Conference Leaders Issue Letter in Response To Anti-Islamic Propaganda
Editor's Note: The following letter was released by leaders of the three southern New England Conferences of the United Church of Christ:
When someone asked Jesus to name the greatest commandment, he said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength. And the second is Love your neighbor as yourself.” When asked to define “neighbor,” Jesus told a story involving a foreigner of a different religious tradition acting with love toward a wounded stranger. For millennia, Christians have understood these commandments to be the foundation of our words and deeds.
Recently, many of our churches received a mailing from an organization called “ACT for America.” In a letter and accompanying brochure, the organization asks the question “Should Christians speak out against Islam as a religion which promotes violence and human rights abuses?” The brochure specifically targets Muslim refugees as a threat to our nation and calls for Christians to oppose refugee resettlement of Muslims. The letter also indicates that interfaith conversations are actually efforts by the Islamic community to deceive and convert. Therefore, not only should Christians not participate in interfaith dialogue, but the group calls on us to actively oppose Islam, from a “desire to rid the world of such painful human rights abuses.”
As leaders of the United Church of Christ in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, our response to their question is a resounding “No!” In these divisive times, we believe our call is not to speak out against any faith, but rather double our efforts to speak with our kin of all faiths. We believe that we can work together as neighbors to find the lost and heal the broken. We believe that the call to feed the hungry and welcome the stranger compels us to aid the refugees of the world, regardless of faith tradition.
As Christian leaders we want to make very clear that ACT for America does not speak for all Christians, and certainly not for us. In response to their call for hate and division, let us redouble our efforts to love our neighbors, all our neighbors, as ourselves.
The Rev. Da Vita “Day” McCallister, Associate Conference Minister of Leadership and Vitality, Connecticut Conference UCC
The Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, Minister and President, Massachusetts Conference UCC
The Rev. Barbara Libby, Interim Conference Minister, Rhode Island Conference UCC