Shana Tova and Eid Mubarak! 9/8/10

ING Interfaith Statement for One America
A Call to Action for Deeper Understanding & Mutual Respect

As community and religious leaders representing people of many faiths in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are deeply troubled by the current wave of bigotry and hate directed at Islam and Muslims in the United States.

We recognize that there is a wide range of strongly held views about the location selected for the Islamic Center in New York near Ground Zero and that disagreement with the decision is not tantamount to attacking a religious group. At the same time, there is a growing pattern of anti-mosque protests and other actions directed at American Muslims in many parts of the country that aim to demonize Islam in the name of protecting America from Muslim radicals and extremists.

We condemn these attempts to vilify an entire religious community and affirm that such bigotry has no place in a nation committed to religious liberty for people of all faiths and none. Fear mongering, scapegoating, and intimidating a religious group does not protect our nation against the real threats that it faces, but rather threatens our pluralistic democracy that is a beacon to those who seek freedom from oppression. As a nation of immigrants, we continue to see our diversity as one of the great strengths of our country.

Well-aware of the long and bloody history of religious conflict in Europe, the framers of the U.S. Constitution were determined to found a nation committed to religious freedom. Thanks to their vision and commitment, religious liberty in America is protected as a precious, fundamental and inalienable right for all people. This right is guaranteed by the first 16 words of the First Amendment to the Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

From the beginning of our history, we have struggled as a nation to live up to this founding ideal. The current outbreak of fear and prejudice directed at American Muslims is reminiscent of earlier attacks on Roman Catholics, Jews, Mormons and other immigrant communities in America. Anti-Catholic rallies of the 19th century, for example, warned of “Romanism” taking over America and condemned the Catholic Church as antithetical to American freedom.

Today, we are called once again to speak out against a rising tide of prejudice that threatens the religious freedom of American Muslims and thus undermines religious freedom for us all. Religious liberty is a universal right joined to a universal responsibility to protect that right – not just for ourselves, but for all others. We celebrate that in America we may practice our own faiths in diverse ways that deepen our religious commitment, bridge many of the chasms that divide us, and build doors in the walls that often separate us. We are dedicated to creating a community of mutual respect and common effort for the good of society. This is a salute to America’s legacy and future.

At this difficult time, we ask people of all faiths to take concrete steps to reach out to Muslims and members of other faiths – to host events and joint projects that will build relationships and promote mutual understanding.

We ask all Americans of goodwill to join us in countering this current wave of bigotry and hate by coming together to create our own wave of deeper understanding, mutual respect and common action for the good of all. In this spirit, we commit ourselves to speak and act according to the vision of religious liberty set forth in our Constitution, and urge our fellow citizens to do the same.

(Listed in alphabetical order.)

  • Ruth Ahearn, Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Walnut Creek
  • Rev. Gregory Anderson Love, San Francisco Theological Seminary
  • Rev/Dr John Anderson, St. John’s Presbyterian Church, San Francisco
  • Rabbi Camille Shira Angel, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco
  • Imam Abdurrahman Anwar, Yaseen Foundation
  • Imam Ilyas Anwar, South Valley Islamic Community
  • Imam Tahir Anwar, South Bay Islamic Association
  • Rabbi Melanie Aron, Congregation Shir Hadash
  • Rev. Dana Bainbridge, First Christian Church, San Jose
  • Zahra Billoo, Council on American Islamic Relations – San Francisco
  • Maya Bohnhoff, Baha’i Community of San Jose
  • Rev. Paul R. Brenner, St. Francis Lutheran Church
  • Rev. David Brown, Calvary Presbyterian Church, San Francisco
  • Fr. Steven Brown, St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church, San Jose
  • Rod Cardoza, Abrahamic Alliance International
  • Rev. Paul Chaffee, Interfaith Center at the Presidio
  • Rev. Guo Cheen, TCN Buddhist Center
  • Rev. Jeffrey Cheifetz, Presbyterian minister, San Francisco
  • Rabbi Steven A. Chester, Temple Sinai, Oakland
  • Fr. Gregory Coiro, National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi
  • Sister Rosina Conrotto, Archdiocese of San Francisco
  • Rabbi David J. Cooper, Kehilla Community Synagogue, Piedmont
  • Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley
  • Rev. Ben Daniel, Foothill Presbyterian Church
  • Rev. James DeLange, San Francisco Interfaith Council
  • Rabbi Dennis J. Eisner, Peninsula Temple Beth El, San Mateo
  • Imam Aladdin El-Bakri, West Valley Muslim Association
  • Maha Elgenaidi, Islamic Networks Group (ING)
  • Rev. Michael E. Engh, S.J. President. Santa Clara University
  • Rowan Fairgrove, Covenant of the Goddess
  • Rabbi Ted Falcon, Interfaith Amigos
  • Diane Fisher, Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley
  • Rabbi Joel Fleekop, Congregation Shir Hadash
  • Rev. Judith Fleenor, Golden Gate Center for Spiritual Living
  • Rev. Jerry Fox, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
  • Rabbi Gordon Freeman, Congregation B’nai Shalom
  • Rabbi Stacy Friedman, Congregation Rodef Sholom, San Rafael
  • Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs, United Religions Initiative
  • Karen Gilbert, Visitacion Valley Community Development Corporation
  • Rabbi Rosalind Glazer, Congregation Beth Israel Judea, San Francisco
  • Rabbi Dan Goldblatt, Beth Chaim Congregation & OHALAH: The Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal
  • Rabbi Marvin Goodman, Northern California Board of Rabbis
  • Rabbi Roberto D. Graetz, Temple Isaiah, Lafayette
  • Rev. Steven Greenebaum, Living Interfaith Church
  • Rev. P. Joshua “Griff” Griffin, Episcopal Diocese of California
  • Matt Hammer, PACT (People Acting in Community Together)
  • Reverend Sharon L. Hare, First Presbyterian Church of San Jose
  • Rev. Ann Hayes, Center for Spiritual Enlightenment
  • Rev. Glenda Hope, San Francisco Presbyterian Network Ministries
  • Rev Dr Sandy Hulse, St John’s UCC San Francisco
  • Habibe Husai
    n, Rahima Foundation
  • S. Reshma Inamdar, SEMAH Inc
  • Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe, Temple Emanu-El, San Francisco
  • Ameena Jandali, Islamic Networks Group (ING)
  • Rev. Berget Jelane, San Jose Insight Meditation
  • Ginny Johnson, Campbell United Methodist Church
  • Jyl Jurman, Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley
  • Rabbi Doug Kahn, Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
  • Rabbi Yoel Kahn, Congregation Beth El, Berkeley
  • Bhawana Kamil, MAS Bay Area
  • Rev./Dr. Alan Kelchner, Danville Congregational Church, UCC
  • Rev. Andrew Kille, Interfaith Space
  • Marilou Kishur, Council for a Parliament of World Religions
  • Rev. Jim Kitchens, Calvary Presbyterian Church
  • Rev. Ronald Kobata, Buddhist Church of San Francisco
  • Dr. H. Koya, Interfaith America
  • Rev. Rebecca Kuiken, Interfaith Council on Economics and Justice
  • Rev. Dr. Peter Lau, New Vision United Methodist Church, Millbrae
  • Dr. Jean Lesher, Parliament of the World’s Religions, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Sandra Lommasson, Bread of Life
  • Ismail Mahomed, San Ramon Valley Islamic Center
  • Rabbi Janet Marder, Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills
  • David Marshak, East Bay JCRC
  • Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, Catholic San Jose Diocese
  • Rev. Jack Michael, First Congregational Church of San Jose, UCC
  • Sajjad Mir, Shiite Association of the Bay Area (SABA)
  • Rev. Aimee Moiso, Ecumenical and Interfaith Ministries, Santa Clara University
  • Rev. Ellen Grace O’Brian, Center for Spiritual Enlightenment
  • Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones, First Unitarian Church of San Jose
  • Michael G. Pappas, San Francisco Interfaith Council
  • Rev. Susan Parsley, Forest Hill Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Rabbi Stephen Pearce, Temple Emanu-El, San Francisco
  • Fr. Jon Pedigo, St. Julie Billiart Parish
  • Rabbi Daniel Pressman, Congregation Beth David
  • Rev. Will Pritchard, Independent Liberal Catholic Fellowship
  • Abdur-Rahman, Islamic Center of East Bay
  • Imam Jamal Rahman, the Interfaith Amigos
  • Rabbi Larry Raphael, Congregation Sherith Israel, San Francisco
  • Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, Mission Bay Community Church
  • Prof. Philip Boo Riley, Santa Clara University
  • Rev. R. Richard Roe, Council of Churches of Santa Clara County
  • Rabbi Adam Rosenwasser, Congregation Beth Am
  • Rev. Katherine J. Runyeon, Presbytery of San Francisco
  • Irfan Rydhan, Muslim Unity Foundation
  • Rev. Gerald Sakamoto, San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin
  • Monsignor John Sandersfeld, St. Francis of Assisi
  • Rev. Nancy C. Schell, Westminster Presbyterian Church
  • Rabbi Avi Schulman, Temple Beth Torah
  • Rita Semel, San Francisco Interfaith Council
  • Ali Sheikholeslami, Islamic Culture Center of Northern California
  • Imam Faheem Shuaibe, Masjid Waritheen
  • Sabuhi Siddique, Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
  • Obaid Siddiqui, ICNA SF Bay Area
  • Rev. L. Don Smith, Presbyterian Church USA
  • Rev. Brian Stein-Webber, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
  • Rev. Kristin Stoneking, Cal Aggie Christian Association/CA House Campus Ministry at UC Davis, home of the Multifaith Living Community
  • Rev. Susan M. Strouse, First United Lutheran Church, San Francisco
  • Dr. Laird J. Stuart, San Francisco Theological Seminary
  • Samina Sundas, American Muslim Voice Foundation
  • Rev. Mary Lynn Tobin, Davis Community Church, Davis
  • Rev. John R. Treacy, S.J., Director of Campus Ministry, Santa Clara University
  • Rabbi Martin Weiner, Congregation Sherith Israel, San Francisco
  • Joanne Whitt, First Presbyterian Church, San Anselmo
  • Sandy Vance, First Church of Christ, Scientist