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Citing Gandhi, US launches faith-based community initiatives body

Washington, Aug 8 (IANS) Citing Mahatma Gandhi’s comparison of world’s religions to beautiful flowers, Secretary of State John Kerry has launched a new State Department office of faith-based community initiatives.

“Gandhi called the world’s religions beautiful flowers from the same garden,” he said Wednesday as he named Shaun Casey of Virginia as special advisor, to head the new office.

“There is common ground between the Abrahamic faiths, and, in fact, between the Abrahamic faiths and all religions and philosophies, whether you’re talking about Hindu or Confucianism or any other of the many of the world’s different approaches to our existence here on the planet and to our relationship with a supreme being,” Kerry said.

“All of these faiths are virtuous and they are in fact, most of them, tied together by the golden rule, as well as fundamental concerns about the human condition, about poverty, about relationships between people, our responsibilities to each other. And they all come from the same human heart,” he said.

The new office will set department policy on engagement with faith-based communities and will work in conjunction with bureaus and posts to reach out to those communities to advance the department’s diplomacy and development objectives, the State department said.

It will also work closely with faith communities to ensure that their voices are heard in the foreign policy process, including through continued collaboration with the department’s religion and foreign policy working group.

The office will collaborate regularly with other government officials and offices focused on religious issues, including the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and the Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.

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