Road to Joy

Interfaith Spiritual Gathering

Proposals to the Parliament of World Religions 2023


Global Ethics Essay  March 30, 2023

Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy, Vermont, USA

Shady Rill New Church &

Founder of On the Road to Joy Interfaith Gathering


The Global Ethics (GE) developed by the Parliament of World Religions has been a laudable endeavor undertaken by so many particularly Hans Kung, over the past three decades. It is beneficial to strive for living these guiding principles upon which most of us humans can agree, for example: treating every human being humanely; following the Golden Rule; committing to being tolerant and truthful; caring for the Earth. Clearly, the world would be a healthier, happier, more vibrant, just, beautiful place if we humans would just adhere to these principles. But tragically, consistently, almost systematically, we don’t. Instead, we fail terribly, as Howard Thurman said, “to keep before us our high ideals.” 

Why do we humans so often create massive suffering as we  loose our way on a grand scale when it comes to ethics - even when we  know and agree upon what is right and what is wrong?  The world was in agony in 1993 when these Global Ethics were created. Since then, the depth, breadth and scope of suffering, chaos and disruption has increased unfathomably -- particularly in these years of the virus situation, lockdowns and ensuing collapse of the essential systems, plummeting health indictors, increasing illness and death rates, escalating violence, economic disruption, shrinking of our houses of worship, degradation of our environment, lies and polarization.

We should strive for and hone our global ethical agreements, that’s clear.  And it is equally pressing that we explore why we fail so horrifically to live them.  In the words of Hannah Arendt, “The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”  We may shed light on this by recalling the famous Milgrim experiments in the 1960’s where participants in the study were told to administer increasing levels of electric shock to a person in another room whom they could hear screaming when the shock was administered. The shocks were not real but the participants did not know that. The disturbing results were that 65% of the participants complied and administered what they thought were the highest voltage of shocks. 

The extreme disconnect between agreeing to these Global Ethics and actually abiding by them is so egregious that it is clear we are in a spiritual and religious crisis that has been mounting over the decades. Apparently good people are engaging in very unethical and destructive behaviors.  Because it one is the foundation for sound human interaction, I will focus here on just one element in the Global Ethics: ”a Life of Truthfulness”.  “Numberless women and men of all regions and religions strive to lead lives of honesty and truthfulness. Nevertheless, all over the world we find endless lies and deceit, swindling and hypocrisy, ideology and demagoguery”  Dr. Scott Atlas in a recent piece in Newsweek said, “In a democracy, indeed in any ethical and free society, the truth is essential.” The erosion of our human ethical capacity to speak and act truthfully is at a critical point. It is very fitting that the theme of the Parliament is, “Defending Freedom & Human Rights” since with the erosion of truth, freedom and human rights have been under extreme assault particularly in the last 3 years. 

The following is from Dr. Scott Atlas’ opinion piece in Newsweek, March 6, 2022,

Almost all of America's leaders have gradually pulled back their COVID mandates, requirements, and closures….

The tragic failure of reckless, unprecedented lockdowns that were contrary to established pandemic science, and the added massive harms of those policies on children, the elderly, and lower-income families, are indisputable and well-documented in numerous studies. This was the biggest, the most tragic, and the most unethical breakdown of public health leadership in modern history.

… Lies were told. Those lies harmed the public. Those lies were directly contrary to the evidence, to decades of knowledge on viral pandemics, and to long-established fundamental biology.

But to ensure that this never happens again, government leaders, power-driven officials, and influential academics and advisors often harboring conflicts of interest must be held accountable.

The debacle should give pause to those who advance the Global Ethics.  Given that the vaccines were experimental, the breach is so horrific that we have in fact violated all ten points of the Nuremberg Code which delineates what is "Permissible Medical Experiments”, including this: 

  1. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision.

Religious and spiritual leaders’ response to this the most unethical, egregious, pervasive, abusive, destructive violation of human life and freedom in the history of the world and specifically of the Nuremburg Code – all an afront to the Global Ethics – has been a resounding silence. In the words of Hans Kung, “A Church which abandons the truth abandons itself.” In this critical moment in world history, our religious and spiritual institutions and leaders have abandoned truth and abandoned the very basis from which ethical behavior might be possible. 

As the Global Ethics Principle IV states, what we need is a “Transformation of Consciousness.”  Indeed, it is the only thing that will save us.  And it is imperative that our spiritual and religious leaders wake up to these lies and abuses and take responsibility.  In addition, a relevant global ethic would need to address the current crises around transhumanism, AI, vax passports, surveillance capitalism, discrimination against the un-vaxxed  (who are a “foreign minority which is different in behavior or holds a different view” quoting from the GE).  Where are the religious leaders of conscience?  Where are the truthtellers, the voices of dissent to these devasting policies?  Where are the Bonhoeffers?


A Wake Up Call Informed by Covid-19 and Our Responses:
An Essay in Conversation with “Towards a Global Ethic” (TGE)

In the wake of the global experience of -and responses to – Covid-19, I join millions across the
planet struggling to articulate alarming trends and agendas revealed by many institutional public health
responses. The growing movement known as the “health freedom” movement is comprised of fellow
humans embodying dignity, self-determination and conscience-based choices which were vilified rather
than defended by too many religious and secular leaders. How could this be? What has this terrible
time revealed, and where are the opportunities for healing and transformation? It starts with and relies
upon defining and empowering vital health.

This has awakened me to a shortcoming I freshly see in our TGE document.

I am stunned to notice that health as a concept – whether defined in theological or sociological
terms--is missing in a document with sweeping commentary on care for the suffering of the Earth and
our common obligation to positive nurturance of global welfare. It's not named explicitly as a goal and
is thus also not defined in any comprehensive way that could open fresh horizons of multidisciplinary
and pluralistic conversations about true wellbeing. Given the many models of intra- and interfaith
health promotion in the faith and health movement across the globe this is a major gap that future
amendments to the document could address. Perhaps sustained reflection about this omission could
produce conversations fruitful for a more robust wellbeing ethic going forward.

Looking back, we might confess that a more informed view of the nature of health promotion could
have led to greater resilience in the face of Covid-19. In the face of spreading illness associated with
Sars-Cov2, religious leaders attentive to health promotion obligations could have led a more sustained
wake-up call regarding health to the global community of religions and our neighbors. Instead, too
many allowed – and were complicit in – the coercive and singular focus on vaccine interventions. The
trauma of this chapter could have been lessened, and indeed lives saved, if religious leaders had
mobilized with a deeper, wiser and shared worldview on health promotion (robust nutrition, toxin free
environments and inputs, stress management, social connection and use of proven affordable therapies
over experimental profiteering ones). To take such responsibility for one's own health-resilience is not
over and against others' well-being; rather, it is modeling what would be ideal for all.

Where were the widespread “mainstream” religious voices with the discerning faculties to challenge
propaganda in service of fear, or the corporate greed profitting from a vaccine-only solution agenda?
How many religious leaders understand the rise to power of the pharmaceutical companies who
contribute nearly 80% of advertising revenue to cable news networks? Where were the challenges to
conflict of interest in our public health apparatus, the inherent dangers and arrogance in the bio-warfare
industrial complex, or the cynical suppression of affordable treatments such as ivermection and
hydroxycloroquine in order to safeguard the legal roll out of emergency use vaccines? Why were we
not leading multidisciplinary conversations evaluating the long-term physical and mental health
consequences of lockdown, mask mandates and vaccine mandates? How can it be that we are blind to
the increases in mortality and injury since the widespread coercion to receive the Covid vaccines and
boosters were launched?

How is it that caring and committed citizens – moral and justice-seeking leaders included – are
unaware of these truths? A particularly relevant insight lies in TGE's Commitment to a Culture of
Tolerance and a Life of Truthfulness. “...all over the world we find endless lies and deceit, swindling
and hypcrisy, ideology and demagoguery. Examples: Politicians and business people who use lies as a
means to success; Mass media which spread ideological propaganda instead of accurate reporting,
misinformation instead of information, cynical commercial interest instead of loyalty to the truth.”

It is the witness of those whose health freedoms were curtailed during the pandemic that we are in
grave danger of slippery slopes of dangerous propaganda and censorship. These make a mockery of
the Nuremberg Code's ethical principle of “informed consent” in matters of health agency. For the sake
of meaningful health promotion, and indeed a global flourishing of wisdom and freedom, we submit
our testimony as a “Call to Conscience.” May the guiding principles of the TGE, articulating a more
“humane” order, be found capable of inspiring continued self-examination regarding health, human
flourishing and the importance of a common ethic for their pursuit.

Rev. Jacki Belile

Why a Global Ethic

urgent practical need as well as a deep spiritual hunger for clear moral guidance
It expresses a minimal set of principles for committed action –

  • violence,
  • religious and racial hatred,
  • oppression of women and minority groups,
  • extremes of wealth and poverty,
  • and the growing threat of climate change and destruction of the natural world.

A major achievement of the Global Ethic is to demonstrate that there is agreement on these issues.

We recall the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.
an ethic: the full realization of the intrinsic dignity of the human person,
the inalienable freedom and equality in principle of all humans,
and the necessary solidarity and interdependence of all human with each other.

We do not wish to gloss over or ignore the serious differences among the individual religions.
However, they should not hinder us from proclaiming publicly those things which we already hold in
common and which we jointly affirm, each on the basis of our own religious or ethical grounds.

Whats missing: discernment

There already exist ancient guidelines for human behavior which are found in the teachings of the
religions of the world and which are the condition for a sustainable world order. p2