On International Day to Combat Islamophobia, National Faith Leaders Recommit to Shared Work
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2023
Nina M. Fernando
March 15th, 2023 marks four years since the hate-filled mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 51 people attending their Friday prayer services. In light of this tragedy, the UN General Assembly passed a unanimous resolution one year ago naming March 15th as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
Founded in 2010 as a national multifaith response to anti-Muslim discrimination, the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign: Standing with American Muslims, Advancing American Ideals marks this day by recommitting, yet again, to our shared work of building a fair society where all people are treated with dignity. We believe that if we are going to make an impact on this issue, the work of combating Islamophobia must not be contained to one day a year, but rather a choice we make each and every day, year after year.
In the United States of America, anti-Muslim discrimination is a volatile mix of racism and Christian nationalism that takes place at the individual, interpersonal, institutional, and structural levels of society. It threatens our democracy and our constitutional right to religious freedom, it opens the door to other forms of bigotry and discrimination that impacts fellow marginalized communities, and it betrays our most cherished American ideals — those that have not yet been fully realized for all.
Our Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign partners know that we all have a role to play in building a pluralistic and inclusive society. We all must take on the responsibility to address, counter, and prevent anti-Muslim discrimination because we all deserve to be treated with dignity and fairness, regardless of our skin color, what we wear, or how or if we pray. We must have a multi-pronged approach that involves all of our diverse multicultural and multifaith communities coming together to make meaningful lasting change. That’s why we will continue to connect, equip, and mobilize communities through our organizational programming and coalition efforts.
Shoulder to Shoulder is a part of a movement that aims to cultivate and strengthen relationships across differences toward deep solidarity and interconnectedness, because what impacts one, impacts us all.
Let this International Day to Combat Islamophobia be a national and global call-to-action to combatting all forms of racism, hate, and discrimination in all forms each and every day.
Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign faith leaders made the following statements to mark this important day:
“Now that America has affirmed her commitment to the moral and pressing issue of combatting the evil of Islamophobia at the global level by voting in support of this UNGA resolution, we need to do the same here at home, by passing the Combating International Islamophobia Act (H.R. 5665), which passed the House of Representatives back in December 2021 and creates a special office within the State Department to combat Islamophobia globally.”
- Imam Saffet Catovic, head of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances
“In our efforts to share the way of love in this hurting, divided world, there is no place for hatred or discrimination against any person of another religion. As the old spiritual says, ‘There’s plenty good room for all God’s children.’ So let us pledge ourselves this day to bring to light the work that still needs to be done in making the dream of Beloved Community a reality.”
- The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church
“The United Church of Christ stands in full solidarity with our Muslim siblings. It is our joy and delight to share partnerships with Muslim leaders around the world in our effort to center love between all people and work to build a just world for all. We condemn any attacks on the character of Muslim worshipers or violence against their peoples and property. We know full well that the pathway to a thriving human community requires love to conquer fear, understanding to displace ignorance, and acceptance to triumph over condemnation. We are better Christians because of the teachings and partnerships shared with us in those circles where Muslim leaders are present, heard, and fully engaged as full partners in a household of faith.”
- Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
“We live in dangerous times. Amid a spike in interlocking forms of hatred — including anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia — our Muslim neighbors regularly experience discrimination, aggression, and violence. We in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ‘emphatically reject such attitudes and actions, and the malice and fear that fuel them. Anti-Muslim hatred is antithetical to our Christian faith and counter to Lutheran teachings, which focus on God’s good news for the world and instill in us a love for our neighbor, the kind of love that casts out fear (1 John 4:18).’ (A Declaration of the ELCA to the Muslim Community, 2022.) For more than a decade, we have joined with other faith partners in long-haul work to end anti-Muslim bigotry and violence through the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign. Now we do so as part of a global call to all people, societies, sectors, and governments to put an end to this scourge. By working together, we can strengthen human rights, dignity, and freedom for Muslims, and for us all.”
- Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
“Combating Islamophobia is important work. Indeed, whether motivated by our respective religious faiths or our commonly held moral values, to counter all forms of hate, and the violence that often accompanies it, is the right thing to do.”
- Dr. Tony Kireopoulos, Associate General Secretary, National Council of Churches USA
“We remember and mourn the lives lost to anti-Muslim violence on this day in New Zealand, and on far too many days in far too many places. As Quakers, our faith calls us to do all we can to eliminate Islamophobia and all other forms of hate and racism. There is no room for Islamophobia in the world we seek, and we join with others in this ongoing struggle for justice, peace, and human dignity for all. ”
- Bridget Moix, FCNL General Secretary
“On this International Day to Combat Islamophobia, we declare that our Muslim neighbors are loved and cherished. Here in Central MN, we have seen Islamophobia turn into lack of equity, access and opportunity, and even result in verbal and physical aggression. We stand with all those around the world today who strive for everyone to know, love and stand up for their Muslim neighbors.”
- Natalie Ringsmuth, UNITECLOUD in St. Cloud, Minnesota
“I am proud that the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding is at the forefront of combating Islamophobia — leading national campaigns and initiatives, and working with instrumental coalitions such as Shoulder-to-Shoulder.
For too long we have witnessed how anti-Muslim bigotry has led to the most vicious forms of hostility, intolerance and physical attacks on Muslims and mosques. With the rise of anti-Muslim hatred around the world, it was imperative for the international community to recognize the seriousness of the threat posed by Islamophobia. In choosing March 15th as the International Day to combat Islamophobia — a date that corresponds to the mass shooting perpetrated by an Islamophobe at the Christchurch mosques, New Zealand — the international community has acknowledged that educating people about the danger of Islamophobia has never been so urgent. In these challenging times, it’s our responsibility to stand up for and demonstrate our allyship with our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters — our common faith and common fate.”
- Rabbi Marc Schneier, President, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
Anti-Muslim racism is one of the prevailing bigotries of our time, and it’s fueled by our cultural perceptions and biases. Learning to identify it and standing against it are important actions we can all take — and step one is committing ourselves to standing against hate of all kinds, including Islamophobia.
- Simran Jeet Singh, Shoulder to Shoulder Consultative Circle Member
“As Catholics who strive to be faithful witnesses to the teachings of Jesus, which are words of peace and compassion, we condemn all instances of Islamophobia, which serve only to divide and plant seeds of bitterness and ruin. May this special day be a sign of our commitment to fraternity and goodwill.”
- Bishop David P. Talley, Chairman, Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
“Scripture is unambiguous in its teaching that every single human being is made in the very image and likeness of God, and therefore possesses inherent dignity and sacred worth. Our Muslim siblings have every right to the same dignity and respect we should be affording to all of God’s children. The hatred, oppression, and violence we still see far too often directed at individuals and communities simply for being followers of Islam break’s God’s heart and should break ours too. I applaud the United Nations unanimous resolution naming today the International Day to Combat Islamophobia and hope that this will inspire governments, religious communities, and individuals to redouble their commitment to ensure that all people can practice their beliefs without fear or discrimination.”
- Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, President of Sojourners
“The historic Baptist commitment to religious freedom for ALL means little if we don’t do everything we can to combat Islamophobia. There are no second-class faiths, and we reject all attempts to marginalize our Muslim neighbors. Christian nationalism and white supremacy fuel anti-Muslim bigotry. Christians, especially white Christians, have a responsibility to combat anti-Muslim bigotry wherever and whenever it emerges. We mark this International Day to Combat Islamophobia by recommitting ourselves as Baptists to defending the religious freedom of all people as an expression of our Christian faith and our support for Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.”
- Amanda Tyler, Executive Director of BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) and lead organizer of Christians Against Christian Nationalism
“March 15, the International Day to Combat Islamophobia, is a day of sacred commemoration. On this day we renew our efforts to oppose all forms of racism and anti-religious violence. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Muslim brothers and sisters. “
- Rabbi Burton Visotzky, Director, Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, Jewish Theological Seminary
“The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) welcomes the designation of March 15 as the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia.” We hope that more and more people will take such opportunities to learn more about Islam and to meet their Muslim neighbors. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) stands firmly against anti-Islamic attitudes and anti-Muslim actions, which are manifested in many ways, including on debates about immigration in the US and Canada, and the continuing reality of hate crimes. As Christians observe the season of Lent and Muslims enter the month of Ramadan, we pray that people of both faiths can find ways to work together for justice and peace in our shared communities and in the world.”
- Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
“The Judeo-Christian scriptures consistently remind us about the calling to love our neighbors as ourselves and live at peace with everyone insofar as it depends on us. The way of Christ forbids us to engage in violence, discrimination, and hostility against anyone. May the church demonstrate these values and convictions to Muslims in the United States, Canada, and around the world.”
- Dr. Zachary King, the General Secretary of The Christian Reformed Church in North America
Shoulder to Shoulder is a coalition of 36 national religious denominations and faith-based organizations dedicated to addressing and opposing anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States.