In 1997, Richard Rosenkranz founded the Interfaith Call for Universal Freedom of Worship and for Human Rights in Tibet. He intended the Call as a vehicle to help raise awareness and support for religious freedom and human rights in general, and in particular for the Tibetan people.
Having lost members of his own family in the holocaust, Rosenkranz was both disturbed and energized by predictions that the religion and culture of the people in Tibet could be wiped out within five years because of genocidal practices of the Chinese government. He created the Call party to help the Tibetan people as well as the world at large. Largely through his perseverance and energy, the Call became a phenomenal success in an incredibly short time. At the end of last year, more than 150,000 people made a commitment to observe the Call, up from 8,000 people the previous year.
Working from his house in Florida, Rosenkranz did extensive outreach on a shoestring budget, financial largely through his savings. Relying mainly on e-mail and occasional mailing, he succeeded partly from his ability to convince total strangers this was a cause worth volunteering their time and effort.
He established a network of volunteers, especially young students, to help him reach out to thousands of houses of worship from many faith traditions. He also created a Web site – with help from friends with computer skills – and then solicited prayers for the Call from many eminent spiritual leaders, including His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He posted the prayers on his site, and then asked theologians from different faith traditions to write full prayers services for the Call. As a former national correspondent, he used his journalism skills to write numerous media releases to raise awareness about issues related to the Call.
Rosenkranz is hoping that the Call will help pressure Chinese leaders to restore basic freedoms to the Tibetan people. This year he hopes to increase support for the Call from the present 150,000 to well over 300,000. But he also views the Call as a way to inspire youth to get involved in positive activism, as well as a way to bring the world’s faith traditions together in a united stand for universal freedom of worship and human rights.
He intends to maintain the Call as a semiannual event presented twice each year., once on March 25th in 120 U.S. cities as part of the Season for Non-Violence, and then at the end of October as part of a massive, worldwide observance.
Until now, Rosenkranz has been living on his savings, but with his funds dwindling, he is about to apply to foundations to seek funding to allow him to continue his work. This year, he received $10,000 from the World Tibet Day Foundation, to help support his work; this is the first money he’s received since starting the Interfaith Call.