On Saturday a gunman with anti-Semitic views opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 and wounding 4. In disturbing irony, this happened on the very same day the world observes International Religious Freedom Day.
Today we stand in solidarity with this community and mourn their losses with them. We reject anti-Semitism and neo-Naziism and stand against religiously- or racially-motivated violence of all kinds. We are also deeply distressed by the gunman’s attitude toward Muslims and refugees. We believe that all humans bear God’s image, and we pray that this and other crimes of violence will motivate us all to work together to counter the current level of hatred, fear, white supremacy, and violence in our nation. We applaud this Jewish community’s work and that of HIAS to serve immigrants and to help and welcome refugees from around the world who seek safety in America.
/new-page-2We remain firm in our commitment to peace-building and reconciliation, both in deeds and words, and to working with those of all faiths to make our cities and our world more peaceful for us all. We are also grateful to know that we are not alone in this, as Muslim organizations and others have been generously stepping up to offer help and support.
We believe that religious freedom is a basic human and civil right and is the foundation for any just and prosperous society. We also recognize that it takes more than laws to make the world safe for diversity and that daily, individual habits that cultivate civil discourse instead of violence can actually save lives. Here are a few more blogs on why we believe religious freedom is so important and what you can do to make a difference: