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 I, Part 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org