UK Museum of World Religions Planned
Love and forgiveness are key internal and shared components of religions around the world, and a collaboration between the Fetzer Institute and a new Museum of World Religions (MWR) in the UK aims to draw out and enhance those connections in an interfaith setting.
Birmingham was chosen as the location for this project because of its central location in the UK, its European character, good facilities and infrastructure, and a diverse religious community and history of support of religion generally. A balance is required to fuse secularity with spirituality and the museum facility will provide a spiritual focus to the city centre.
The need for such a museum is exceptionally timely. In today’s increasingly globalized and fractured world, members of different faith communities and ethnicities find themselves sharing common spaces. At the same time, humanity is facing unprecedented challenges--poverty, war, violence between groups and communities, uneven distribution of material wealth, environmental degradation, social disparity, injustice, alienation, and many other problems.
The proposed museum is intended to provide experiences and information for individuals to explore the meaning and role of religion amidst these challenges, and how religious resources might be used for global healing, social transformation, and personal growth in the twenty-first century.
The focus on forgiveness in this project is on both the need for inner transformation as well as outer manifestations to incorporate forgiveness into daily life and social organization. What is envisaged is an inspiring and innovative educational and cultural institution. Its prime purpose will be to showcase ideas and values rather than artifacts.
The idea to create such a museum was inspired by the Museum of World Religions in Taiwan, which was founded by Dharma Master Hsin Tao. The Birmingham project, while supported by the museum in Taiwan, is an autonomous initiative.
To distill the cross-religious impact of love and forgiveness, the program will include a survey of more than 600 religious institutions in and around Birmingham. Organizers convened an advanced colloquium on forgiveness with representation of different religious traditions on the topic of forgiveness in October 2013. This was necessary for meeting secular humanist objections to the promotion of forgiveness in schools, and to be precise about what forgiveness might mean when one draws on differing religious traditions.
In addition, the material will be used to update online resources related to MWR and to develop curriculum materials for classes on forgiveness at primary and secondary schools in Birmingham.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on World Religions & Spiritualities.