and Faith, Gather the Women, Millionth Circle, Association for Global New Thought, SARAH) It was a blessing to be a part of this circle.


The Women’s Assembly




The Women’s Assembly  provides an important opportunity for women to address and discuss two areas of vital interest: the responsibility of the world’s religions to affirm women’s dignity and human rights and religious and spiritual inspiration for women’s empowerment. 



Women’s Assembly Session 1

Alaina Buffalo Spirit, Ilyasah Shabazz, Mallika Chopra, Diana Butler Bass, Be’sha Blondin, Ruth W. Messinger, Phyllis Curott, Mother Maya Tiwari, Dr. Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere, Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.


Women’s Assembly Session 2

Arleen Adams,  Kiran Bali,  Bishop Barbara King, 
Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina, Aisha H.L. Al-Adawiya
Dr. Vandana Shiva, Yuka Saionji, Terry Tempest Williams



    Women’s Assembly     

Closing Ceremony




Opening Ceremonies of the Parliament

The time to come together has finally arrived! People of faith working together for a more peaceful, just and sustainable world are assembled once again in the USA for the first time in more than 20 years. We join forces with the next generation of interfaith men and women ready to lead the movement forward. The Indigenous nations of Utah and the Grand Basin will lead a Grand Procession of spiritual luminaries from traditions around the world and offer prayer, performance, and encouraging words of wisdom. Hosts from the State of Utah and Salt Lake, in addition to local religious leaders, reflect upon the significance of the world’s religions working in harmony. Answering a call to all communities of faith and goodwill, the Parliament opening celebration ignites our spirits of togetherness to face our global challenges as a community.

Governor Gary Herbert, Elder Clayton,  Rabbi David Saperstein, Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Indarjit Singh,  Mayor Ralph Becker, Mayor Ben McAdams, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Mr. Fahad Abualnasr,  Adama


Plenary 1: Focus on Women

This plenary brought together diverse female religious leaders to address the vital nexus of women and religion. These leaders shared their collective wisdom for the empowerment of all, in addition to celebrating achievements within the interfaith movement. A major declaration was issued that discusses religious and spiritual sources of inspiration and empowerment for women, the transformative impact of women on their religious traditions, and women’s unique contributions to meeting global challenges. The majority of attendees and speakers at this Parliament were women, and their voices were represented at this plenary as we all commit  to a better future.

Dr. Vandana Shiva , Marianne Williamson, Mother Maya Tiwari, Dr. Serene Jones, Valarie Kaur,  Mara Lynn Keller, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Bishop Barbara King, Grandmother Mary Lyons, Sheika Anse Tamara Gray, Phyllis Curott, Kate Jo Welch, Audrey Kitagawa, Sara Rahim, Rabbi Amy Eilberg


Plenary 2: Focus on Emerging Leaders

Be inspired by the undertakings of young leaders from around the world as they tackle global issues utilizing charismatic leadership and revolutionary innovation. Join activists, peacemakers, artists, and more in an electric evening celebrating youth as not only the “leaders of tomorrow”, but also recognizing the leadership of young people today. The Emerging Leaders Task Force issue a Call to Action at the conclusion of the plenary. 

Eboo Patel, R. Ravindran, Ta’Kaiya Blaney,  Zachery James Hunter, Barbara Lee,  Andrea Zucker,  Suzanne Barakat, Faatimah Knight, Honey and the Sting, Tai Go Drummers, Isobel Arthen Earth Spirit, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Dawn Maracle, Donovan Arthen 


Panel: Kill them (Qu’ran), Do Not Spare Them (Torah), and Cast Them Into Everlasting Fire (New Testament): Context of Difficult Religious Texts
While public opinion polls put the established religions among the most respected institutions in the society, there is a persistent notion that religion is a force which divides people instead of them together. For this reason, the interfaith movement has taken the Hans Kung quote as a mantra, “No Peace Among Nations until Peace Among the Religions.” Some of the criticism of religion is driven by the abuse of the sacred texts by extremists. It is therefore of high importance that interfaith movements understand the actual context of the difficult passages in the scriptures and how they are understood by different groups; only then can they be truly effective in developing harmony between faith communities.

Karen Armstrong, Lynn Gottlieb, Jonathan Brown, Chloe Breyer

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Plenary 3: Spotlight on Income Inequality

Poverty is a moral issue that that is shared by people of all faiths. In this plenary, experts and religious leaders focus on systematic income inequality and widening wealth disparity in the both the USA and around the world and what we can do to address it. A major declaration is released calling the attendees of the Parliament to action. On a personal note, my husband, Ross Chapin, is among the Mevlevi Order of America Whirling Dervishes performing at the end of the session, beginning at 1:37:50.

Michael Bernard Beckwith,  Kathy Kelly, Jim Wallis, Barbara Lee, Chloe Breyer, Dr. Rami Nashashibi, with a recorded message for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who was unable to attend due to health. 


Plenary 4: Focus on War, Violence and Hate Speech

How does hate speech and discrimination lead to dehumanization, violence and war? Experts, analysts, and lifetime champions of peace discuss the current state of the political, racial, and religious strife that plagues the globe, as well as strategies to stem conflict and pursue peaceful resolutions. A declaration signed by the world’s religious leaders is issued at this plenary, calling people to stand against hate and to pursue peace and justice. 

Allan Boesak, Karen Armstrong, Jane Goodall, Ph.D.,  Medea Benjamin, John L. Esposito, Tariq Ramadan,  Vishwanath Karad, Mairead Maguire, Robert Pape, H H Dr. Vasanth Vijayji Maharaj


Plenary 5: Focus on Climate Change

The Parliament has been at the leading edge of environmental sustainability since it adopted the vision of a “sustainable world” as part of its mission, shortly before the first modern Parliament in 1993. The time is now for faith communities to bring our congregations to the conversation surrounding environmental sustainability, which not only encourages it at a personal level to avoid wasteful living, but also to engage the guiding institutions of our nations and the world to take the urgent steps necessary to save our shared home. Join in action as we sign a declaration on this critical issue. 

Brian D. McLaren, Jonathan Granoff, Jawad Khaki, Marc Ian Barasch, Katharine Hayhoe, Chief Arvol Lookinghorse, Francois Paulette Dene, Karenna Gore, His Excellency Dr. Saleh Abdullah M. Bin Himeid, with a special video message from Vice President Al Gore. 


Sacred Music Night

Many Faiths – One Family at the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, by the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable 


Welcome: Iman Dr. Abdul Malik Mujahid, Carole Mikita, Elder Edward Dube, Indigenous Ceremonial Prayer: Traditional Tribal Ceremonial Relatives of North America, Muslim Call to Prayer: Masood UI-Hasam, Jewish Blessing: Alan Scott Bachman, Invocation: Quaker Elaine Emmi and Episcopal Rev. Canon Caryl Marsh

Musical and Dance Prayers: Presbyterian: Utah Pipe Band, Buddhism: ‘The Heart of Chan’ Tibetan vocalist Yang Jin Lamu, with drummers and young champion of swordplay, Divya School of Dance ‘Bharatanatyam’ in praise of Lord Ganesha, Catholic: Saint Ambrose Parish Choir ‘The Prayer’ by Rene Clausen, Music of India: Aashish Khan and Inner Voyage: ‘Under the Stars’ a Mishra Kafi Raag, Youth Multifaith Choir: Multidenominational choir composed of children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Sihk, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, and Bahai faiths, Sikh: Kultar Singh Jatha ’Sabad Keertan’, Bahai Choir: ‘Oh Son of Being, Love Me’ from the sacred writings of Baha’u’llah, Cambodian Buddhist: Khemera Dance Troupe ‘Robaim Choun Por’ the Blessing Dance, Jainism: Kummar Chatterjee ‘Jain Mantra, Sutra and Stotra’, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: The Orem Utah LDS Institute Choir accompanied by Linda Margetts on the tabernacle organ ‘Let Us Press On’, Burundi Drum Group: Utah refugees from Burundi directed by Alex Ngendakuriyo, The Mevlevi Order of America Whirling Dervishes: Directed by Makam Postneshin Jelaludin Loras in the lineage of Hazreti Mevlana Jelaludin Rumi. Musicians under the tutelage of Prof Timucin Cevikoglu from Ankara, Turkey

Plenary 6: Spotlight on Indigenous Peoples

This plenary is a gathering of Indigenous voices speaking with wisdom and deep concern for urgent action for right relationships and the preservation of all life on Mother Earth. The momentum built at the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples at the Melbourne Parliament is carried forward by issuing a declaration at this plenary which serves as a guiding document for the interfaith movement.

Chief Arvol Lookinghorse, Chief Oren Lyons, Wande Abimbola, Arnold Thomas, Dr. Rangimarie Turuki, Rose Pere Tohuna of the Maori People, Inija Trinkūnienė, Grandmother Flordemayo Curandera Espiritu of the Mayan People, Iriama Margaret Lokawua, Steven Newcomb, Ta’Kaiya Blaney, Dr. Wilson Aronilith, Jr, Iyekiyapiwin Darlene St. Clair


Closing Plenary: Commissioning

We conclude as we celebrate the interfaith movement with a night to remember, along with closing remarks from interfaith leaders including some exciting announcements about the future of the Parliament.

Imam Malik Mujahid, Omar Suleiman, John Dayal, Parliament Trustees and others 

“It was so inspiring to witness you rendering impressions that I couldn’t see but could feel as you moved your hands on the paper. Thank you for adding embodied image making to this glorious Parliament.” Comment by Parliament participant

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Tammy

    Your most powerful spiritual images yet!

  2. Roberta Shoemaker-Beal

    Thanks so much, Deborah, … for this beautiful collection of Touch Drawings from the World Parliament of Religions. I had wanted to attend, and now feel I ha e been there, through your wonderful Touch drawings. So inspiring to feel and sense the gathering of great, good souls. You send many blessings out around the World by sharing these images……….. Many blessings on your generous good works. Gratefully. Namaste, Roberta of The Creatas Center
    *** Roberta Shoemaker-Beal, a long time admiring art therapist. May your life be ever blessed by your boundless and profound creativity so generously shared. ***

  3. barbara

    what a beautiful form of service for an artist’s hands

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