Parliament Of The World’s Religions Survives Financial Crunch

Adelle M Banks, Religion News Service, Apr.16

With the help of pagans, Jains and people of a range of other faiths, the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions has raised more than $144,000 in two weeks using a crowdsourcing campaign in a desperate bid to survive a financial crisis.

The Chicago-based interfaith network was recently ordered by a U.S. court to pay $276,000 in expenses related to its 2004 meeting in Barcelona, Spain. Deadly train bombings in Madrid months beforehand prompted a drop in expected attendance. The council took out a loan and was involved in a lengthy dispute about how to make up for lost revenue.

Mary Nelson, the interim executive director of the council, said the group had raised about half of the funds needed, but individuals and groups who took part in its crowdsourcing campaign have apparently helped her organization survive.

Two pagan groups alone raised more than $16,000. A Jain board member raised $6,300.

Support across the interfaith spectrum included the National Council of Churches, which has had its own financial troubles and urged its member organizations that are affiliated with the parliament to help out. Leaders in like-minded work also wrote personal checks.

Eboo Patel, president of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, said it was significant that so many people quickly gave a sizable sum to see the organization continue, especially with its trademark large-scale gatherings that attract everyone from Adventists to Zoroastrians.

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