Religious WMD's to be Dismantled at International Conference at Bard College June 3-5

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U.N. spiritual caucus, Institute of Advanced Theology, 2 dozen thought leaders, and hundreds of concerned individuals will examine tenets of faiths in search of peaceful resolutions to religious conflict.

Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. Weapons of mass destruction do exist in Iraq. Indeed, they exist worldwide. But they aren't the military hardware you might think. They are an arsenal of individual and collective beliefs that proclaims, "My path is the only right path to God."

Hundreds of people from around the world -- clergy and laypeople, scholars and students, professionals and laborers, business people and artists, policy makers and concerned individuals of many faiths and traditions -- intend to locate and dismantle those weapons in an international theological conference to be held at Bard College, 90 miles north of New York City, June 3 through 5.

The conference, "Seeds of Transformation: Toward a Spiritual Renaissance in a Time of Fundamental Change" (http://bard.humanitysteam.org), will reveal a trend in which people around the world inspect the spiritual weapons in their arsenal of beliefs, including ideas that we are "better" than others, that we are separate from one another, and in particular that God wants it only one way on this earth and that we had better get it right or we are sure to be condemned.

The groundbreaking event, which will also explore the ramifications of the trend, will feature some two dozen speakers, including world-renowned authors, theologians, scientists, artists and spiritual leaders of Eastern, Western and indigenous faiths.

Among the speakers will be:

  • Feisal Abdul Rauf, chief executive of the American Sufi Muslim Association and author of "What's Right With Islam Is What's Right With America: A New Vision for Muslims and the West";
  • Bruce Chilton, religion professor at Bard, whose most recent books include the celebrated "Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography" and "Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography";
  • William Commanda, the most senior Elder from the Algonquin Nation;
  • Paul Ferrini, author of the best-selling "Love Without Conditions";
  • Alex Grey, the celebrated visionary artist;
  • Andrew Harvey, the acclaimed mystical writer;
  • Jana Riess, religion book editor of Publishers Weekly, a specialist in American religious history, and author of the spiritual, religious and mythological "What Would Buffy Do? The Vampire Slayer as Spiritual Guide";
  • Neale Donald Walsch, whose latest best-seller is "What God Wants: A Compelling Answer to Humanity's Biggest Question"; and
  • Arthur Zajonc, physics professor at Amherst College and author of "Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind" and lead contributor to "The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama."

The weekend event will also be the site of special meeting of the Spiritual Caucus at the United Nations. The caucus will discuss the U.N.'s evolving spiritual role as the world body seeks to fulfill its mission to promote world peace and cooperation.

The conference is co-presented by the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard (http://www.bard.edu/iat), founded by Chilton and dedicated to a better understanding of the world's religious traditions, and Humanity's Team (http://www.humanitysteam.org), a nonprofit, pluralistic educational movement created by Walsch.

Besides lectures, panel discussions, seminars and workshops, the conference will feature special screenings of award-winning films depicting the changing religious and spiritual climate, inspiring sculptures and paintings of scriptural figures and spiritual expression, uplifting performances by Emmy and Grammy Award-winning musicians, and an ecumenical prayer service officiated by clergy from a range of faith and wisdom traditions.

The event will also serve as the site of Humanity's Team's 2005 Worldwide Gathering. Dubbed a "civil rights movement for the soul," Humanity's Team -- composed of some 10,000 people from 94 countries on six continents -- seeks to free people from oppressive beliefs about God, life and each other so that humanity can truly experience unity and oneness.

The price of attendance for all three days is $460, including all meals. Group discounts are available. Attendees may also register to participate on any single day. The college is offering affordable sleeping accommodations on campus.

For more information or to register, logon to http://bard.humanitysteam.org or call +1-845-256-1444.

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Gerry Harrington
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