Interfaith Claremont Lincoln University in California, USA

Hindus have welcomed launching of multi-religious Claremont Lincoln University (CLU) in Claremont in southern California (USA), calling it a “step in the right direction”. Established with a $50 million gift from a Christian couple, Joan and David Lincoln, its cofounding institutions include Claremont School of Theology (United Methodist), Academy of Jewish Religion-California, and Islamic Center of Southern California. It will offer doctorate and masters’ degrees and classes will begin with Fall 2011 semester. Tagline of this historic new model is “A new university for the world we live in”.

Commending this effort to bring various religions together and finding common ground, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that religion was the most powerful, complex and far-reaching force in our society, so we must take it seriously. And we all knew that religion comprised much more than our own particular tradition/experience.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that in our shared pursuit for the truth, we could learn from one another and thus could arrive nearer to the truth. As dialogue brought us reciprocal enrichment, we would be spiritually richer than before the contact.

Rajan Zed, however, was critical of the CLU for not including Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world with about a billion adherents, in this inter-religious experiment. Zed urged the CLU management to look into this serious lapse and come up with a plan to include Hinduism and other major world religions if it aimed to become really inclusive inter-religious world-class institution.

CLU claims to bring “the wisdom of ancient and modern traditions to bear on world problems”. Its mission/vision “seeks to instill students with the ethical integrity, religious intelligence, and intercultural understanding necessary to become effective in thought and action as leaders in the increasingly diverse, multi-religious world of the 21st century”.

This University plans to include Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center;  Center for Ecology and Spirituality; Center for Engaged Compassion; Center for Global Peacebuilding; Center for Process Studies; Center for Sexuality, Gender and Religion; and The Clinebell Institute (for pastoral care, etc.). Founding members of its Board are: Jerry Campbell, Mel Gottlieb, Maher Hathout, David Lincoln, Jihad Turk, and Jacob Zighelboim.  Jerry D. Campbell is the President while Kathy Black is Vice Dean for Academic Programs.

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