Based on the belief that SGI shares many core values with other religious groups and that the challenges facing humanity require us to work together to find solutions, SGI organizations in many countries regularly participate in interfaith activities focused on peace and nonviolence.
Interfaith Dialogues and Conferences:
SGI-USA Sponsors Interfaith Discussion
On November 4, 2001, a panel discussion titled "A Dialogue on Peace—An Islamic and Buddhist Perspective" took place at the SGI-USA East Los Angeles Community Center, California, USA. The panel discussion was sponsored by SGI-USA and many Muslim residents in the area were invited to share and discuss Islamic principles of peace, historical perspectives of extremism in Islam and the Islamic perspective of women; Buddhist principles of peace were also examined.
SGI-Mexico Attends Interfaith Conference
On November 15, 2001, an SGI-Mexico representative attended an interfaith conference, "Religious Unity Toward a Culture of Peace," at the Colegio Franco Mexicano in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon State, Mexico. The conference brought together representatives of various religious denominations within Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism.
SGI-Mexico Participates in International Conference
Centro Universitario de Integración Humanística (CUIH) (Central University of Humanistic Integration) hosted the second international conference for building healthy communities on March 14-15, 2002, under the theme "Security for All," in Mexico City, Mexico. Some 1,000 participants from the legal, educational and religious fields attended. SGI-Mexico youth represented Buddhism and exchanged ideas and opinions on the role of religion in achieving peace. Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists participated.
SGI-Germany Interfaith Peace Discussion
In September 2002, SGI-Germany sponsored an interfaith discussion on peace which brought together representatives of the Christian, Islamic and Buddhist traditions, followed by a multicultural music and dance festival.
SGI Supports EASA's Interfaith Dialogues Series
On October 24, 2003, SGI supported the ninth interfaith dialogue hosted by the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (EASA), titled "The Conception of Men," at the EASA headquarters in Salzburg, Austria. SGI has been supporting EASA's series of interfaith dialogue since 1997, covering such topics as environmental problems and human rights.
SGI-USA Women Promote Interfaith Dialogue
In June 2003, SGI-USA women members in Long Island, New York, organized an interfaith peace conference entitled "Changing the Tides: Let's Resolve Conflict Through Dialogue."SGI Office of Public Information, 2011 37
SGI-USA Hosts Interfaith Conference
In July 2004, SGI-USA hosted the NAIN and NAEIS joint annual conference, an interfaith conference and film festival at its New York Culture Center. Topics debatedincluded the role of faith-based organizations in combating racism, and public policy and the UN.
SGI Canada Representatives Participate in Annual World Religions Conference
On October 2, 2004, the 24th World Religions Conference was held at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Attendees included religious scholars, representatives of diverse faiths and some 700 local residents. With this year's theme, "Why Religion?" representatives from Christianity, Judaism, Aboriginal Spirituality, Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam, Atheism and Buddhism, discussed the need for religion in the present day, based on their respective views. SGI-Canada members took part as representatives of Buddhism.
SGI-Bolivia Participate in Interfaith Forum
On November 29, 2004, SGI-Bolivia representatives participated in an interfaith forum discussing how religions can contribute to peace building. Nur University, Bolivia, hosted the forum titled "Religions and their Role in Peacebuilding," attended by representatives of Islam, Baha'i, Buddhism and Christianity, at the university campus in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
SGI-Spain Representative Chairs Symposium at Parliament of the World's Religions
The Parliament of the World's Religions, a major event of the "Universal Forum of Cultures—Barcelona 2004" in Barcelona, Spain, was held from July 7 to 13, 2004. Nearly 8,000 people from different religious groups attended the one-week conference. On July 13, an SGI-Spain representative chaired a symposium entitled "The Voices of Different Religious Traditions for Peace."
SGI-Australia Interfaith Activities
In August 2004, SGI-Australia and Pax Christi cohosted an interfaith peace forum in Melbourne entitled "Interfaith Responses to Terrorism—Building a Peaceful World." In October the same year, SGI-Australia, two local Islamic groups and the Uniting Church of Australia hosted a conference in Sydney on "Race, Religion and Rhetoric."
SGI-Argentina Youth Interfaith Event
SGI-Argentina youth hosted an interfaith dialogue on building a culture of peace in August 2004. Representatives of Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist traditions participated.
Pacific Islands Peace Conference on Guam Island
SGI, together with the Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Commission and the Indian Community of Guam, organized the second Pacific Islands Peace Conference, titled "Humanistic Education Fostering a Culture of Peace," on January 14, 2005, in Tumon, Guam. The forum brought together educators and religious leaders representing the diverse cultures of Guam and the South Pacific to share ideas about peacebuilding through education. SGI Office of Public Information, 2011 38
SGI-Hong Kong Hosts Interfaith Seminar
SGI-Hong Kong hosted an interfaith seminar, titled "Unity and Diversity: How I Accommodate Other Religious Traditions in My Own Beliefs," at the SGI-Hong Kong Culture Center in May 2005. Christian, Buddhist, Muslim and Jewish representatives spoke about their organizations' ideals and engagement within society. Participants also held group discussions on various topics, such as the environment, terrorism and security issues.
SGI-UK Hosts Seminar on Faith Groups and ESD
In 2006, SGI-UK collaborated with Development Education Associates (DEA) in the UK to host a one-day seminar on "Active Faith: Global Citizenship and Learning for the Future," examining the role of faith groups in education for global citizenship and sustainability in the UK.
SGI-UK Hosts Interfaith Conference
On June 21, 2006, SGI-UK hosted an interfaith conference at Taplow Court. The 30 participants represented Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist traditions, as well as international NGOs, including Save the Children. Attendees held active discussions on resolving global issues, such as epidemics, war and conflicts, and environmental destruction.
SGI Participates in World Public Forum "Dialogue of Civilizations"
The World Public Forum (WPF) held its fourth general meeting of "Dialogue of Civilizations" in Rhodes, Greece, from September 27 through October 1, 2006. Representatives of SGI and the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP), an affiliated organization, joined over 600 scholars and researchers from 62 countries to discuss peace and intercultural dialogue.
International Interfaith Roundtable Forum in New Zealand
On February 13, 2008, SGI-New Zealand hosted an international interfaith roundtable forum in Wellington entitled "The Role of Interfaith Dialogue in Building Bridges Towards Peace and Security," cosponsored by Victoria University of Wellington and the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs. Over 60 people attended, including representatives from the embassies of the USA, UK, Russia, Pakistan, Thailand, Singapore, Australia and Spain, together with civil society representatives, academics, government officials, interfaith leaders and university students. An SGI representative spoke, representing SGI as well as the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN.
SGI-USA Participates in Interfaith Roundtable on Hate Crimes in USA
On June 26, 2008, in a suburb of Los Angeles (LA), California, USA, the LA County Human Relations Commission hosted an interfaith roundtable on hate crimes. The commission's Executive Director Robin Toma invited 33 leaders representing a broad diversity of faith communities, including SGI-USA.
Singapore Soka Association Participates in Interfaith Forum
An interfaith forum titled "From Tolerance to Acceptance," was held on August 30, 2008, at the Tampines West Community Club in Singapore. Speakers included Associate SGI Office of Public Information, 2011 39 Professor Syed Farid Alatas from the Department of Malay Studies at the National University of Singapore, Singapore Soka Association (SSA) Vice General Director Chan Heng Yuen, and Executive Director Laurence Wee of the Presbyterian Community Services. The event was sponsored by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth
and Sports and organized by the Tampines West Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC).
Soka Gakkai Malaysia Participates in Interfaith Prayer for Peace
On September 12, 2008, Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM) was invited by the Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi (SFA), Cheras, Malaysia, to participate in the interfaith event, "Understanding World Religions." SFA organized the event to promote greater understanding of the various faith traditions in the country. Along with SGM, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM), Hindu Sangam, Buddhist Maha Vihara and the Sikh community participated. Representatives from various faiths took turns to pray in their own tradition for the peace of the nation. In September 2009, SGM participated in a similar event with the theme "Unity in Diversity in 1Malaysia" organized by the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) in Ipoh, Malaysia.
Three Faiths Community Education Conference Held in UK
On November 14, 2009, young Buddhists, Muslims and Christians held a "Three Faiths Community Education Conference" at the SGI-UK South London National Center. The event was an offshoot of the Three Faiths project, which was initiated by SGI-UK in 2008 to address concerns about racial discrimination and harassment among young people in South London—in particular, against young Muslims. Young people facilitated workshops in which they were encouraged to have honest, open dialogue and investigate together concepts of race, identity, racism and Islamaphobia.
Participation in the Parliament of the World's Religions Events Held in USA, Spain and Australia
On April 19, 2009, SGI-USA's World Peace Ikeda Auditorium in Santa Monica, California, hosted the Los Angeles Pre-Parliament Event of the Southern California Committee for a Parliament of the World's Religions (SCCPWR). The event, attended by 300 people representing 20 religious groups, was part of the preparations for the fifth Parliament of the World's Religions held in Melbourne, Australia, in December 2009.
On June 14, 2009, the fourth Catalan Parliament of Religions took place at the University of Lleida in Lleida, Catalonia, Spain, as a pre-event for the Parliament of the World's Religions. The UNESCO Association of Lleida organized the event, which was co-hosted by many other organizations, including SGI-Spain. As the opening event for the Catalan Parliament of Religions, "The Lotus Sutra—A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence" exhibition was shown at the Lleida Public Library in Lleida, between April 28 and May 16, 2009, cosponsored by the University of Lleida, UNESCO Association of Lleida, the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) and the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and supported by SGI-Spain. SGI Office of Public Information, 2011 40
SGI delegates joined voices with representatives of other religions during the Parliament itself, held in Melbourne, Australia, from December 3-9, 2009. In one of the panels, entitled "Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Response and Advocacy by ReligiousCommunities," presentations were made by representatives of Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism, calling for moral leadership by the world's religions in the effort to abolish nuclear weapons. SGI representatives also spoke at other panels on a Culture of Peace, the Earth Charter and depression, during the world's largest interfaith forum. In addition, SGI showed two exhibits during the Parliament; "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit," and "Dark to Dawn: Being Creative about Depression."
SGI Joins Workshop on Faith-Based Organizations and Development in Southeast Asia
From December 14-15, 2009, an SGI representative attended a workshop on "Global Development and Institutions Inspired by Faith in Southeast Asia" co-organized by the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., and the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The workshop, the latest in a series of six regional meetings aimed at "mapping" the involvement of faith-based organizations in development work, was attended by 20 individuals from different countries in Southeast Asia representing a wide range of organizations from Muslim, Christian and Buddhist traditions.
Singapore Soka Association Joins Interfaith Forum
On February 6, 2010, an interfaith forum titled "Religious Boundaries and Common Space," was hosted by the Tampines West Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC), held at the Tampines West Community Club. Attendees included Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, staff from Jamiyah Home for the Aged, members of Darul Ghufran Mosque, students and educators from schools in Tampines West as well as 70 SSA youth.
SGI-Australia Youth Leaders Participate in Interfaith Exchange
On July 17, 2010, twenty-eight SGI-Australia (SGIA) youth leaders of the newly formed SGIA Peace Culture Education Department (PCE) joined twenty-six Muslim counterparts From La Trobe University Center for Dialogue Young Muslim Leadership Program for an interfaith exchange titled ―Celebrating the Dignity of Life‖. This was the third such dialogue held between the Young Muslim Leadership Program and SGIA.
SGI Representatives Participate in Interfaith Dialogue in Thailand
From August 22-26, 2010, SGI representatives participated in an interfaith dialogue between Buddhists and Christians, sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
SGI-Germany hosts Interfaith Dialogue On June 4, 2011, an interfaith event was held at the SGI-Germany Culture Center in Mörfelden-Walldorf, as part of an open day event celebrating its 25th anniversary. The event included an interfaith panel discussion among representatives of the Christian, Islamic and Buddhist communities and was promoted by the town of Mörfelden-Walldorf as a way of increasing awareness and understanding of different cultures within the city. SGI Office of Public Information, 2011 41
SGI Joins Interfaith Events Commemorating 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks
SGI-USA member Emily Aoyama, whose father was killed in the 9/11 attacks, contributed a speech to a multifaith event held at St. John’s University, New York on September 11, 2011, commemorating the tenth anniversary. The event was linked by video to a high-level interfaith conference hosted by the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Archdiocese of Munich entitled ―Bound to Live Together: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue‖ held in Munich from 11-13 September. In Washington DC, the SGI-USA Center was one of the places, among Christian, Sikh, Jewish and Muslim, that welcomed participants on the annual ―Unity Walk‖ to places of worship in the central part of the city on September 11, 2011.
In Singapore on September 11, 2011, the Singapore Soka Association (SGI-Singapore) welcomed 1,000 participants to its Tampines center for a memorial event organized by Mercy Relief which brought together representatives of all Singapore’s major religions. Participation in UN Processes in Cooperation with the NGO Community
Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations
The Committee is composed of the representatives of religious, spiritual or ethical NGOs. Since 1972, the Committee has been meeting regularly to share information and insights on issues and events at the United Nations. Serving in the Bureau of the Committee since 1999, SGI helps organize activities such as monthly briefings. SGI's UN representative in New York served as President of the Committee from 2004 to 2007.
Interfaith Service for the Opening of UN General Assembly
On September 14, 2004, the Annual Interfaith Service for the Opening of the United Nations General Assembly took place in New York. Attendees included UN SecretaryGeneral Kofi Annan, Mrs. Nane Annan, President of the 59th session of the UN General Assembly Jean Ping and many representatives of UN NGOs. SGI's UN representative in New York spoke at the gathering, representing the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN. He also spoke at the service in 2005 and 2006.
Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace
The Forum is a partnership of UN system organizations, Member States and civil society organizations on interfaith dialogue and cooperation for peace. Launched in March 2006, the Forum has been joined by fifteen UN system organizations, including UNESCO and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 50 governments and numerous NGOs coordinated by the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN. Two major conferences have been organized so far. The first was on June 2005, attended by more than 400 representatives from the UN, governments and civil society. The President of the General Assembly and other senior UN officials also participated. The second was a high-level conference on September 2006 where the General Assembly President, the President of Senegal, and the Foreign Secretary of the Philippines participated.SGI Office of Public Information, 2011 42
The SGI has been actively participating in the Forum since its inception, and as then President of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN, SGI's representative spoke at both conferences on behalf of civil society.
SGI-USA Representative Speaks at Interfaith Event During UN Commission on the Status of Women
On March 1, 2006, the Temple of Understanding, an NGO accredited with the UN, hosted a lecture on "Religion and Global Citizenship" in New York. This event was an official parallel event of the 50th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN headquarters. Some 70 individuals attended, including government officials and UN and NGO representatives. Under the theme "Women in Leadership: Religion, Vocation, and Identity," women from four religious traditions—Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism, discussed their roles as global citizens and how gender and faith influence their efforts for peace and social justice. An SGI representative was one of the four panelists.
High-level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Cooperation and Understanding for Peace
The General Assembly convened the first-ever High-level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Cooperation and Understanding for Peace on October 4 and 5, 2007. An SGI representative served on the Civil Society Task Force, which consisted of representatives from relevant UN offices and NGO committees.