Human Rights Commission Supports Charter for Compassion

NOVEMBER 17, 2014, TULSA, OK – At today’s meeting of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) for the City of Tulsa, commissioners approved a proposal from the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance in collaboration with the Interfaith sub-committee of the HRC to begin the process of working with city officials to have Tulsa adopt the Charter for Compassion.  The outline that was presented calls for the creation of the “Partnership for a Compassionate Tulsa” that will be responsible for developing and overseeing a 10-year implementation strategy involving business, education, health, civic, neighborhood and faith organizations and individuals.


(l-r) Rev Stacey Cole, Chair, Human Rights Commission, Dr Andrea Walker, Commissioner, Rev. Bob Lawrence, Exec Dir, TIA

The Charter for Compassion was unveiled to international acclaim by British interfaith scholar Karen Armstrong on November 12, 2009.  That event was commemorated in Tulsa on November 15, 2009 with an interfaith celebration at Boston Avenue UMC.  Vicky Langston, one of the organizers of that event in Tulsa, said, “I am pleased to see the renewal of this project that originated with Karen Armstrong’s ground-breaking work.  It will be exciting to see it implemented in the life of our city and the lives of the people in Tulsa.”

 Rev. Bob Lawrence, Executive Director of the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance, explained why the TIA is involved in this work:  “As the Charter states, compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions.  What better way for people of various faiths and beliefs to find common ground as we work to make our city even greater?”  Andrea C. Walker, Ph.D., Human Rights Commissioner and member of its Interfaith sub-committee, stated, “The Charter for Compassion represents what we as a commission desire for Tulsa, placing the Golden Rule and avoidance of harm to others at the center of our decisions about governance, business, education, housing, and numerous other sectors.”

 Information about the Charter for Compassion can be found at To keep citizens informed of the progress of the Compassionate Tulsa campaign, a Facebook account has been established.  A website is being developed and will be announced to the public when it is available.  The campaign can also be contacted via email at, or via twitter at CompassionTulsa.

The Charter for Compassion states:

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

 About the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance – The Tulsa Interfaith Alliance is a non-partisan, faith-based advocacy group that works diligently to maintain the separation of church and state, to address issues of unconstitutional religious expression, and to raise awareness of the greater good that people of all faiths, and no faith, bring to society.  Our work is directed toward the public square, not individual faith communities.

About the Human Rights Commission – The purpose of the Human Rights Commission is to receive, hear and investigate complaints arising from acts or practices of discrimination.  Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council.  The Chair of the HRC is Rev. Stacey Cole.

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