Scene from the official opening of the Parliament of the World's Religions 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Close to 10,000 participants filled Salt Palace Hall, from 70 nations and represent as many as 50 faiths. Credit: photo grab from video by KSL.com
The 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions (PWR) concluded with calls to action on five issues. Each identified how media could help bring about social change.
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, outgoing PWR chairperson, also made a personal plea to influence media practitioners to be “fair, independent of corporate interests, socially responsible, and committed to cross-cultural understanding.”
The emerging leaders declaration called on International Non-Governmental Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations alike to populate projects and programs with emerging leaders and workers.
Emerging leaders are called on to use multiple forms of social media to advocate for the many ways young people might work to create a better world.
To address income inequality and the widening wealth gap, media practitioners are requested not to glamorize wealth or material gain or to ignore the plight of the world’s poorest people.
In addition, media practitioners are called on to reverse the vilification of those who are poor, including those driven into poverty because of race, caste, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin.
The PWR endorsed a declaration on hate speech, violence, and war. It urged the use of as many media outlets as possible to promote large and small initiatives and programs focussing on creative ways of reducing violence and conflict.
Noting that, “the struggle for the dignity and equal human rights of women is the global human and civil rights struggle of our time,” the PWR invited media practitioners to publicise its Declaration for the Dignity and Human Rights of Women.
It also called on media practitioners to highlight women’s transformational spiritual and religious leadership.
Finally, the PWR endorsed an indigenous people’s declaration for action that focussed on recognition and respect for indigenous peoples’ right to exist, an end to the desecration of sacred sites, repudiation of the doctrine of discovery, and an end to violence against indigenous women in particular and against indigenous peoples in general.
Local, national, and regional media practitioners are encouraged to do in-depth reporting on more indigenous issues and to include indigenous perspectives in news stories about indigenous peoples.
The next Parliament of the World’s Religions will take place in 2017, although the location has not yet been decided.
Currently WACC Deputy Director of Programmes and editor of the international journal Media Development. Recent publications include Communicating Peace: Entertaining Angels Unawares (ed.) (2008), and Public Memory, Public Media and the Politics of Justice (ed.) (2012).