Out of Many, One
A Gathering of Religious Leaders
Statements on Climate Change
Statements on Refugees and Immigrants:
Statements on Religious Freedom
Out of Many, One
A Joint Statement from U.S. Religious Leaders and Communities
March 6, 2017
To sign onto to this statement, please see this form. Sign-ons will be added as statement circulation progresses.
We – people of faith and religious and spiritual leaders from diverse traditions throughout the United States – are urgently joining to express our shared concerns, uplift our moral voices, and make evident the imperatives of our traditions that call us to act together on three critical issues facing our country today.
We come together to declare our shared commitments to:
Protect religious minorities and religious freedom;
Advocate for refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants; and
Defend and care for creation.
We are from religious traditions small and large, young and old. We are Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Indigenous, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist, Zoroastrian, and many others. We herald from great faith “families” of the world – Abrahamic, Dharmic, Native and Earth-Based, Asian, and Ancient and Modern. We are also representatives of America’s pioneering efforts to advance interreligious cooperation.
While our traditions are distinct and unique, we believe people of faith and of goodwill and their communities must boldly act together where they have deeply-held and widely-shared values. Our respective scriptures, traditions, experiences, and reason, as well as current national policy discussions, inform our shared interest in doing this together.
We cannot remain silent or inactive when religious minorities, religious freedom, the environment or refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants are threatened. Our values demand us to act. They insist that we act from love, not from fear. We are called to advance practices and policies that sustain a healthy world and a just, inclusive economy for all people.
We are speaking out because we sense unrest in the American spirit and the need for renewed mobilization amongst people of faith. We join in the yearning for a better America, but not at the cost of the civic principles that we all hold dear, nor the tenets of our faiths to which we have sacred obligation.
Religious communities bring perspectives that are informed by very long histories, sacredly-discerned social purposes, and carefully-collected wisdom. Religious communities offer a scale and scope that cross borders and boundaries. We are the original community builders.
Each of our traditions are imbued with inherent moral responsibilities, as well as vital insights about the truth of human spirit and purpose. We share imperatives to protect those who are unheard, unseen, unknown, and unempowered; to stand with and for “the least of these.”
We seek to act based on the shared values and principles of our diverse communities, even while we acknowledge that America’s political tensions are reflected within our own congregations. Yet, our collective traditions represent the vast majority of Americans, including tens of millions of active faithful whose principles are embodied in fashioning our civic life together.
We have and will add prophetic witness and bring moral imperatives and spiritual assets forward in a way that secular political movements simply cannot. Religious communities are a force for the social good that dwarf the resources and longevity of any government.
Many religious leaders and their communities are speaking up bravely on issues of concern. We selected three issues as central to the tenets of our respective and diverse traditions and vital to current public discourse. We speak up specifically to advocate for the protection of religious minorities, the environment, and the plight of refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants. We believe there is a fierce urgency for us to act together for the common good. We are resolved to continue this work together, developing strategies, tactics, purpose and vision.
(Distinct sections on each of the three issues are below.)
We pledge ourselves and our communities of faith to work with greater resolve to:
protect religious minorities and religious freedom;
advocate for continued resettlement of refugees and asylum seekers, offering hospitality to them and immigrants; and
defend vigorously our environment and reverse the threats of climate change.
Our communities are already acting, both separately and together, to address these concerns. We pledge to do more. We are working on strategies and tactics to live out our respective faiths and make the world in which we live better.
We will seek ways to take common actions – to be visible, to be united, to speak with truth and conviction to power.
Statements on Executive Order Banning Muslims
Statements on Anti-Semitic Incidents
On advocating for refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants
Scriptures and teachings from many of our respective traditions beckon us to show hospitality and grace to the refugee, asylum seeker, and immigrant, for, with the exception of Native Americans and Africans brought as slaves, our forebearers were each one of these at some point. Further, such consideration is inherent to the Golden Rule, a core teaching which we all hold dear.
Religious communities are most often the ones doing the work of welcoming, resettling, and aiding refugees, as well as in determining our nation’s policies regarding them. This is done in partnership with the U.S. government and intergovernmental agencies. We do this as an act of faith, across lines of faith and differences – and have for decades.
Our faiths call us to be concerned for the well-being of families and the predominant number of refugees resettled in the United States who are settled reuniting and protecting families.
Our faiths teach us that each and every person is endowed with dignity and value, regardless of their country of origin, faith, race, or any other marker of identity. We recognize the concern for the screening of refugees; however, those screening processes are already extremely thorough and have an excellent and long track record of success. The period of review for a refugee can take as long as two years, in fact, and involves multiple agencies.
On the protection of religious minorities and religious freedom
The United States has always been a religiously diverse nation. America was, in part, founded by persons escaping religious persecution. One of our great strengths has always been our progressive march towards embracing religious diversity in the civic sphere while, at the same time, honoring personal religious choices and beliefs.
Part of our current tension is that the depth and breadth of our religious and ethnic diversity has been increasing significantly since the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act ended the pattern of discriminatory preferences for who could come to the United States and become citizens. The predominately White and Christian culture of the early United States has given way to vibrant pluralism. The growing pains of our young nation are evident.
Since the beginning of the last presidential election cycle, Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters (including those perceived to be Muslim or Jewish), in particular, but also many other religious minorities, are experiencing unprecedented levels of discrimination and even hate crimes directed against them. These sentiments and acts of hate and violence are a cancer to a strong and healthy civic life. We must work together to put an end to these acts and prevent the normalization of these cancerous manifestations in our culture.
When one faith is threatened, all of our faiths are threatened. We are knit together in valuing the integrity of freedom in religious and spiritual expression. It is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, consistent with the Golden Rule, and reflected in our respect for diversity, as the motto e pluribus unum – out of many, one – makes clear.
Though progress has not always been rapid or straight, the United States has long been a global model of struggling toward that lofty goal of e pluribus unum. In our religious diversity we have found great strength.
We stand for the principles of religious freedom. We pledge ourselves to stand in solidarity with one another if any faith faces discrimination. This mutual solidarity is evidenced in many ways everyday, including a prominent recent example between Muslims and Jews. As an example, Jews have worked to fund rebuilding a damaged mosque, and Muslims have worked to restore and protect vandalized Jewish cemeteries.
On defending the environment and addressing climate change
Destruction of the Earth demands a moral response, for our traditions compel us to be good stewards of creation. We express our lament in failing to fulfill this sacred responsibility, leaving our planet and its life-supporting ecosystems in peril.
For decades, the scientific mainstream has been clear about the dangers of climate change and environmental degradation, and that the impacts of these consistently fall most heavily on the poor. In recent years, it has also become clear that solutions to these threats can, if managed properly, have substantial benefits in terms of the healing of the planet, the creation of jobs, and the health, safety, and security of communities. Our traditions call us to care for the life, wellbeing and safety of all people and to do all we can to right wrongs.
Scientific consensus is clear about human contributions to the degradation of our environment. We stand together to end pollution and global warming in order to protect the land, air, and water, as well as to transition our communities to a clean energy future that ensures the economic well-being of our brothers and sisters in every corner of the planet. It is the poorest among us who contributed the least to the problem, but yet are suffering the most. These are the very people whom our traditions implore us to serve and protect. We have allowed their land, air, and water to be polluted and, in many cases, destroyed entire cultures. This must happen no more.
Organizations that offer a formal endorsement are being added as identified. The following organizations have endorsed this statement:
- Religions for Peace USA (www.rfpusa.org, more than 50 member religious communities)
- United Religions Initiative (www.uri.org, in 97 countries and more than 100 cooperative circles in the North America region)
- Parliament of the World’s Religions (www.parliamentofreligions.org)
- National Council of the Churches of Christ USA (www.nationalcouncilofchurches.us, with 38 member communions)
- Church World Service (www.cwsglobal.org, with 37 member communions)
- Faith in Public Life (www.faithinpubliclife.org)
- Shoulder to Shoulder (www.shouldertoshouldercampaign.org)
- Green Faith (www.greenfaith.org)
- Interfaith Power and Light (www.interfaithpowerandlight.org)
- The United Methodist Church (www.umc.org)
- Rumi Forum (www.rumiforum.org)
- New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good (www.newevangelicalpartnership.org)
- North American Interfaith Network (www.nain.org)
- Fellowship of Reconciliation (www.forusa.org)
- Paulist Fathers (www.paulist.org)
- Conference of Major Superiors of Men (www.cmsm.org)
- Sikh Council for Interfaith Relations
- Charter for Compassion International (www.charterforcompassion.org, with over 370 compassionate city initiatives in 52 countries)
- Interfaith Partners of South Carolina (www.interfaithpartnersofsc.org)
The following individuals represent a partial list of those who have signed this statement. Any reference to their organization is only for informational reference only and does reflect attribution or endorsement of the statement by the organization, except for those that appear to the left as endorsing organizations.
Rev. Bud Heckman, Religions for Peace USA
- Ms. Sari Heidenreich, United Religions Initiative – North America
- The Rev. Victor Kazanjian, United Religions Initiative
- Mr. Jim Winkler, National Council of the Churches of Christ USA
- Rev. John McCullough, Church World Service
- Dr. Larry Greenfield, Parliament of the World’s Religions
- Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Union for Reform Judaism
Rev. Jennifer, Butler, Faith in Public Life
Ms. Bettina Gray, North American Interfaith Network
- Mr. Brian Farr, North American Interfaith Network
Rev. Carlos L Malave, Christian Churches Together
- Rev. Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith
- Rev. Kristin Stoneking, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Rev. Richard Cizik, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
- Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, Charter for Compassion
- Mr. Benjamin Marcus, Religious Freedom Center
Imam Warithudeen Mohammed II, The Mosque Cares
Prof. Eli McCarthy, Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Dr. Heidi Hadsell, Hartford Seminary
Sriman Anuttama Dasa, International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
- Bishop Bruce R. Ough, Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Youngsook Charlene Kang, The United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, OMNIA Institute for Contextual Leadership
- Bishop Karen Oliveto, The United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, Auburn Seminary
Ven. Dr. Chung Ohun Lee, Won Buddhism
Ms. Kathryn Lohre Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Dr. Simran Jeet Singh, Sikh Coalition
- Ms. Laura Barrett, Interfaith Worker Justice
The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, The Regeneration Project/Interfaith Power and Light
- Fr. Thomas Ryan, Paulist Fathers, CSP
- Mr. Stephen Schneck, Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, The Catholic University of America
- Rev. Jack Moline, The Interfaith Alliance
- Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews, PICO National Network
- Rev. Robert Montgomery, Presbyterian Church USA
- Dr. Mary Nelson, Bethel Lutheran Church
- Ms. Taquiena Boston, Unitarian Universalist Association
- Mr. Eric Cherry, Unitarian Universalist Association
- Ms. Jaya Reinhalter, Kashi Foundation
- Rev. Gracious Moyo, InterFaith Works
- Ms. Katherine Hreib, United Religions Initiative
- Mrs. Maria Crespo, United Religions Initiative
- Ms. Marilyn Turkovich, Charter for Compassion International
- Imam Malik Muhamed Mujahid, Sound Vision Foundation
- Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin, George Mason University
- Mr. Mustafa Askpinar, Rumi Forum
- Dr. Nahed Artoul Zehr, Faith & Culture Center | Our Muslim Neighbor Nashville
- Mr. Michael G. Pappas, San Francisco Interfaith Council
- Ms. Aline O’Brien, Covenant of the Goddess
- Ms. Kate Chance, SIVIC and Islamic Networks Group
- Dr. Mike Mohamed Ghouse, Center for Pluralism
- Mr. Aaron Stauffer, Religions for Peace USA
- Rev. Erin Tamayo, Arizona Interfaith Network
- Rev. Dr. William Lesher, Christian
- Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia, Sikh
- Rev. Will Scott, California Interfaith Power & Light
- Rev. Linda Crawford, Interfaith Center at the Presidio
- Rev. Kristi Denham, Peninsula Multifaith Coalition
- Ms. Daryl Files, InterFaith Works Central New York
- Rev. Holli S. Emore, Cherry Hill Seminary
- Archdruid Ellen E. Hopman, Tribe of the Oak Druid Order
- Dr. Hossam Fadel, Interfaith Fellowship of Augusta
- Rev. Brenda Lynn Kneece, SC Christian Action Council
- Ms. Molly Horan, Parliament of the World’s Religions
- Dr. Rev. Will Moreau Goins, Interfaith Partners of South Carolina
- Fr. Michael McGarry, The Paulist Center