United Religions Initiative

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The United Religions Initiative (URI) began in 1995 "out of an interfaith service held in San Francisco to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. This vision was to create an initiative whereby people of diverse faiths could work daily for peace." The first URI Global Summit was held in 1996 and has hosted four since. The organization held its Charter Signing in 2000. "Since its beginning, more than a million people in more than sixty countries have participated in URI activities --people coming together in new and profound ways."[1]

Global Council

"The URI Global Council is the decision-making body of the URI. In July 2002, a new Global Council was chosen. Twenty-nine people from around the world were elected in URI's first democratic global elections. Others were selected to offer certain expertise or to represent other voices."[2]



Transition Advisory Committee

At-Large Trustees

Presidents Council

Accessed June 2013: [2]



The United Religions Initiative
P.O. Box 29242
San Francisco, CA 94129
Phone: +1.415.561.2300
Fax: +1.415.561.2313
Email: office AT uri.org
Web: http://www.uri.org


  1. Global Council, United Religions Initiative, accessed April 2008.
  2. United Religions Initiative Presidents Council, organizational web page, accessed June 9, 2013.

Archived News Story: Charter signed for religious coalition, Post-Gazette, June 27, 2000. "With the stroke of his pen, California's Episcopal bishop, the Rev. William E. Swing, signed off on a dream yesterday.

"Swing and more than 200 delegates gathered in Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland to put their signatures on the charter for the United Religions Initiative, a worldwide coalition of faiths, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions out to battle religiously motivated violence.

"The idea for a United Nations of religions made up of grass-roots workers came to Swing five years ago. The charter signing officially gave birth to the network of fund-raising, communications and research needed to provide the initiative with its working foundation. The initiative will be guided by a board of 24 trustees who will be elected from eight diverse geographic regions around the globe.

"Swing will work now to set up headquarters and administrative duties at the Presidio in San Francisco, but emphasized that the initiative is a road show. 'Pittsburgh is our first stop, but we're never going to get off the road.' In his comments before the charter signing, Swing received a standing ovation. He acknowledged it's been a long haul -- the effort has grown largely without the endorsement of mainstream religious leaders, many of whom shied away, fearing the initiative downplayed the individualism of various religions and denominations.

"'This is the spirit's property,' said Swing, 'and no one owns it. Fifty years from now, people from all over the world will flock to Pittsburgh in tribute of this signing.'"

The Apologetics Index says that "The stated purpose of the United Religious Initiative is 'to promoting enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, ending religiously motivated violence and creating cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.' URI, the brainchild of Episcopal Bishop William E. Swing of San Francisco, and patterned after the United Nations, envisions 'a world where the values and teachings of the great wisdom traditions guide people's service, where people respect one another's beliefs, and where the resourcefulness and passion of people working together bring healing and a more hopeful future to the Earth community.'"[3]

"Through its uncritical acceptance of the claims and practices of all religions, URI's interfaith approach promotes religious pluralism. URI's charter expressly forbids proselytizing (evangelism) among URI's members."[4]

"Along the way, a few organized religions have endorsed the effort, but the Roman Catholic authority, the fundamentalist Southern Baptists, and even Episcopalian leadership -- some have called Swing a heretic -- have not given the initiative their blessings."[5]

"URI condones and cooperates with the Interfaith Center of New York & Temple of Understanding, and the Council for a Parliament of World Religions."[6]

"While some of URI's objectives may be worthwhile, its attempts at creating religious unity through compromise cannot be endorsed by Christians."[7]

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