Historically there has been high mutual suspicion and often outright between the major religions of the world. However in 1893 a gathering of religious and spiritual leaders took place in Chicago to re-affirm the importance of faith and the universality of theism. The 1893 Parliament of World Religions was one of the first multifaith (also referred to as “interfaith”) dialogues, bringing together western and eastern religions for the first time. It introduced Hinduism and Buddhism to the American media and the mainstream public for the first time, and it inspired other ecumenical initiatives worldwide
Absent from this event were Native American religious figures, Sikhs and other Indigenous and Earth centered religionists; it would not be until the 1993 Parliament that these religions were included.
Since thisfirst gathering in 1893, many other multifaith groups, organizations and conferences can be found worldwide. Today, they are represented by such bodies as the International Association for Religious Freedom, the North American Interfaith Network, the World Congress of Faiths, and the Multifaith Institute, to name a few.
For its centenary in 1993, the Parliament of World Religions was revived and an assembly of 8000 religious and spiritual leaders gathered again in Chicago and issued “Toward a Global Ethic: A Declaration”. The Declaration represented the Parliament’s effort at expressing fundamental values found in all religions, and it provided a basis for further interfaith dialogue.
Link: Parliament of Religions