Former Secretary of State George Shultz praises the United Religions Initiative in testimony before the United States Congress
February 2, 2015 (San Francisco, CA) -- While testifying at the January 29th hearing of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services on global threats and national security strategy, former United States Secretary of State George Shultz singled out the United Religions Initiative as the kind of positive, non-military approach that we must support to deal with the rising violence of religious extremism.
“There is a man in San Francisco named Bill Swing, the retired Episcopal Bishop of California, and he started something called the United Religions Initiative,” said Dr. Shultz.
The United Religions Initiative invites people of different religions in communities around the world to build connections around issues including conflict transformation, economic development, education, healthcare, nuclear disarmament, refugee and displacement issues, and women’s empowerment. Dr. Shultz called the Committee’s attention to the importance of the United Religions Initiative’s work as a global network of grassroots interfaith groups, which are called Cooperation Circles, who work together on issues of mutual interest in their communities.
Now with more than 665 Cooperation Circles in 85 countries, the United Religions Initiative has become the largest grassroots interfaith organization in the world.
Dr. Shultz ended his remarks saying, “I think that things like this are to be encouraged because they get people of different religions together…and get them working together.”
At a time when people around the world are struggling to find non-military options to confront the violence of religious extremism, the United Religions Initiative offers a proactive alternative to mitigate violence and build peaceful and cohesive communities and countries. This work has had significant impact in countries including Nigeria, Uganda, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
The United Religions Initiative (URI) is based in San Francisco, California, with regional offices in 16 countries and representatives in the UN in New York, Geneva and Nairobi. It is led by The Right Rev. William E. Swing, Founder and President, The Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian, Jr., Executive Director, and Kiran Bali, MBE JP, URI Global Council Chairperson, all of whom are internationally recognized interfaith leaders, and are available for interviews and commentary.
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On June 30, 2015, Former US Secretary of State George P. Shultz sat down with URI President and Founding Trustee the Right Rev. William E. Swing to discuss the United Religions Initiative and the importance of such a movement to the world. The discussion was part of a series of celebrations marking the 15th anniversary of URI's charter signing. Watch the video here.