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The United Religions Initiative

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Heresy in High Places
Episcopalians have condoned outright paganism for years, but now California's Bishop William Swing has gone a step further.

The URI: Bishop Swing's New World Religion 
Mystery Babylon may be in her infancy, but she’s here nonetheless

The Case Against the United Religions Initiative
Summary of the reasons why Christians should oppose the United Religions Initiative (URI).

Blending of the Gods: The United Religions Initiative Global Charter Signing
This article is based on the author’s experience while attending the URI Charter signing summit.

Footnote II : Ceremonies Surrounding the Signing of the Charter... Invocation to Hekate and Hermes


Heresy in High Places
By Berit Kjos

“While Christians around the world lament the election of a homosexual Bishop at the recent Episcopal General Convention, few realize that this denomination has condoned outright paganism for years.

Majestic Episcopal cathedrals built long ago to honor God have welcomed the world's pantheon of deities. Occult rituals at New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine and San Francisco's Grace Cathedral have spread the twisted message that the Biblical God is only one among a multitude of equal deities, spirits, forces and ascended masters.

While their respective bishops have turned a blind eye to the pagan intrusion, California's Bishop William Swing went a step further. In 1996, he founded the United Religions Initiative (URI), a global organization designed to bring all religions together to dialogue and seek common ground. "You can work in terms of the model of the UN," he explained, "where you have the General Assembly and the Security Council."” [Heresy In High Places Off Site]



The URI: Bishop Swing's New World Religion 
Ben Rast (Contender Ministries ) July 2002

You’re familiar with the old saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  Thanks to the Bishop of the California Diocese of the Episcopal Church, that road is not only paved, but it’s being widened, the lines are painted, and the global religion of the Antichrist is just around the bend.

The United Nations seems a likely tool the Antichrist will use to establish his nefarious one-world government.  The Antichrist’s false prophet could benefit from a global religious entity in establishing the evil world religion.  Mystery Babylon does not have to start from scratch.  The United Religions Initiative (URI) is a global religious body designed to be a “United Nations of religion.”  In fact, in March of 2001, the URI became an official Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) affiliated with the UN.

The brainchild of Bishop William Swing, the URI is now made up of about 170 “Cooperation Circles.”  Each cooperation circle is made up of at least seven members, and represents at least three different religious beliefs.  The URI is lead by the Global Council.  The GC is made up of members elected from the eight geographic regions.  Every two years the URI conducts a conference known as the “General Assembly.”  The next General Assembly will be held August 18-25, 2002 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

According to the preamble of the URI Charter, the URI’s purpose is “to promote enduring daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.”  In practice, the URI discourages proselytizing, blurs the line between right and wrong, and demonizes those who did not support its conception – Jews and “fundamentalist” Christians.

There are 21 principles that make up the URI Charter. In reading the charter, one gets the impression that this body truly exists for a noble cause.  However, three of the principles contain language that could tie the hands and gag the mouths of evangelical Christians.

Principle two states, “We respect the sacred wisdom of each religion, spiritual expression, and indigenous tradition.”  That sounds so nice and tolerant.  Think about this in terms of specifics though.  Could you, as a Christian, say, “I respect the sacred wisdom of Islam, Wicca, Witchcraft, Satanism, Paganism, Buddhism, Druidism, Shamanism, Mormonism, and New Age?”  If you cannot honestly say that, then count yourself out of the URI -- your beliefs are not compatible.

Also See Religious Pluralism
It is tragically true that few of those who believe 'all spiritual beliefs are valid paths to God" seem to have made an in depth study of various religions to see if their claims are based on fact, or fairy dust. This simply because many, if not most, people seem to believe that religion is a matter of what you believe, and 'faith' has nothing to do with reality.

Principle seven states, “We seek and welcome the gift of diversity and model practices that do not discriminate.”  Once again, this principle sounds so nice on the surface.  Unless you are willing to compromise your Biblical beliefs though, you are in trouble.  I believe the Bible is clear that promiscuity, adultery, and homosexuality are three forms of sexual impurity, and all three are sinful.  My position does not conform to the URI model of diversity, as it “discriminates” against homosexuals.  If you believe as I do, then this is strike two against us as far as being URI compatible. 

Finally, principle 21: “Members of the URI shall not be coerced to participate in any ritual or be proselytized.”  I think most of us would agree that there are times when witnessing is just not appropriate.  For example, you would probably not be very effective trying to share the gospel in the middle of a seminar or when appearing in a courtroom.  However, Jesus called us to “make disciples of all the nations.”  Peter tells us to ALWAYS be ready to give a reason for the hope within us.  When a Christian responds to this call, and shares the gospel with someone else, it is called proselytizing.  Principle 21 forbids that practice.  Are you content to keep the reason for your salvation a secret?  If not, you are URI-incompatible. 

The URI, “Mystery Babylon” in infancy, was founded by the Bishop of the California Diocese of the Episcopal Church, Reverend William Swing.  In 1993, Bishop Swing was asked to organize an interfaith service to go along with festivities that marked the fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations.  Bishop Swing states that he was inspired to do more than merely organize an hour-long prayer service.  He envisioned a body that would foster greater communication among members of various religions.  His goal was to create a “United Nations of Religion” that would parallel the United Nations.  He traveled around the world, meeting with religious leaders in an attempt to create support for his idea.  The two main opponents to his idea were the Catholic leaders in Rome, and “fundamentalist” Christians.  His supporters see Bishop Swing as a visionary.  He is also a globalist, and less than orthodox in his interpretation of the Bible.

The California Diocese of the Episcopal Church is one of – if not THE most liberal diocese in America.  It is very pro-homosexual, and even has a ministry called “Oasis California” that provides for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender” involvement in the Episcopal Ministry.  This diocese is very open to blessing homosexual unions, or marriages.  In a letter to Oasis California on the 2001 Convention, Bishop Swing said:

    “Heterosexuals are a threat to marriage. Homosexual couples are a threat to the traditional institution of family. Homosexuals are kicked out of families and disowned. Then when they form their own families, they are abandoned by the Church. And when they raise their children, society treats them as being scandalously selfish. Nevertheless, we are all going to have to grow up and realize that the institution of family is changing before our eyes. Churches need to have family values -- values for the big, emerging family that has redefined itself.”

Swing’s view of “fundamental” (orthodox) Christianity is a negative one.  He once said,

    “Fundamentalism ....comes about where people feel more and more insecure, and grab harder and harder to the exclusive claims of one religion or another ...The sense of the freedom that there must be in God, and the generosity of God, and the compassion of God, gets frozen out with the exclusive claims.” 

 He makes no secret of the fact that he views religious believers who uphold their faith as a matter of truth, as threats to world peace.  Bishop Swing is such a moral relativist, his moral compass shows “north” in every single direction.  How can he square his beliefs with the words of Jesus in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  The answer is that Bishop Swing interprets the Bible only in the manner that fits with his relativist worldview.  This worldview is only too popular today.  Bishop Swing was the recipient of the International Diplomacy Council’s Citizen’s Diplomacy Award.  Congratulatory messages were received from California's Governor Gray Davis and President George W. Bush. In his message, the president not only praised Swing for winning the award, but also saluted the URI for “facilitating international understanding.”

The URI is attracting a great many followers.  As yet, there are no evangelical Christians listed among the membership of the URI.  The reason for this is not hard to figure out.  As Christians, we know that truth does not change, regardless of anyone’s beliefs.  To put Christianity on the same level with Shamanism, Druidism, Hinduism, or Satanism is to deny the words of Christ.  In doing so, we would deny Christ Himself.  Moreover, the URI by all appearances is a perfect avenue to institute the world religion presided over by the Antichrist’s false prophet.  Mystery Babylon may be in her infancy, but she’s here nonetheless.

IPS Note: William Swing was Bishop of San Francisco's Grace Cathedral in the 1990's. Lauren Artress, Canon for Special Ministeries at Grace Cathedral is largely responsible for introducing the labyrinth back into Western culture. The problem is the labyrinth never deviated far from its metaphysical roots and is still being used as a ritual in pagan spirituality. While firmly denying any part in classical mysticism many are actually participating in time-honoured mystical practices. See The Labyrinth



The Case Against the United Religions Initiative
By Lee Penn

This is a summary of the reasons why Christians should oppose the United Religions Initiative (URI).

The United Religions Initiative (URI), founded in 1995 by Episcopal Bishop William Swing, intends to create a spiritual equivalent of the United Nations, encompassing all religions and all spiritual movements. The stated goals of the URI include peace among religions, social justice, and preservation of the environment. Bishop Swing says, "The nature of the United Religions would be to focus on:

    1) the whole human family;

    2) the whole health of our planet; and

    3) the whole realm of living species, and to offer the unique gifts of religions." (1)

The URI has attracted some support among liberal Protestants, dissident Catholics, and leaders of the state-approved churches in China. The Vatican and Evangelical Protestants oppose the URI. Numerous leaders of Asian religions support the URI, including the Dalai Lama. The URI hopes to transform itself from the United Religions Initiative to the United Religions (UR) in June 2000, when the Charter of the UR is signed. By that time, the URI hopes to have the support of 60 million people worldwide.

See Footnote on the Dalai Lama

The URI is becoming active worldwide, and has some friends and funding sources in high places - including George Soros, the billionaire currency speculator, and Richard Blum, the wealthy husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein. URI allies include the star-studded State of the World Forum, and the Earth Council - headed by Maurice Strong, a wealthy Canadian advocate of world government. However, URI activities receive little coverage in the press, and financial problems forced the URI to reduce the size of its 1999 summit conference by half from the size of its 1997 and 1998 conferences. If the URI is to meet its stated objectives and timetable, the URI's allies will need to come forward quickly with cash, friendly media coverage, and other support.

Despite the stated goals of the URI - which seem benign at first glance - there are many reasons why Christians should oppose the movement.

URI leaders and their allies repeatedly equate evangelism to manipulative "proselytizing" and violence. If the URI vision prevails, Christian evangelism based on the unique and saving identity, mission, and acts of Christ would be ruled out. As Bishop Swing says,

    "there will have to be a godly cease-fire, a temporary truce where the absolute exclusive claims of each [religion] will be honored but an agreed upon neutrality will be exercised in terms of proselytizing, condemning, murdering, or dominating. These will not be tolerated in the United Religions zone"(2)

 the whole world. URI leaders say "proselytizing" is the work of "fundamentalists," and URI board member Paul Chafee says, "We can't afford fundamentalists in a world this small."(3)

Despite the URI's repeated and insistent denials that it intends to start a New Religion, URI documents, URI worship ceremonies, and the writings of New Age supporters of the URI point in that very direction. Lex orandi, lex credendi - the law of praying is the law of believing. At the 1995 interfaith service that launched the URI, "holy water from the Ganges, the Amazon, the Red Sea, the River Jordan, and other sacred streams" (4) was mixed in a single "bowl of unity" on the altar of Grace Cathedral.(5) During the service, Bishop Swing made the meaning of the ritual clear. The San Francisco Chronicle reported: " 'As these sacred waters find confluence here,' said Episcopal Bishop William Swing, 'may the city that chartered the nations of the world bring together the religions of the world'."(6)

The 1998/1999 version of the URI Draft Charter said that we must "rediscover a reverence for all life and respect for the sacredness of the whole of Planet Earth."(7) To get clergy and laity to accept the gradual development of the New Religion, there would be a "URI course to 'retool' both clergy and lay religious leaders in the philosophy of spiritual ecology."(8)

Bishop Swing has said,

    "The time comes, though, when common language and a common purpose for all religions and spiritual movements must be discerned and agreed upon. Merely respecting and understanding other religions is not enough."(9)

If all religions are to have "a common purpose," and the purpose of religion is to worship a god, then Bishop Swing is calling "all religions and spiritual movements" to worship a shared god. If Mikhail Gorbachev's views gain influence, the god of the New Religion will be nature. Gorbachev has said,

    "I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos. Look at the sun. If there is no sun, then we cannot exist. So nature is my god. To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals." (10)  See Earth Charter

The URI's proposed "reverence for all life" does not extend to the lives of the unborn. Although URI documents denounce many of the world's evils, they say nothing against abortion or artificial contraception. This is consistent with the statements by Bishop Swing and other prominent URI supporters, who repeatedly warn about the danger of "overpopulation" and argue the need for "reproductive health."

The URI supports efforts by Hans Küng and others to create a new Global Ethic and a new "Declaration of Human Responsibilities," and supports the push by Maurice Strong and Mikhail Gorbachev, founders of Green Cross International, for an Earth Charter. Gorbachev views this proposed Earth Charter as "a kind of Ten Commandments, a 'Sermon on the Mount,' that provides a guide for human behavior toward the environment in the next century and beyond."(11) These proposed codes of ethics and international environmental charters have many ambiguities. Those people who wish to use government power to create a new society according to their liking will be able to exploit these textual loopholes to justify their actions. However, the "Green Cross Earth Charter Philosophy" makes the philosophy and goals of these proposed new treaties clear: "The protection of the Biosphere, as the Common Interest of Humanity, must not be subservient to the rules of state sovereignty, demands of the free market or individual rights."(12)

The URI incorporates and promotes several modern belief systems that have undermined orthodox Christian belief and practice. One of these corrosive ideologies is feminism. Bishop Swing said in 1997 that one reason the URI expanded to include New Age movements (he calls them "modern spiritual movements") is that "If you go with the great religions, you have men only. If you go with modern spiritual movements, you have women as well."(13) Cardinal Ratzinger has replied succinctly to feminism in Salt of the Earth: feminism is an example of an ideology that "traces all existing institutions back to power politics. And this ideology corrupts humanity and also destroys the Church."(14)

[Also See The 10 Lies of Feminism]

Another false belief that the URI promotes is religious relativism, the notion that all religions are equally true and are equally paths to God. In a July 1998 interview with a journalist from the official newspaper for the Lambeth conference (a once-a-decade worldwide gathering of Anglican bishops), Bishop Swing said, "The question is can we stand the generosity of God in that he reveals himself to other people in the world through other symbols and through other stories?"(15) This reduces the historical events of the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection of Christ to the level of "symbols" and "stories," allowing Bishop Swing to equate non-Christian myths to the saving, historical acts of Christ's ministry.

See The Case For Christianity
It is tragically true that few of those who believe 'all spiritual beliefs are valid paths to God" seem to have made an in depth study of various religions to see if their claims are based on fact, or fairy dust.There is far more evidence in favor of the Bible being true, than there is for any of the other 'holy books' like the Qur’an, the Bhagavad-Gita, the writings of Confucius, or the Book of Mormon. This evidence includes it's humanly impossible authorship, it's candor about the faults and failings of it's main characters, fulfilled prophecy, and it's archaeological and scientific accuracy... none of which are seen in the books of other religions.

[Also See Brian McLaren at the Lambeth Conference]

Yet another false belief that the URI fosters is the notion that, as Anglican Bishop Ottley (a URI supporter) says, "the world's agenda is the agenda of the church." (16) Bishop Swing - like other URI supporters - says that a United Religions is what the world demands of believers: "There is going to come a time when the world is just going to insist that religions grow up and begin to talk to each other for the sake of global good and global harmony."(17) The root of the problem may be that URI leaders hold a worldly view of what religion is. URI Vice President William Rankin said, "J. M. Yinger defines religion as 'a system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group of people struggles with ultimate problems of human life. It expresses their refusal to capitulate to death, to give up in the face of frustration, to allow hostility to tear apart their human aspirations.' So far, so good."(18) Yinger's definition reduces religion to psychology and social action - and Rankin does not go beyond it to a God-centered view of religion.

An earth-bound definition of religion is the only way that Bishop Swing could argue that "The United Religions will not be a rejection of ancient religion but will be found buried in the depths of these religions."(19) If, indeed, United Religions were to be found "buried in the depths" of the Christian Faith, countless early martyrs could have avoided agonizing deaths by burning incense in front of the statue of the Roman Emperor, and today's martyrs in Sudan and China could apostatize with a calm conscience. Maybe martyrs are passé, anyhow; URI Vice President Rankin says that "The United Religions Initiative exists to bring people together from all the religions of the world, to create a world where no one has to die because of God, or for God, any more."(20)

The leaders of the URI do not place their ultimate hope in God or in the saving acts of Christ; they hope for an earthly utopia that the United Religions will help bring into being. In the letter that formally invited delegates to the summer 1997 URI summit conference, Bishop Swing wrote that United Religions would be "a deep new source of hope and healing for people and the earth itself."(21) It would be hard to define a larger earthly dream for a human enterprise. The URI has not extended its mission to the planets and to the stars - yet.

Bishop Swing told the 1997 URI summit conference: "If you have come here because a spirit of colossal energy is being born in the loins of earth, then come here and be a midwife. Assist, in awe, at the birth of new hope."(22) The "new hope" will have the Earth - and not the Virgin Mary - as its mother. (See Comment Below) The Catholic Church speaks for all orthodox Christians in rejecting such fantasies of a man-made paradise: "The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can be only realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the 'intrinsically perverse' political form of a secular messianism."(23) See The Antichrist

InPlainSite Comment. While this is an excellent article on the URI, the author, Lee Penn, is Catholic and the sentence above reflects Catholic Thinking. Mary is NOT anyone’s mother, nor does she have ANY part to play in the rest of human history as we know it. See Mary Who? and Mary Worship

The URI made a fateful choice in 1996, expanding its scope beyond the traditional religions to embrace what its leaders call "new spiritual movements" - and what the rest of us call the New Age movement. Bishop Swing still stands by this choice; he told the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco in May 1999 that the three principles agreed upon by the founders of the URI in 1996 were:

    "1. we will be a grass roots movement;

    2. it has to be men and women together;

    3. invite religions and spiritual movements together - right from the beginning."(24)

Bishop Swing says that the URI will remain open to new spiritual movements and "cults": "Asked how the URI would handle cults, Bishop Swing answered that the United Religions would probably look a little like Alcoholics Anonymous" 'very diffuse.' He added that 'In United Religions, if you can abide by the purpose and principle, then you can get together. Once you open the door, you have to keep it open.' "(25) Several New Age leaders, including Robert Muller, Neale Donald Walsch, and Barbara Marx Hubbard, are active and enthusiastic supporters of the URI.

There's far more substance to the New Age movement and New Age beliefs than astrology, crystals, and psychobabble. Muller, Marx Hubbard, and Walsch support world government and a socialist economy, believe that the Fall was really an ascent into knowledge for humanity, and expect an imminent, apocalyptic social transformation that will lead humanity into the New Age. The problem is not a few "smoking gun" quotes pulled from otherwise-innocent writings; these New Age leaders have provided an arsenal full of smoking guns, all pointed in the same direction. These New Age teachers - and their theosophical mentors - propose a comprehensive anti-Gospel, a modern revival of the Gnostic heresy, and an inversion of Christian morality.

See Overview of The New Age Movement

Unfortunately, the New Age movement has friends and customers in high places. The State of the World Forum attracts almost 1,000 VIPs to San Francisco each year, and encourages them to believe that they will shape the emerging "new civilization." The messages offered at the Forum are solidly New Age and collectivist. Many prominent corporations and foundations (from Archer Daniels Midland to CNN, NASDAQ, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund) nevertheless see fit to support the Forum's activities. Each year, the list of these supporters gets longer. Jean Houston, the New Age spiritual adviser to Hillary Clinton, has led workshops at companies such as Kraft, Xerox, General Electric, and Beatrice Foods. Laurence S. Rockefeller and his Fund for the Enhancement of the Human Spirit have funded Matthew Fox,(26) Grace Cathedral,(27) and Barbara Marx Hubbard. Gerald Barney and the Millennium Institute propose that the year 2000 should become the "year zero of the sustainable era," and that "This must be the moment when humans interchange bad and good, unreal and real, and set themselves and Earth on a new course. ... all 5 billion plus of us humans must prepare to die to 20th century ways of thinking and being."(28)

Organizations and agencies that have sent representatives to attend Millennium Institute training sessions include "the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the Aerospace Corporation, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the President's Council on Sustainable Development, [and] Arthur Andersen & Co."(29)

The New Age leaders directly associated with the URI - Muller, Walsch, and Marx Hubbard - draw inspiration from Theosophy, an occult movement started in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Theosophy has since had significant influence on the New Age movement in the US and worldwide. Its teachings include praising Lucifer as the bringer of light to humanity, denouncing orthodox Christianity and Judaism as "separative" and "obsolete," and forecasting a coming age of enlightened, spiritual collectivism - after the cleansing of earth to remove the people who do not accept progress.

See Ascended Masters.. Rulers Of The Darkness of This Age?

The followers of any movement with such perverse beliefs should have been summarily rejected from the URI. Instead, the URI has welcomed New Age leaders, followers of Theosophy, into its midst. Since the URI is a young organization and still in its formative stage, the presence of so many prominent New Age leaders within and around the URI is ominous. "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree," and the strong New Age influence ensures that a mature United Religions will be very bent, indeed.

The appeal of the URI and its New Age allies is based on some truths. Killing in the name of God is an abomination. Badly managed economic growth has harmed the natural environment. Many people and societies appear to have placed love of money and comfort above love of God and neighbor. Churches and temples in all faiths are tainted by hypocrisy and bigotry among their adherents. These elements of truth in the URI's critique of current society may draw a wide audience for the rest of the message of the URI and its allies. This would fit with the usual pattern of temptation; a mixture of lies and truth is likely to draw more people away from God than a message that has no prima facie appeal or plausibility. So it has been from the beginning; it was not a rotten, worm-eaten fruit that the serpent offered to Eve. Instead, "when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate." (Gen. 3:6)

As of mid-1999, it is uncertain whether the United Religions Initiative will become a significant worldwide religious movement, or whether it will fade into oblivion, one more of mankind's proud attempts to create spiritual unity on mankind's own terms. Even if the URI itself fails, the wealthy and influential people associated with the New Age and globalist movements are likely to try again to achieve the same utopian goals within the next few years. These people are devoted and persistent, and will not be easily deterred by the failure of one initiative.

By exposing the URI, I also hope to bring to light the social, political, and spiritual agenda of the movements that are associated with the URI now - and the movements that may later follow the trail blazed by the URI. I have paid the URI the compliment of taking its documents, its leaders, and its allies seriously. Those who, like the URI and its allies, have "a mouth speaking great things" (Dan. 7: 8, 20) deserve such scrutiny and exposure.

The URI has utopian goals, unorthodox theology, and an expectation of imminent social and spiritual transformation for the world. In addition, like its globalist and New Age allies, the URI plans to use the millennial fervor associated with the year 2000 to assist in building the movement. Therefore, the URI deserves to be known as a millennial cult - a respectable, well-connected, politically correct millennial cult, but a cult nevertheless. Cultists who set dates for the Second Coming, max out their credit cards, and head for the hills to meet Jesus in the air - the Rapture - do harm primarily to themselves and their families, and are the occasion for some press coverage ridiculing the Church. The cult of United Religions will, if it succeeds, do more damage than any number of Rapture cults could do. A successful United Religions would lead to the spread of irrational New Age beliefs and practices, and would repopulate the "naked public square" of the West with a pantheon of idols. The collectivist "global ethic" fostered by the United Religions and its allies would provide a fig leaf of respectability for further expansion of national and international government power at the expense of individuals, families, and the Church.

Let's give Bishop Swing the last word. On September 11, 1996, he extolled the URI to a meeting of 200 San Francisco Episcopal lay leaders, and said: "We're talking about salvation history here. If I'm wrong, I'm dead wrong."(30) The Bishop has spoken; the case is closed.


NOTE: Internet document citations are based on research done between September 1997 and August 1999. Web citations are accurate as of the time the Web page was printed, but some documents may have been moved to a different Web site since then, or they may have been removed entirely from the Web.

  1. 1 Bishop William Swing, "The United Religions Initiative," document issued in April 1996 by the URI;
    p. 1
  2. Bishop William Swing, The Coming United Religions, United Religions Initiative and CoNexus Press, 1998, ISBN 0-9637897-5-9; p. 31
  3. Transcribed by Lee Penn from URI-provided tape of URI forum at Grace Cathedral, held on 2/2/97
  4. Don Lattin, "Religions of World Celebrated With Prayers to Dozen Deities," San Francisco Chronicle, June 26, 1995, p. A1, front page section
  5. Richard Scheinin, "Interfaith ceremony promotes world peace," San Jose Mercury News, June 26, 1995; Internet document, p. 2
  6. Don Lattin, "Religions of World Celebrated With Prayers to Dozen Deities," San Francisco Chronicle, June 26, 1995, pp. A1 and A11, front page section
  7. United Religions Initiative, "Benchmark Draft Charter," Internet document, http://www.united-religions.org/charter/index.shtml, Draft Agenda for Action, III. Ecological Imperatives, Rationale, p. 10
  8. United Religions Initiative, "Benchmark Draft Charter," Internet document, http://www.united-religions.org/charter/index.shtml, Draft Agenda for Action, III. Ecological Imperatives, Project Ideas, Project 7, p. 11
  9. Bishop William Swing, The Coming United Religions, United Religions Initiative and CoNexus Press, 1998, ISBN 0-9637897-5-9; p. 63
  10. Fred Matser, "Nature Is My God," an interview with Mikhail Gorbachev, Resurgence 184, Internet document,
    http://www.gn.apc.org/resurgence/184/gorbachev.htm, p. 3
  11. Green Cross International, "Interview," Los Angeles Times, May 8, 1997, Internet document,
    http://www4.gve.ch/gci/GreenCrossFamily/gorby/newspeeches/interviews/laTimes.html, p. 4
  12. The Earth Charter Campaign, "The Earth Charter: The Green Cross Philosophy," Internet document,
    http://www.earthcharter.org/report/special/greencross.htm, p. 5
  13. Don Lattin, interview with Bishop William Swing - "Bishop's Idea for a Leap of Faiths," San Francisco Chronicle, June 22, 1997, p. 3/Z1
  14. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic Church at the End of the Millennium - An Interview with Peter Seewald, translated by Adrian Walker, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1997, ISBN 0-89870-640-8; p. 165
  15. Carol Barnwell, " 'United Religions' is Bishop Swing's goal," The Lambeth Daily, Issue 4, 22 July 1998; Internet document,
    http://anglican.org/online/Lambeth-Daily/22/UR.html, p. 1
  16. Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations, "Annual Report 1997," Internet document,
    http://www.aco.org/united-nations/annual97.htm, p. 2
  17. Baxter and Sax, (first names not stated), "Exclusive Interview: Bishop William Swing, Head of the United Religions Organization," Endtime, July/August 1998, Internet document, http://www.endtime.com/bishop.htm, p. 11
  18. The Center for Progressive Christianity, "President's Report, February 1999," section on the United Religions Initiative by William Rankin, Internet document, http://www.tcpc.org/newsFeb99.html, p. 6
  19. Bishop William Swing, The Coming United Religions, United Religions Initiative and CoNexus Press, 1998, ISBN 0-9637897-5-9; p. 64
  20. The Center for Progressive Christianity, "President's Report, February 1999," section on the United Religions Initiative by William Rankin, Internet document, http://www.tcpc.org/newsFeb99.html, p. 8
  21. Bishop William Swing, "Invitation Letter," Journal of the United Religions Initiative, issue 3, Summer 1997, p. 3
  22. Bishop William Swing, "Opening Address" to the 1997 URI summit conference; Internet document,
    http://www.united-religions.org/youth/welcome/swingspeech.htm, p. 2
  23. Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Image Books/Doubleday edition, 1995, ISBN 0-385-47967-0, sections 675-676, pp. 193-194
  24. Dennis Delman, "For the Sake of the Children, We've Got to Talk," Bishop Swing Tells Commonwealth Club Gathering," Pacific Church News, August/September 1999, p. 25
  25. Dennis Delman, "For the Sake of the Children, We've Got to Talk," Bishop Swing Tells Commonwealth Club Gathering," Pacific Church News, August/September 1999, p. 25
  26. Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, Harper San Francisco, 1988, ISBN 0-06-062915-0, p. xi
  27. Donor list, Grace Cathedral Magazine, Spring 1995, p. 9; covers donations made to the Cathedral capital campaign as of March 1, 1995; Rockefeller donated at least $10,000, according to this listing.
  28. Gerald O. Barney, Global 2000 Revisited: Changing Course, Internet document,
    http://www.cgv.org/millennium/g2000r/course.html, pp. 2-3
  29. Millennium Institute, "Threshold 21 Update," December 1997, Vol. 1, no. 1, Internet document,
    http://www.igc.apc.org/millennium/news/t21upd01.html, p. 8
  30. From notes taken by Lee Penn of the speech given by Bishop Swing at the 9/11/96 meeting of the San Francisco Deanery for the Episcopal Diocese of California.

Conditions of Use:
This story is an extract from a book-length manuscript by me titled "False Dawn, Real Darkness: the Millennial Delusions of the United Religions and the New Age Movement." You may re-distribute this story by hard copy or electronically, and you may abridge or quote from this story - IF you give credit to Lee Penn as the author, and IF you include - in the body or as a footnote - the following statement:

"An earlier version of this story appeared in "The United Religions Initiative - A Bridge Back to Gnosticism", published in December 1998 by the New Oxford Review. You may order the complete story from the Review, or subscribe to the Review, by calling (510) 526-5374, or by writing to the New Oxford Review, 1069 Kains Ave., Berkeley, CA 94706. Additionally, it also has been published as part of "The United Religions Initiative: Foundations for a World Religion" (Part 1), published in May 1999 by the Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Vol. 22:4-23:1. The information in this extract is a small portion of the information printed in the SCP Journal. You may order the complete story from the Journal, or subscribe to the Journal, by calling (510) 540-0300, or by writing to the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Post Office Box 4308, Berkeley, CA 94704, or by visiting the SCP web site, http://www.scp-inc.org/."


Blending of the Gods:
The United Religions Initiative Global Charter Signing
Carl Teichrib

 This article is based on the author’s experience while attending the URI Charter signing summit.

Dressed in the garb of their "faith traditions," supporters of the global interfaith agenda stood in a large circle on the Carnegie Melon University campus, located in historic Pittsburgh. Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Wiccans, New Agers, Muslims, followers of Judaism and Zoroastrianism, along with devotees of a multitude of religions joined together as native spiritualists invoked the "great spirit" and "cleansed" the circle with smoke from a smudge pot. Once the smudge had made it around the group, indigenous drummers from India led the procession to the University Center. The United Religions Initiative global charter signing summit was officially opened.

Watching the processional from the sidelines, it struck me that this organization, the URI, was nonexistent only five years ago. And while the present charter summit was not large in terms of attendees, it was designed to make a long-term impact on the global religious scene. We had gathered to make history.

The Pittsburgh URI summit was a six-day event starting on Sunday, June 25. The actual charter signing, officially launching the world body, was held on Monday, June 26 - the same day that the United Nations charter signing took place back in 1945. This was not a coincidence. The United Nations, through the vision of UN official Robert Muller and the events surrounding its fiftieth anniversary, was the guiding force behind the creation of the URI. Cementing this link, a letter of support from the San Francisco chapter of the United Nations Association was read on Sunday, and at the Monday charter signing, a congratulatory conference call came from the UN. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, the telephone connection failed.

Many other links between the URI and the United Nations exist. Currently, the URI and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) are partners in the United Nations sponsored International Year for the Culture of Peace, and in a concurrent peace program called Manifesto 2000. The URI also has a "Cooperation Circle" inside the UN.

Cooperation Circles, or CC for short, are at the heart of the URI agenda. CCs are self-organized groups that are "locally rooted and globally connected." According to the URI, "Cooperation Circles support the spirit, values and vision expressed in the URI Charter’s Preamble, Purpose and Principles and carry out this vision in a multitude of ways." Networking CCs "provide opportunity for worldwide collective interfaith actions." In essence, CCs are local church-like interfaith settings where URI members come together in inter-religious worship and interfaith community planning. It’s the URI at the grassroots level.

On the global level - besides working with the United Nations - the URI is partnering with various interfaith world organizations. At the Charter signing, it was admitted that global inter-religious organizations such as the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions, are larger, have deeper linkages, and work within broader mandates. In the spirit of global cooperation, the United Religions Initiative is striving to interface with these more established inter-religious bodies. Already a CC has been created "to bridge the work of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions and the URI."

In order to globally steer the URI, a Global Council is being organized. At the Pittsburgh summit we were introduced to the Interim Global Council, which was set-up to solidifying the official development of the URI as an international organization. According to a URI document given out at the summit, between June 2000 and June 2001, a process will be put in place "to select the 41 members of the first globally selected Global Council." Although the document stated that the Global Council’s "central spirit is not one of control," in casually discussing this issue with summit attendees, I was told that "control" was a real area of concern. Three URI members I talked with - one from Eastern Europe, one from the Caribbean, and a New Ager from the US - privately admitted that the URI has a real potential to become a controlling factor within the universal interfaith movement. These three attendees - who supported the summit - recognized the URI and its Global Council as a potentially dangerous element in suppressing genuine religious freedom. As the URI Charter’s Preamble explains, "We unite to support freedom of religion and spiritual expression, and the rights of all individuals and peoples as set forth in international law" [emphasis mine].

The URI Charter Principles also allude to the creation of a controlling interfaith power structure. Principles 13 to 16 state,

    We have the authority to make decisions at the most local level that includes all the relevant and affected parties. (13) We have the right to organize in any manner, at any scale, in any area, and around any issue or activity which is relevant to and consistent with the Preamble, Purpose and Principles. (14) [The Charter is broad enough that almost any religious, "spiritual," moral, or ethical issue could be construed to be relevant to the URI Charter Preamble, Purpose and Principles.] Our deliberations and decisions shall be made at every level by bodies and methods that fairly represent the diversity of affected interests and are not dominated by any. (15) We (each part of the URI) shall relinquish only such autonomy and resources as are essential to the pursuit of the Preamble, Purpose and Principles.

URI members also agree through the Charter not to "proselytize" each other. In other words, members will not witness to, or proclaim that their religion is the "truth," lest a member of another religious tradition become offended. This is interfaithism; the idea that all religions are pathways to the same mountaintop called "God." It is the blending of all spiritual expressions, "truths," and "gods" into a belief of global religious tolerance - "unity in diversity" is the motto. [See Religious Pluralism]

Of the approximately 250 who participated, "Christianity," broadly defined, had the most representation. On June 26, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that numerous "Christian" denominations, including Roman Catholicism, did not support the URI agenda. This created a controversy, and at the Monday evening Charter signing ceremony, the Rev. P. Gerard O’Rourke, Director of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs office, gave a firm rebuttal to the Post-Gazette article.

    I want to correct something that I saw in your paper today in this city. I am here officially as a member of the Catholic Church, and this is where I should be...I am officially here. It’s where the Church should be right now - and it is here. Bless you all.

Also See The Two Faces of Catholicism

Immediately following the Charter signing, I asked Rev. O’Rourke about the role of the Vatican in the global interfaith agenda. He told me that the Roman Catholic Church had received guidance from Pope John Paul II - through his words and his inter-religious activities - that interfaithism is to be vigorously pursued. O’Rourke reminded me that the Catholic church, since the 1962 Second Vatican Council, had dedicated itself to advancing global inter-religious cooperation. He also told me that at least seven other Roman Catholic priests, each highly respected within Catholicism, were present at the URI charter signing and had offered their support to its goals.

There can be no doubt that the global interfaith agenda is speeding up. Bishop William Swing, the Episcopalian founder of URI, sees his inter-religious organization playing a long-term role in the "new world" agenda. At the summit, Mr. Swing expressed his hope that fifty years from now, thousands from around the world would come to Pittsburgh and celebrate the URI’s fiftieth anniversary - much like the United Nations did in 1995. What the final role of the URI will be is not entirely known. And while the organization is presently small, it is strategically aligning itself within the framework of the global village.

But how does Jesus Christ fit into the URI agenda? Not surprisingly, I never heard the name of Jesus mentioned at the summit. Nor could His name be brought up. After all, it was Jesus Christ who made it clear in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." The exclusivity of Jesus Christ is in direct contradiction to the goals of the URI, its Charter, and interfaithism in general. Not only does Jesus Christ claim to be the only way to God, negating all other "ways," but He commands His followers to "proselytize" - "teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…" (Matthew 28:19). And in Acts chapter one, Jesus proclaims that His message will be preached "unto the uttermost part of the earth." Jesus Christ is not politically correct in the new global order. See Why Jesus is Without Equal

As mankind works to build a "peace" based on distorted New Age and interfaith agendas, we who have the peace of Christ must maintain a steadfast determination to follow the will of God - recognizing the exclusive Lordship of Jesus Christ and proclaiming His message of salvation to all the world - regardless of what the cost might be. May we not be slack in this high calling. Also see

Carl Teichrib is Director of Research at Hope For The World, the ministry of best-selling author Gary Kah. Subscribe to Hope For The World Update to read more of Carl’s timely material. Also, read Gary Kah’s eye-opening book, The New World Religion (330 pages, including over 50 exhibits and 350 footnotes), which highlights some of Carl’s research.



Footnote I : The Dalai Lama... Not exactly what he says he is and certainly not what he is popularly made out to be. There is something very sinister behind this smiling ‘Man of Peace”.  He believes in and teaches on the coming of the Maitreya, that some legends equate with Kalki, the doomsday avatar of Vishnu and which the Bible calls the antichrist.. Certainly many, including the Tibetans, believe that this Maitreya is not as friendly as Crème makes him out to be. The Dalai Lama has initiated thousands of people into the Kalachakra initiation, part of which is the Shambhala myth which prophecies and promotes, a “holy war” (Shambhala war) by Buddhists against non-Buddhists, in which “supremely ferocious warriors will throw down the barbarian hordes” and “eliminate” them. The Kalachakra texts say that the 25th Kalki king will emerge from Shambhala with a huge army to vanquish "Dark Forces" and usher in a worldwide thousand-year Golden Age. And who are these ‘Dark Forces’? Reportedly, Shri Kalachakra I. 154 says “Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mani, Mohammed and the Mahdi” are characterised as the “family of the demonic snakes” See The Dalai Lama


Footnote II : Ceremonies Surrounding the Signing of the Charter... Invocation to Hekate and Hermes
In his book False Dawn, author Lee Penn writes, on pages 49-50, about the ceremonies surrounding the signing of the charter.

    “On June 26, when the charter was signed, the Post Gazette reported that the Carnegie Music Hall “was turned into a celebration of spirit. African drummers and Indian musicians mixed with Muslims, Wiccans, Christians and lay people, singing and clapping in a circle of hope and diversity.” [2. Dyer, “Charter Signed,” Post-Gazette, 06/27/2000] On July 1, the Post-Gazette reported that Swing had stayed up “past midnight watching a Mayan contingent performing spiritual rituals.”

    Donald Frew, who has been a member of the URI Global Council, was asked to perform a “traditional Wiccan foundation blessing” at the closing ceremony; he said, :In this one, I specifically invoke Hekate and Hermes by name, and Bishop Swing was right there raising his arms in invocation with the rest of the Circle! We have, indeed, come a long way.”

    Bishop Swing has come a long way, as well; the prayers in he Eastern Orthodox vespers service for Pentecost explicitly disavow his behavior. The ancient liturgy says, :Against Thee alone do we sin, but Thee alone do we adore. We know not how to worship a strange god, nor how to stretch forth our hands to any other gods, O Master:”

[According to legend Hermes  is said to be the father of Pan. Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2008 tells us that

    Hermes, in Greek mythology, messenger of the gods, the son of the god Zeus and of Maia, the daughter of the Titan Atlas. As the special servant and courier of Zeus, Hermes had winged sandals and a winged hat and bore a golden Caduceus, or magic wand, entwined with snakes and surmounted by wings. He conducted the souls of the dead to the underworld and was believed to possess magical powers over sleep and dreams. Hermes was also the god of commerce, and the protector of traders and herds. As the deity of athletes, he protected gymnasiums and stadiums and was believed to be responsible for both good luck and wealth. Despite his virtuous characteristics, Hermes was also a dangerous foe, a trickster, and a thief. [http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761572158/Hermes.html]

    Hecate, in Greek mythology, goddess of darkness, and the daughter of the Titans Perses and Asteria. Unlike Artemis, who represented the moonlight and splendor of the night, Hecate represented its darkness and its terrors. On moonless nights she was believed to roam the earth with a pack of ghostly, howling dogs. She was the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft and was especially worshiped by magicians and witches, who sacrificed black lambs and black dogs to her. As goddess of the crossroads, Hecate and her pack of dogs were believed to haunt these remote spots, which seemed evil and ghostly places to travelers. In art Hecate is often represented with either three bodies or three heads and with serpents entwined about her neck”. [http://www.microsoftencarta.org/encyclopedia_761556984/Hecate.html]

“In reply to these questions about Hekate and Hemes, Frew said,

What matters is the understanding of the invoker. The Hermes I invoked was like the Hermes you mention. However, Hekate is a very complex goddess, encompassing many more concepts that those mentioned on the standard references. I was invoking the Hekate of the late Neo-platonists, not a ‘demonic’ Hekate.. Hermes represents liminal time and Hakate represents liminal space, both appropriate for a moment of transition like the founding of the URI. My intent was beneficial, whatever the prejudices of others about my gods”.” [PLACE IN TEXT]


Index To Articles on Ecumenism