You’ve probably noticed the hyperbolic rhetoric this weekend in the wake of the radical Islamist inspired terrorism attack in San Bernardino, where Donald Trump called for closing our border to all Muslims (including Muslim-American Citizens) and the president of Liberty University called on all 113,000 of its students to arm themselves against “those Muslims” and to be prepared to “teach them a lesson” in case of a feared attack. This, of course, blames the vast majority of peaceful Muslims for the acts of a small few, and empowers and legitimizes all sorts of hate speech and acts towards peaceful, innocent people.
In response to all of this, a Facebook friend suggested:
I cannot fix Trump. But I can write a note of support to local mosques. So can you.
This was a great idea, so I drafted a letter and posted it on Facebook, seeking suggestions for improvement. In the end, I made a few minor changes and mailed this to three area Islamic Societies and a mosque that had experienced a specific threatening act on Saturday. I had planned to just leave it there, but some are asking to see the final text to share. So, here it is. Please feel free to adapt and use in your context as you see fit.
Peace to you as well this Advent season.
Dear brothers and sisters:
These days appear to be trying times for followers of Islam in our country. As the Pastor and spiritual leader of The Kirk, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and your neighbor in the Kansas City community, I extend to you a greeting of peace and love.
This is a particularly holy season for those who claim the name Christian. We await the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, whom we call the Prince of Peace. We believe that Christians are called at all times to imitate Jesus’ welcome and compassion, to love all people as God has loved us in Jesus Christ, to be peacemakers.
In this spirit, I am writing to extend my support and encouragement to your community and to all the families who find nurture there. My heart breaks at the hate speech and vile behavior toward Muslims recently expressed by some politicians and Christian leaders in our country. It is my prayer that this reprehensible behavior has not adversely impacted your community, and that you can continue to practice your faith and live your everyday lives in freedom, peace, and mutual harmony.
If we can extend to you something beyond this word of encouragement and support, please do not hesitate to ask. In particular, I would hope to explore whether there is some opportunity for our communities to come together over a shared meal or social activity, so we might come to know one another better.
Peace to you this Advent season.
Rev. Chad Andrew Herring
The Kirk of Kansas City