A Statement Regarding Recent Terrorist Attack and Upsurge in Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Muslim Rhetoric
We, the undersigned, are deeply saddened by mass killings around the globe including the most recent massacre in San Bernardino, California. As we express deep sympathy and lift our prayers for the families of the victims, we also condemn these horrific acts, falsely committed in the name of one of the world’s great religions. This has fueled fear-mongering and divisive rhetoric and plays into the hands of terrorists who seek to provoke and further divide us. We raise our common voice to call for an end to the vitriolic statements against Muslims and refugees that have become all too common in our shared public life. We speak as religious leaders of organizations and communities that are Buddhist, Christian (Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox), Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Shinto, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist, and Zoroastrian.
We are especially disturbed to see political leaders and candidates for high public office belittling Muslims, the vast majority of whom have nothing to do with terrorism. We expect better from our current and prospective elected officials. We challenge them to avoid easy rhetoric that demonizes people and distorts the truth. We also challenge the media and the voters to hold them accountable. Our leaders have a Constitutional responsibility to promote the civil rights and general welfare of all U.S. citizens; we call on them to build bridges rather than tearing the nation’s social fabric apart.
The story of the United States is an immigrant story. We also strongly support all efforts to assist Syrian refugees who have been forced to flee from their homes because of military violence, regional instability, and/or religious persecution. The crisis at hand has also led to an increase in xenophobia among our citizens. Our religious traditions are full of proper responses to the presence of evil in the world. Among the most important messages of our faith traditions is the common call to love one’s neighbor. Claiming this call, in solidarity, we can rise above negative forces in the world. We challenge and invite the public to recognize that our religious and spiritual traditions teach us to use conversation as a way to discover and explore common ground rather than to deepen or harden disagreements.
Religious freedom is one of our most cherished American values, enshrined in the Bill of Rights.Therefore, we again call upon our elected officials and candidates for office, whether Republican Democrat, or Independent, to lead our nation by their example. We call upon all Americans to live together peacefully, knowing that whatever challenges we face, we face them together, and that our personal identities are enriched, not diminished or threatened, by religious diversity.
|Mr. Syed Meesam Razvi||Imam al-Khoei Benevolent Foundation|
|Very Rev. Dr. Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides||Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America|
|Rev. Abp. Vicken Aykazian||Armenian Church|
|Mr. Naeem Baig, President||Islamic Circle of North America|
|Mrs. Anju Bhargava||Hindu Seva American Charities|
|Rev. Eric Cherry||Unitarian Universalist Association|
|Ven. Chueh Chuan||Buddha’s Light International|
|Mr. Anuttama Dasa||International Society of Krishna Consciousness|
|Mr. Homi Gandhi||Federation of Zoroastrian Associations in NA|
|Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk||Presbyterian Church USA|
|Rev. Etsuko Fujita||Rissho Kosei-Kai|
|Dr. Tony Kireopoulos||National Council of Churches in Christ USA|
|Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky||Orthodox Church in America|
|Dr. Susan Kopp||Focolare Movement|
|Ms. Kathryn Lohre||Evangelical Lutheran Church in America|
|Dr. Uma Mysorekar, President||Hindu Temple of North America|
|Eli S. McCarthy, Ph.D.||Conference of Major Superiors of Men|
|Sister Rosemarie Milazzo||Maryknoll Sisters International|
|Mr. Toyokatsu Habata||International Shinto Foundation|
|Rev. John Pawlikowski||Servite Fathers|
|The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop||The Episcopal Church|
|The. Rev. Margaret Rose, Ecumenical and Interreligious Deputy||The Episcopal Church|
|Ms. Katherine Wood||The Episcopal Church|
|Rev. Thomas Ryan||Paulist Fathers|
|Rev. Dr. Stephen Sidorak||United Methodist Church|
|Rev. Dr. Youngsook Kang||United Methodist Church|
|Dr. Sayyid Syeed||Islamic Society of North America|
|Mr. Arvind Vora||Jain Associations in North America|
|Imam Warith Deen Mohammed II, President||The Mosque Cares|
|Mr. Satpal Singh||Sikh Council for Interfaith Relations|
|Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson||United Church of Christ|
|Ven. Monshin Paul Naamon||Karuna Tendai Dharma Center, Tendai Buddhist Community|
Resources to help you engage in productive dialogue and to build understanding between you and your religious neighbor.
- Here is a one-stop Knowledge Base for questions you may have on Islam and Muslim Americans.
- Have you ever wondered how hold successfully invite friends and acquaintances of all faiths, religious traditions and no faiths to a dialogue over dinner? We put together a toolkit that leads you through all of the steps: from creating the invitations to even facilitating the dialogue. The method strives to build communities of trust and understanding, and has been implemented across the country. Take a look at the toolkit: Religions for Peace USA Toolkit for Interfaith Dialogue Dinners: A Seat at the Table
- Is there an urgent issue your community needs to discuss but is at a loss for how to go about holding a community-wide conversation? Religions for Peace USA has a toolkit that will help you hold a “Town Hall” meeting. In the face of religious and racial tensions across the country, people need the know-how for this sort of work. Take a look at the toolkit and adapt as necessary! Religions for Peace USA Toolkit for Town Hall Meetings
- Our friends at Shoulder to Shoulder have put together a wonderful collection of religious communities who have spoken against recent attacks and the coincident anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric. See their list here.
- Follow the Our Muslim Neighbor Voices article series, where religious leaders from all across the country are sharing stories and strategies on how to engage in productive interfaith dialogue. Read Rev. Dr. Michael Trice’s most recent contribution here on Muslim – Christian Dialogue.