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Organization International Association for Religious Freedom
History This 110-year-old organisation got its start on May 25, 1900, at the Boston meeting of the International Council of Unitarian and Other Liberal Religious Thinkers and Workers. The initial purpose was to open communication with those in all lands who are striving to unite Pure Religion and Perfect Liberty. . . . The first president was an Oxford theology professor and the first administrator (secretary), an American Unitarian minister who had helped organise the 1893 Congress of the Worlds Religions in Chicago. Some 2,000 persons attended the Councils 1st Congress, held in May 1901. As a result, 770 individuals from 21 faiths and 15 countries joined the Council. International Congresses of Religious Liberals were subsequently held every other year (later every four years), as the membership continued to grow, soon including liberal representatives of Islam and the Roman Catholic Church. In 1910 the name was changed to the International Congress for Free Christians and Other Religious Liberals. In 1969, after two World Wars and the addition of Japanese Buddhist and Shinto groups, the organisational name was changed to IARF. In 1993 its secretariat moved to Oxford University, then to Osaka. The most recent Congresses have been held in Hungary (2002), Taiwan (2006) and India (2010).
City London, England
Values Belief with integrity
Vision Interfaith dialogue and tolerance
Mission Working for freedom of religion and belief at a global level. The worlds' oldest global inter-religious organization, we have a century-plus history of encouraging interfaith dialogue and tolerance. Open communication with those in all lands who are striving to unite pure religion and perfect liberty, and to increase fellowship and cooperation among them.
Goals IARFs goal as a membership organisation is to work for these three aspects of religious freedom (1) freedom from oppressive interference or discrimination by the state, governmental or social institutions, (2) mutual understanding, respect and the promotion of harmony, or at least tolerance, between individuals and communities of different faiths and (3) accountability by the respective religious communities that their practices uphold the human rights and dignity of their members and others.
Approach To achieve its goal, IARF works with different faith traditions (normally those which share its values) and communities suffering under religious persecution or discrimination.
Structure IARF is a UK-based charity with member groups in 25 countries from many faith traditions, with member organisations, regional co-ordinators, and national chapters in 16 countries.
Scale Larger
Scope International
Activity Protection and promotion of the human right to freedom of religion and belief constitute the core of our project work. To educate communities about this precious right, and to create awareness of rights in general, IARF has introduced human rights education programmes, primarily in India. Our member groups and chapters arrange and participate in a variety of events related to both religious life and peace activism in their respective countries.
Religion All-faith, Buddhism, Shinto, Christian, Islam
Words tolerance, community, freedom
Acronym IARF
Contact Essex Hall, 1-6 Essex Street, London WC2R 3HY. United Kingdom.