Interfaith Statement Against Hate and Discrimination
We, the undersigned members of the Interfaith Action Committee of the Lehigh Conference of Churches, stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters and against ACT for America’s planned “March Against Sharia” scheduled for June 10th in Harrisburg locally and up to twenty other U.S. cities. We declare that this march goes beyond First Amendment rights and is in fact an act of intimidation designed to incite fear in a specific American minority community. This march could incite violence against American Muslims. While the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, it also guarantees a citizen’s right to practice his or her religion unmolested. This march is an act against all of Islam. The march happens during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan which makes it more offensive.
ACT for America is an anti-Muslim organization that has declared all Muslims as terrorists. We denounce this statement as contrary to our experience of the Muslim community locally and in the world in general. The local Muslim leaders have issued several statements denouncing the actions of terrorists as against Islamic teachings. There have also been statements from many other Muslim organizations worldwide denouncing terrorists.
According to a 2015 survey of religious populations, there are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world. If they were all in fact terrorists the world would be engulfed in war. The terrorists that claim Islam make up less than 1% of Muslims worldwide and Muslim leadership has declared that they do not follow Muslim doctrine in that their acts are contrary to Islamic law and teaching.
The Quran commands believers (Chapter 5, verse 32), “If anyone slew a person be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if he slew the whole humanity; and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole humanity.”
The killing of innocent non-combatants is forbidden. According to Sunni tradition, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, gave these instructions to his armies: “I instruct you in ten matters: Do not kill women, children, the old, or the infirm; do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town . . .” (Malik’s Muwatta’, “Kitab al-Jihad.”)
The Southern Poverty Law Center has declared ACT for America an anti-Muslim hate group. Sadly, since November’s election, hate crimes against all minorities have risen drastically and against Muslims the increase is over 50%.
Actions to take: Contact your religious leaders and ask them to publicly speak out against this March. Contact your elected officials and tell them this action does not represent most Americans.
Actions not to take: Do not engage this group or counter-protest, do not attend the march. They are looking for an audience and attention.
You counter this group by speaking out through the media with letters to the editor, encouraging your faith leaders to condemn this publically and from the pulpit, contacting your legislators that this is not acceptable in our towns. You educate yourselves on the reality of Islam, visit local mosques when they have an open house. Talk to your Muslim neighbors.
Rev. Thomas E Cormier Jr, Chair of the Interfaith Action Committee
Rev. Marian Johnson
The Rev. Dr. Peter A. Pettit
Rabbi Seth D Phillips
The Rev. Dr. Larry Pickens
Prof. Mohamed Rajmohamed
Rev. Steven H. Shussett
S. Aqeel Syed
Rev. Thomas N. Thomas
The Rev. Canon Maria Tjeltveit