December 29, 2015
Interfaith Partners of South Carolina members are distressed and deeply saddened to hear so many of our country’s citizens and political leaders and candidates espouse retaliation to our Muslim colleagues, friends and neighbors for the actions of a small group who wrongly claim that Islam justifies their violence.
Muslims have lived peacefully in South Carolina for three centuries, but now the fear of extremists is feeding suspicion, fear, hostility, hateful speech, and demands for exaggerated scrutiny against an entire religious population. These actions would have been decried by any of our faith founders, as well as by the founders of our Democracy. Nor is such fear in keeping with the mission of Interfaith Partners.
Our Interfaith Partners members include many religions and spiritual paths, including Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Baha’i, Buddhist, Pagan, Native American, Unitarian Universalist, Jewish, and more. We work for harmonious communities through our interfaith activities because we understand the fragile bonds upon which our democracy is built. Peace in America depends upon the ability of diverse peoples to value diversity without perceiving those differences to be a threat.
Therefore, we welcome Syrian refugees fleeing death and destruction, just as this state has welcomed refugees and immigrants from around the world, beginning with the welcome extended by South Carolina’s original Native American inhabitants.
Furthermore, today Interfaith Partners joins the chorus of Muslim voices who have condemned the violence of Daesh, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and other extremist groups and individuals.
We offer our heartfelt condolences to all who have lost friends or loved ones in the violence.
We affirm our solidarity with our Muslim friends here in South Carolina, whom we have come to know as peaceful, community-minded, law-abiding citizens, and we abhor the vilification they and their religion now suffer in the rhetoric of political candidates and others who spew misinformation, hate and fear.
We rededicate ourselves as Interfaith Partners of South Carolina to the task of promoting interfaith harmony in our state and world, inviting all South Carolinians to join Interfaith Partners in promoting friendships across religious lines and in cultivating understanding and cooperation among the diverse faiths within our state.
We call now upon our elected and other leaders to demonstrate compassionate leadership.
Finally, we re-commit ourselves to uphold the human rights and freedoms of all members of our society, regardless of their religious belief or non-belief. We call for common respect, insist on justice for everyone in our community, and stand together in uplifting our Constitution to ensure religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all.
We look toward the hope and positive opportunities that the new year will bring, and we pray for the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to future generations, for the State of South Carolina, for our nation, and for the greater world community.
“We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition… In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.” —Founding Father George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 1793)