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pixel.gifThe Temple of Understanding was founded in 1960 by Juliet Hollister, a housewife who had a peanut butter sandwich lunch with a friend and shared her vision of a world in which the many religious traditions of today would come together in dialogue rather than conflict. Her idea, though simple, was so powerful that humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer in the Congo and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt soon became her advocates. julietlaugh.jpg
She founded The Temple of Understanding, which Mrs. Roosevelt helped launch, to promote understanding among the world's religions, to recognize the oneness of the human family and to achieve "A Spiritual United Nations." But how was someone with no degree in comparative religions going to promote such an idea? One evening she brought this question to her beloved husband, a New York Attorney, and to her surprise his answer changed her life. "Have you prayed about it?" he asked.
eleanor.jpg pixel.gifJust days later Juliet Hollister was at a dinner party and met a cousin of Eleanor Roosevelt's who promised to introduce her to the Great Lady. When Juliet showed Mrs. Roosevelt the architect's plans of a building with wings representing the world's religions, libraries for learning and a central pool and flame for meditation and prayer, she saw the power of the vision immediately. "You must meet religious and political leaders from around the world. I will write letters of introduction for you," she told her astonished guest. She wrote as an endorsement for the project, "May this greatly needed Temple of Understanding come into realization soon, for our world surely needs the inspiration and leadership of such a 'Spiritual United Nations.'"
pixel.gifThat year, Juliet and her young son Dickerman, age 11, set out around the world to enlist support from such luminaries as President Nassar, Anwar-el Sadat, President Nehru, Pope John XXIII, and Albert Schweitzer who wrote back, "Come at once and I will send a canoe." The response was overwhelming. "My hopes and prayers are with you in the realization of the great Temple of Understanding, which has a profound significance ... The Spirit burns in many flames," Dr. Schweitzer wrote in the travel log.
In the December 1962 issue of Life Magazine, the feature article was about Juliet Hollister's "Wonderful Obsession" to draw people together to build a movement embracing all faiths. The organization received approximately 10,000 dollars in currencies from all over the world. It seemed that the idea to achieve understanding and harmony among the people of the world's religions had a universal appeal. Thus the first grassroots movement of international interfaith work in North America by a non-denominational organization was begun.
History - 1 2 3 4 5