Heads of faith groups speak out against anti-Muslim marches

PC(USA)’s J. Herbert Nelson, II, joins call for solidarity

June 19, 2017

Photo of J. Herbert Nelson

Louisville, Ky.

A group of faith leaders from across the geographic and theological spectrum in the U.S. has issued a public letter denouncing a spate of recent anti-Muslim rallies. Scheduled to take place during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the rallies have been organized by ACT for America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in the country.

In their letter, the religious leaders—including the Reverend J. Herbert Nelson, II, General Assembly Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)—affirm the constitutional right of freedom of religion and state: “We do not, cannot, and will not stand for hate groups targeting and threatening other members of our community. We reject racism and hatred, bigotry and fear mongering.”


The full text of the letter:

Hate will not divide us. We are made for each other. Together, we are better.

We stand united against anti-Muslim, xenophobic, and racist policies, rhetoric, and behavior. Our religious principles teach us to love and respect one another. Our civic responsibility demands that we take a public stand against instances of bigotry, hatred, and persecution.

Guided by our principles and acting on our responsibilities, we join our voices as faith leaders to speak out against the rallies that have been organized to take place in twenty-one cities around our nation by ACT for America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in the United States. These rallies are occurring during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and they seek to vilify the Muslim community at a time of heightened anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States.

These overtly anti-Muslim events promote bigoted and extremist opinions. ACT for America’s founder regularly vilifies all Muslims, saying that “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim” and that Muslims are a “natural threat to civilized people of the world.” We vehemently reject these views, as do the vast majority of people in the United States, who believe that all people have the right to exercise their religious beliefs.

The rallies claim to be against Sharia law. Such a claim is fear mongering designed to inflame already swelling bigoted attitudes. These rallies are not against Sharia; they are rallies against the Muslim community. This is why the rallies are held during the holy month of Ramadan. This is why the promotion of these events is accompanied by threats of violence against Muslims, their families, and their communities.

We do not, cannot, and will not stand for hate groups targeting and threatening other members of our community. We reject racism and hatred, bigotry and fear mongering.

We give thanks that religious freedom is enshrined in our Constitution. We affirm that it is a core American value to protect the rights of Muslims and members of all religious groups.

We give thanks that our faith calls us to love one another and resist the evil of hate. We recommit ourselves to diversity, acceptance, resilience, and compassion for people of all faiths and backgrounds.

We will speak out and show up for everyone against the unjust targeting and discrimination of people because of the color of their skin, the faith they practice, or the origin of their family. All human beings have the right to live fulfilling and meaningful lives without fear of persecution.

We invite you to join us on June 10 and every day in speaking up for the values that bring us together. You can join a local community Iftar to express your solidarity with American Muslims at this time; you can join a vigil or solidarity event locally if your city is a site for one of these rallies (see the map of the anti-Muslim rallies here, and register a solidarity event here), and/or you can join your voice on social media by using the hashtag #CounterACThate on June 10.

Beyond June 10, there is much to be done to address the climate of hate and fear in our nation. Take the time to learn more about Islam and to connect with your Muslim neighbors to build relationships. You can also connect with your own faith community’s leadership at the local and regional levels to find out how they are working to build knowledge and relationships with American Muslims.

Hate will not divide us. We are made for each other. Together, we are better.

Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary, National Council of Churches
The Reverend Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union for Reform Judaism
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The Reverend Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
The Reverend Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners
The Reverend Sofia Betancourt; The Reverend William Sinkford; and Leon Spencer, Co-Presidents, Unitarian Universalist Association
Rabbi Jack Moline, President, Interfaith Alliance
Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, N.Y.
Sister Patricia McDermott, President, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
David Robert, Chair, Board of Governors, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Elyse Wechterman, Executive Director, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
The Reverend John L. McCullough, President and CEO, Church World Service
Rabbi Marc Schneier, President, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
The Reverend Doug Leonard, Director of Global Mission, Reformed Church in America
Rick Love, Ph.D., President, Peace Catalyst International
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director. T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
The Reverend Ron Stief, Executive Director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture

 

  1. Do you know that the Muslim teaches that it was not Jesus in the grave, that it was Judas. They teach categoricaly that Jesus was not the son of God. There are over 40 verses in the koran which calls for the slaying of unbelievers. That includes you and me. What fellowshp does light have withdarness ?

    by John Becker

    June 27, 2017

  2. I appreciate that the leaders of faith groups have spoken out against anti-Muslim marches and hate-groups. I suggest that a way be developed to make it possible for members of local congregations to sign on to the letter. Hate-groups need to know that they are in the minority.

    by Rev. Dr. Joseph W. Shook

    June 19, 2017

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