Faith Communities Speak Out And Take Action Against Bigotry

Faith Communities Speak Out and Take action Against Bigotry

Responding to Racism and Events in Charlottesville, Virginia

This week AJC's CEO David Harris published two articles in the Huffington Postaddressed to President Trump (Part IPart II) in response to the events in Charlottesville. Harris states, "For us, we can find no other words to describe what happened on Saturday than domestic terrorism--the premeditated targeting of civilians for political purposes." AJC will continue to press our political leadership to explicitly reject and condemn racism, including white supremacy movements.  Mr. President, for many Americans, finding a path forward that narrows the differences and builds greater cohesion may seem like an impossible task. Yet as long as you are the occupant of the Oval Office, surely it needs to be among your foremost obligations, together with protecting our national security.

 Please sign here to take action to reverse the rise in hate crimes by urging your Senators and Representatives to support the bipartisan Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017.

Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr from the Archdiocese of Cinncinnati responds on August 16, 2017: 

'The bigotry and violence that descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia emerged from the same sin of racism which can plague any community in America, including those of our own Archdiocese. And so, as we approach the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, I echo for the faithful of our local Church the response of Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to these horrendous events and the resulting loss of life:

Let us unite ourselves in the spirit of hope offered by the clergy, people of faith, and all people of good will who peacefully defended their city and country.  

We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love's victory over every form of evil is assured.  At Mass, let us offer a special prayer of gratitude for the brave souls who sought to protect us from the violent ideology displayed yesterday. Let us especially remember those who lost their lives.  Let us join their witness and stand against every form of oppression.

As Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia observed, "[t]he wave of public anger about white nationalist events in Charlottesville is well warranted." Such public displays of bigotry attack our very core belief about who we are as human beings, creations made in God's image and likeness with infinite dignity. As members of one human family, no one of us can ever claim to be superior to another in God's eyes, let alone our own. 

More needs to be done than to simply hope that such events as Charlottesville do not happen again. I urge all of us to stand firmly against such public displays of hate by being daily mindful of everyone's inherent dignity in our churches, schools, workplaces and families. I challenge us all to oppose harassment of anyone on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, physical ability, orientation, or faith tradition. When we find ourselves bystanders to harassment, we must find the courage to stand up for justice and equality. In doing so, we need to summon the grace to respond civilly and not perpetuate the cycle of violence, no matter how righteous our cause.

On September 9, 2016, the Feast of St. Peter Claver, the U.S. Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati made a commitment to be more proactive in addressing racism and violence through the Peace in Our Communities campaign. In the wake of current events, as we approach the anniversary of this Feast, I recommit our local Archdiocese to addressing this disgrace through prayer, dialogue and tangible action.'

Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC) Responds to Charlottesville Violence with Call to  Know Your Neighbor

(This statement is in solidarity and collaboration with ING (www.ing.org) and fellow affiliate speakers bureaus across the country)

Like all Americans, what ICGC were shocked and horrified to learn of violence and fatalities at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. We offer our deep condolences to the families of those injured and who lost their lives. Heather Heyer, the young woman who died at the hands of the young man that drove his car into a crowd, was a citizen committed to social justice. And the Virginia State Police officers, Berke Bates and Jay Cullen, who perished when their helicopter crashed while observing the rally, proved their dedication as public servants.

When as  leaders and as  American citizens,  we let things get to a point where hundreds of our fellow citizens  boldly and proudly declare that "Jews will not replace us" or "Blood and soil" or "America is for white people", we  are complicit in creating this situation. We must speak out in a powerful voice against racism and xenophobia - but without dehumanizing and demonizing those who are swayed by these attitudes.

Widening Polarization Impedes Rational Discourse

This widening polarization in our country dissolves friendships and family relationships and fractures communities. Perhaps, worst of all, it impedes rational discourse about the problems that afflict our society. And as we witnessed in Charlottesville, when it involves hate groups calling for race supremacy, it can be deadly.

The events in Charlottesville are a call to action for reaching out to fellow citizens, with civility, , especially to those whose views we find abhorrent. We can and do change our minds about our fellow citizens but it takes commitment to both the means and the end. The means is respectful dialogue, which is critical in strong, pluralistic democracies like ours. The end is addressing differences of opinion and debating policy, but that can only happen after establishing a baseline of common humanity.

What Can We Do? Know Your Neighbor

Our members look to the Qur'an 49:13, which tells humankind that God has "made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other". The need for active dialogue won't go away anytime soon, and the Know Your Neighbor program, a nationwide coalition of faith- and community-based organizations, social justice campaigners, and civil rights activists, has committed itself to this task. The eighty-two members of the coalition, including the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, based across all fifty United States provide tools, educational programs, interfaith training, dialogue resources, and in-person opportunities to strengthen our social fabric by relating to each other in simple ways. 

We must remember core American principles of cooperation despite differences, of commitment to the greater good, and of concern for the "other". Some point in our history, we were all the "other" to someone else. We're calling everyone to know your neighbor. We are stronger when we unite around these core American values.

Join us for the next Know Your Neighbor event on Saturday September 9th at 1:00 pm at ICGC RSVP by calling 513-755-3280 or emailing us at info@cincinnatiislamiccenter.org

Freestore Food Bank 5K Hunger Walk

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This Memorial Day the Freestore Foodbank and their 350 partners, shelters and community centers joined together to raise awareness and to fight hunger in the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana communities.  The Hunger Walk and 5K Run began in 2004 and has raised more than $1,800,000 for Freestore Foodbank.  Through this collaborative effort, over 23 million meals have been provided each year to hungry children and families in 20 counties in the tri-state area.  Every step counts, every penny matters!

Mother of Mercy High Gathers Teens from Four Faiths for Peace Garden

Mother of Mercy High Gathers Teens from Four Faiths for Peace Garden

by Bob Bonnici

This year, the first Sunday afternoon in May marked the first time that teenagers representing four major religions in Cincinnati gathered together to work as one, building a butterfly garden as an example of interfaith cooperation for our common home, the earth.  The youth groups from the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, Mayerson JCC, Trinity Lutheran Church of Mt. Healthy, and students from Mother of Mercy High School joined together at the Imago Nature Center for an afternoon of discussion, service, and fun. 

Although Mother of Mercy High School is entering its final year as one of our city’s educational institutions, it has strived over the years to help our city grow in interfaith relations, especially among our youth.  For several years, Mother of Mercy High has brought students on field trips to the mosque at the Islamic Center, to Seder meals at Mayerson, and to common prayer services at Trinity Lutheran.  As the students began building friendships, Mother of Mercy High School began coordinating service days at Imago to deepen their relationships with a common goal for peace: joining first with Muslim youth from the Islamic Center, then the following year including Jewish youth from Mayerson JCC, and this year the Lutheran youth from Trinity made the May 7th event our largest gathering of faith-filled teens ever! 

In planning for the interfaith service garden event, students from each faith group collaborated on a commemorative t-shirt for everyone with the word “peace” displayed in Arabic, Hebrew, and English centered around a burgeoning leafing tree.

Imago specializes in educating youth about nature so they divided the students into mixed working groups to help everyone get to know one another.  The students worked on the peace garden all afternoon and several joined the Mercy girls in planting a tree for one of their beloved classmates who recently passed away.  After the shovels and wheelbarrows were put away, everyone gathered for some of Scarlato’s delicious cheese pizza for dinner and table discussion.  This year’s theme was how each religion tries to live out the value of “compassion” in our world in light of our school’s name of Mercy.  Dalal, a Mercy freshman, said that she enjoyed these interfaith service experiences “because people there happened to be confused why not only a Muslim was at Mercy, but also why I was representing Mercy that day.”  She goes on to explain that “it is because of the wonderful community Mercy has and about the love that is exerted from everyone, not only the student body, but the staff as well.”

This gathering of youth from all four faiths was made possible by a generous grant from the Brueggeman Center and it is our hope that we can continue to gather for service once again in the fall of Mother of Mercy High’s final year.

Robert J. Bonnici

Teacher, Mother of Mercy High School

Women's Interfaith Group Hosts Peace Festival

Women's Interfaith Group Hosts Peace Festival

The Women's Interfaith Network of Cincinnati Suburbs hosted an Interfaith Peace Festival on April 23rd. The interfaith group welcomed musicians and dancers from area faith congregations and cultural groups.  The program included singers from LDS choir, the Islamic Center, the Jewish community, Sikh devotional singers, Bhangra dance from India, Chinese dancers, Zabava dancers from Europe, Latin American dancers and several more.  The WINCS group is a diverse group of women seeking to promote learning opportunities among different cultures and religious faiths through open discussion, community service and outreach.

WINCS INTERFAITH PRAYER FOR PEACE – Compiled by Judie

Let us gather today in prayer for peace… Oooommmm shanti, shanti, shanti. Creator of the Universe, fill our hearts with peace. Give us that divine spark to make us a channel of your peace.  

For peace in our own homes, it is said that making peace between two people is more precious than prayers and fasting. Ameen

For peace between neighbors, we are told to love our neighbors as thy self.  Amen

For peace in our community, our cities and country, we are told by the prophets to welcome the stranger and to be our brother’s keeper. Shalom.

Let us know peace. For as long as the moon shall rise, for as long as the rivers shall flow, for as long as the sun shall shine, for as long as the grass shall grow, Let us know peace says our Cheyenne Natives.

For peace in our world, it is said that we are like a link, Golden Chain of Love that stretches around the world. Keep our link bright and strong. Namaste.

God adjudges us according to our deeds, not the coat that we wear: that truth is above everything, but higher still is truthful living. Know that we attaineth God when we loveth, and only that victory endures in consequences of which no one is defeated.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Om lokoh samastah sukhino bhavantu.

May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

Good day, As salamu alaykum, Shalom aleikhem, Sat shri akal, Namaste

AJC Cincinnati Community Hosts Intergroup Seder

AJC Cincinnati Community Hosts Intergroup Seder

American Jewish Committee (AJC) Cincinnati has been privileged to host 24 annual Community Intergroup Seders and to share our festival of freedom with diverse groups of people from throughout our city. The AJC Community Intergroup Seder began in 1994, when 25 people from a number of ethnic and religious organizations joined with American Jewish Committee for a Passover lunch in an office building conference room.  We are proud that the breadth of our Seder has grown significantly. This year we welcomed more than 200 participants from a variety of faiths and backgrounds.

The Seder celebrates the ageless ritual of the Jewish holiday of Passover, celebrating freedom for all.  It includes the re-telling of the Passover story which begins with slavery in Egypt and ends in the deliverance of the Promised Land. It is a story of hope, aspiration, and redemption.

We know, that even today, there are individuals here at home and around the globe who still struggle to achieve freedom.  Passover is a time to reflect and recommit.  The lessons of our past, along with the realities of today bring us to a time when we must stand up and be counted, making our collective voice heard as we seek greater freedom and justice for all. 

Since its founding in 1906, AJC has worked to advance freedom, tolerance, and mutual respect.  We speak truth to power, championing human dignity, human rights, and democratic values. We do so through effective advocacy, reasoned diplomacy, vital bridge building, enlightening education, and strategic communications.

Haven House Supper Club

Haven House Supper Club

An amazing new program to surround our local refugee community with love and support. It is called Haven House Supper Club. The idea is to match up three families who will commit to having dinner together once a month: two local families (one of these families will be a bilingual, cross-cultural family who can act as interpreters if necessary) will be matched up with a refugee family that has been resettled in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern KY area. It is a simple, yet beautifully powerful way to provide refugee families with much need connection and community as they begin a new life here. And just as powerfully, it will provide a chance to build bridges between cultures and create true personal connections. My family has signed up and are awaiting our match. 

Here is the link for more information and to register:

https://rebelpilgrim.formstack.com/forms/supper_club_family_profile

Ohio Interfaith Power and Light: Helping congregations reduce consumption!

Do you happen to know of any congregations who might be interested in an Energy Audit? It is a good thing to help congregations leverage rebates for new lights, HVAC, or other energy efficiency efforts. Ohio Interfaith Power and Light wants to help make our congregations lead the way in setting the example to others in protecting this good earth.  

In partnership with Green Energy Ohio and Ohio Interfaith Power & Light, Energy Optimizers, USA is offering a special comprehensive energy audit program to select Duke Energy customers in southern Ohio. This program provides ASHRAE Level 2 energy auditing services completed by professional and certified energy, mechanical, and electrical engineers. Take advantage of this special program to identify available energy savings opportunities and financing solutions for your faith-based, small commercial, local government, or non-profit buildings now!

For more details click on their brochure here or contact Deb Steele at Steele.deb@gmail.com.

InterfaithCincy to Sponsor ReelAbilities - Interfaith Breakfast

InterfaithCincy is proud to sponsor an amazing Interfaith Breakfast event on March 10th at 8am at the Duke Energy Center.  Richard Bernstein, Justice, Michigan Supreme Court will be the keynote speaker for the event.  Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein will give his thoughts on his experiences of his disability as our nation’s only blind supreme court justice.  All are welcome to share in conversation about how our different faiths play a role in serving those with disabilities.  Please join us along side with leaders and members of the Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Buddhist faith traditions as we unite to support people who experience disabilities in our own communities.  

The ReelAbility Film Festival will be starting March 9th and will continue to March 12th at the Duke Energy Center.  See website for video clips.

'In 2012, Cincinnati, Ohio was the first city to follow in New York’s footsteps by hosting a ReelAbilities Film Festival. Since then, the festival has spread to over a dozen cities in North America, and we have received more than 500 films for consideration submitted from across the globe. In 2014, the festival’s national headquarters moved to Cincinnati where it is being managed by a nonprofit, Living Arrangements for Developmentally Disabled (LADD), Inc.

The ReelAbilities NY Disabilities Film Festival

The ReelAbilities NY Disabilities Film Festival was initiated at the JCC in    Manhattan, in 2007. The festival was the first of its kind to present award- winning films by and about people with disabilities. Screenings took place at multiple venues throughout the city and they were followed by discussions that brought together the community to explore, discuss, embrace, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.'

- See more at: http://cincy.reelabilities.org/ourstory#sthash.t27FV6So.dpuf

What is Solidarity?

What is Solidarity?

"Solidarity has always been more powerful that justice as human glue, for justice is abstract and rational, while solidarity is concrete and mystical." - Peter Kreeft

In a show of solidarity, members of the local American Jewish Committee joined in prayer with parishioners at St. Leo's Catholic Church last Sunday. The parish is comprised primarily of immigrant and refugee parishioners. As one member put it, "The United States turned away Jews who were sent home to death. We can never let this happen again."

Sometimes we can't fully explain what happens when we come together in solidarity. But, when it happens, there is a new unexpected space that opens up.  It is mystical, but it happens, and therefore it is concrete. Solidarity is something that is so beautiful that we can only say that it is truly divine. Solidarity is beyond what is legal and  contractual; it is relational and covenantal.  

Things that can Destroy America: Trump's Actions towards Immigrants & Refugees

The Things that Can destroy America: Trump's Actions towards Immigrants & Refugees

“ The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first and love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.” Theodore Roosevelt

The recent actions by President Trump and his executive order towards immigrants and refugees have sparked faith organizations to take action. No only action, but collaborative action.  Why? Because it is a part of our common faith.  As a mother and youth minister, it is my job to welcome the child who has felt isolated, left out, and need of friendship. It is my job to build a home and community.  It is my job to teach my students and my children to be that person who may have to stand up at times to defend the weak, give voice to the voiceless and to break down barriers to build a stronger community.  From the scriptures that I love, defend and teach to my youth, I find consistent and repeated passages welcoming the stranger.

 

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Heb 13:2)

 

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”  (Romans 15:7)

 

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”  (Matt 25:32)

 

 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”   (Lev 19:33-34)

 

As faithfilled citizens, we have a duty to our faith and our country.  We do need to be on guard those things that can destroy American as Theodore Roosevelt warned us over 100 years ago.  At what price are we trying to protect our borders, our peace and our wealth? 

 

From Johnathan Sacks, The Home We Build Together, “What then is society? It is where we set aside all considerations of wealth and power and value people for what they are and what they give.   It is where Jew and Christian, Muslim and Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh, can come together, bound by their commonalities, enlarged by their differences.  It is where we join in civil conversation about the kind of society we wish to create for the sake of our grandchildren not yet born.  It is where we share an overarching identity, a first language of citizenship, despite our different second languages of ethnicity or faith.  It is where strangers can become friends.  It is not a vehicle of salvation, but it is the most effective form yet devised for respectful coexistence. Society is the home we build together when we bring our several gifts to the common good.”

 

We all have the responsibility to build our common home and there are many ways of taking action from letter writing campaigns, Know Your Neighbor events, to establishing our churches as “sanctuaries.”  There are several organizations working together, pledging to not allow American to be destroyed.  Groups like Trilogue of Faith, AJC, Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, CAIR, Christ Church Cathedral, Islamic Center of Cincinnati and many more are taking steps to build a better home for our country.