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Shinshuren : Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan

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Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan


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A federation of new religions in Japan will on Nov. 1 start providing telephone advice on questions and troubles relating to new religions in an attempt to dispel negative images associated with them, the federation said Friday.

The Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan (Shinshuren), based in Tokyo, comprises 68 religious organizations founded mostly in the 20th century, including Ennokyo, the Church of Perfect Liberty and Rissho Koseikai.

The telephone advice project was conceived after the federation received inquiries and request for advice from people who experienced troubles, the federation said.

Several phone calls were from people interested in learning more about religious groups that invited them to join. Others called to complain about being harassed by members of a cult they had left.

The federation is concerned about negative images generated particularly after a series of incidents involving the AUM Shinrikyo cult, also a new religious group, particularly by its 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. AUM Shinrikyo has renamed itself Aleph.

The federation, which also plans the project to commemorate its 50th anniversary, is also hoping to transform the images the public has about new religions, such as ''terrifying,'' ''untrustworthy,'' and ''money hungry.''

The federation says it will accept any inquiries but will not offer judgments on individual religious groups. Lawyers and scholars on religions are being consulted in drawing up a guideline that the federation's officials will use in providing guidance over the phone, the federation said.
In order to restore spirituality to the world, Shinshuren, with the support of all of its member organizations, has promoted the new religious organizations movement. The basic idea is on establishing "a world full of peace and liberty," developing religious cooperation, and adhering to freedom of faith.
Shinshuren has developed various kinds activities to cope with the problems which humankind now faces of abolishing nuclear weapons, economic development, human rights, and preserving the environment.
Shinshuren stands on four main pillars:
  • Freedom of Faith.
  • Separation of State and Church.
  • Religious Cooperation.
  • Faith for Every Citizen.
The hopes of all of the members are captured in the Shinshuren symbol. We will respect all life and show everyone the way to a life of truth.
Shinshuren, English home page

It appears that the organization is convinced that it originated the interfaith concept:

Shinshuren is based on the idea of religious cooperation. We have promoted cooperative activities among religious bodies in Japan and abroad based on the idea of mutual understanding and cooperation among religious bodies. We are firmly convinced that the idea of religious cooperation was produced fifty years ago by Shinshuren. We are quite happy that this idea has become a world-wide current. We would like to contribute to human welfare and world peace through avoiding confrontation between religious bodies, promoting dialogue and mutual understanding among them, and by cooperation in both small and large activities.
Four Main Pillars, Shinshuren

Shinshuren was founded by Nikkyo Niwano, who also was the co-founder of Rissho Koseikai, one of the Japan's largest Buddhist organizations. He died in October, 1999:

Niwano founded Rissho Koseikai in 1938. The lay-Buddhist organization currently has some 6 million followers, the second largest in the nation after Soka Gakkai. He also promoted worldwide peace movements that transcend religious divisions.

His religious group was inspired by the Nichiren Buddhist sect and values Hokkekyo (the Lotus Sutra) and the veneration of one's ancestors. One of the organization's main activities is hoza, in which small groups meet daily to exchange views between members and leaders.

Having strong faith in the importance of inter-religious dialogue and cooperation, Niwano launched the Federation of New Religious Organizations in Japan (Shinshuren) along with other religious groups in 1951.

His belief in universal salvation by religion was strengthened after he was invited to the second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church in 1965. Five years later, he initiated the first conference of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) in Kyoto as the managing director of Shinshuren.

The conference - the biggest religious meeting of its kind - was joined by representatives of numerous religious groups from 31 countries, including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, as well as this nation's Shintoism and new and traditional Buddhism.
Buddhist peacemaker Niwano dies at 92, Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Oct. 5, 1999

- Cults and religious movements in Japan -
Japan's cults and other religious movements include:

» Aum Shinrikyo
» Ho-no-Hana Sanpogyo
» Life Space
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Shinshuren : Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan
First posted: Oct. 25, 2001
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