A Short History of Religions for Peace USA’s First 15 Years
Religions for Peace USA (RFPUSA) is the largest and most broadly-based representative multi-religious forum in the United States, with participants from more than 45 religious communities, representing diversity within in each of the major faith traditions and many of the minor ones.
The mission of RFPUSA is to inspire and advance common actions for peace through multi-religious cooperation among our nation’s religious communities.
RFPUSA identifies shared commitments among religious communities in the U.S., enhances mutual understanding among these communities, and facilitates collaboration to address issues of common concern. The current foci are: protecting religious minorities and advancing religious freedom, advocating for refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants, addressing racial and ethnic tensions, and defending creation and challenging climate change.
RFPUSA seeks to contribute to the well-being of civil society and to advance peacebuilding efforts and reconciliation in the United States and throughout the world.
RFPUSA is a national interreligious council of Religions for Peace, which supports a network of nearly 100 national and regional global affiliates. Religions for Peace came into formation in the 1960’s in response to an editorial to The New York Times by Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath. Originally dubbed the World Conference on Religion and Peace, by 1970 it came together as a multi-nation global organization, established itself formally in the United States, and was situated to interface with the United Nations and work as faiths together on the challenges such as violent conflict and the need for nuclear disarmament. The US actors who worked on the global growth of what eventually became named simply Religions for Peace started an independent affiliate in the United States in 2000.
Most of the communities affiliated with RFPUSA have national constituencies, which affords the ability and potential to carry out programs in every locality. RFPUSA has done work in dozens of local US communities, as well as led national campaigns.
RFPUSA enjoys support from member communities, individuals, and foundations. Foundations and partners have included: Rockefeller Foundation, United Nations
Foundation and Better World Campaign, Henry Luce Foundation, David and Barbara B.
Hirschhorn Foundation, UNICEF, International Shinto Foundation, El-Hibri Foundation, GHR Foundation, Betty and Bernard Werthan Foundation, William and Mary Greve Foundation, and Religions for Peace International.
Some samples of program work by RFPUSA during its first 15 years:
Fostering Diversity and Community: Building and Supporting Local Interreligious Councils
Religions for Peace USA worked in eight US communities to build interreligious solidarity and some lasting interfaith councils. Local communities chose the topic of focus and RFPUSA brought in experts for training and staffing for on-the-ground mobilizing and outreach. The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council and the InterFaith Center of Greater Philadelphia are two lasting examples. A statement of concern and action was also released in October 2001 following 9/11. It was issued in concert with a large gathering of senior US and world leaders at the site of Ground Zero in New York.