His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordon brought a resolution to the UN last year, to recognize the first week of February each year as World Interfaith Harmony Week.  Among his proactive interfaith works are included the national preservation of the traditional baptism site of Jesus, and the giving of olive wood rosary beads to Christian visitors to his nation.  In his proposal, His majesty said, “The fact is, humanity everywhere is bound together, not only by mutual interests, but by shared commandments to love God and neighbor” (his full speech is here).

In Utah, the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable was excited for Interfaith Harmony Week, and took it further–supporting and organizing events of interfaith harmony for the entire month.  Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Wiccans, and many others were strengthened in their efforts to share their faith with others in their communities; the family is the foundation of society, and faith binds families together.  As people earnestly seek to understand and respect the beliefs of their neighbors, individual faith is not diluted but strengthened, and this in turn strengthens the family.  In getting ready for Interfaith Month, the Chair of the Roundtable, Alan Bachman, gave an address at the Turkish cultural outreach organization Pacifica Utah.  He stressed that one conviction shared by all faiths is that of compassion towards others.  “We are not living in a melting pot, but a salad,” he said, “and when we observe the highest principles in each of our differing religions, and respect our differences, all of us will rise together.”  (Mr. Bachman is also an accomplished musician, with his group Desert Wind Music)

No two people seem to share precisely the same path of faith in the Roundtable, but all live the words of Mr. Bachman.  Many faiths are represented, and a Buddhist friend with the Roundtable, Bruce Lambson, has put together the website AllRivers.org, which really expresses the salad Mr. Bachman spoke about.  The 99 Names project was started as an opportunity to learn about another faith with respect, and to share what I learn with others.  The Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable is one of many organizations which share a hope for mutual respect and understanding, and in the words of the Roundtable Chair, seek for “all of us to rise together.”

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