Proud To Support Parliament Of The World's Religions

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3rd December 2009, 04:00am - Views: 675
Proud To Support Parliament Of The World's Religions

3 December 2009

The Australian Government has provided $2 million to support one of the world's largest interfaith forums, the Parliament of the World's Religions (PWR), the Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, Laurie Ferguson, said today.

"The parliament is a crucial interfaith forum for discussions about peace, diversity and sustainability in the context of inter-religious understanding and cooperation," Mr Ferguson said.

"The Australian Government is pleased to be working with the Victorian Government and City of Melbourne on this gathering, which is fittingly being staged in Australia.

"One of our nation's great success stories is that our multicultural society compares well with other countries in terms of low levels of discrimination, social tension or disharmony.

"Australia's strength as a culturally diverse nation played a big role in the decision to stage this event in Melbourne, and I'm proud to be part of this.

"One of the great democratic principles of Australia is freedom of religion. We are free to practise our religion or spiritual beliefs and not have religious beliefs as long as in doing so, Australian laws are respected."

In the latest census data, almost 14 million Australians identified as belonging to a religion. Some 13 million Australians described themselves as Christian, spread among the Protestant, Catholic and many different Orthodox traditions. There are also more than 400 000 Buddhists, 340 000 Muslims, 150 000 Hindus, 90 000 Jews, 26 000 Sikhs and 12 000 Baha'i.

The Parliament of the World's Religions is expected to attract more than 5000 people and will feature more than 650 events, including keynote addresses, seminars, conferences, debates, performances, concerts and exhibitions.

"Interfaith activities such as these can contribute to social cohesion by increasing mutual understanding of religious and cultural diversity," Mr Ferguson said.

"I welcome all attendees, from overseas as well as from Australia."

The event is being staged from 3-9 December 2009. Further information is available at www.parliamentofreligions.org/

Media Contact Carla Wilshire 0432 755 935

SOURCE: Laurie Ferguson, Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services

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