An Interfaith Statement of Support for Muslims in Dallas

The following was the interfaith statement read at yesterday’s gathering. Dozens of clergy from all traditions stood with us, as this statement was read.

An Interfaith Statement

IMG_2922We have gathered here today out of our mutual concern over vitriolic language and protests last weekend in our community. We were deeply disturbed by images and video of hateful rhetoric aimed at peaceful Muslim brothers and sisters; who are our neighbors, our friends, and our coworkers in the Dallas community.

So today, we choose to make this united stand, in love, peace, mutual support, and respect. We reject all forms of animosity or discrimination against any of our faith communities here in the DFW area.  We recognize the right of all faiths to worship God, to love and serve their faith-communities, and to serve the greater Dallas community. And we recognize their right to do so without fear of the threats of violence from others.

Collectively, we represent men and women who are Christian, Jewish,  Muslim, Buddhists, Jains, Hindus and Sikhs, and other faith communities.

Our common message today is to stand united as neighbors and citizens, and to bear witness to the values of this nation; values that makes no room for bigotry based on race and religion. We recall that many of the founders of this nation came here to avoid religious persecution. They founded a nation where all faiths would be free to worship and serve their God freely.

We recognize that extremism is a danger in all religious faiths, as it is in all political systems. We reject violence in the name of religion. At the same time, we also reject the idea that faithful Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others are responsible for extremists in their own faith. It is wrong to paint the whole of any religion as responsible for those who commit violence in the name of religion. To the contrary, we stand here today unified in our desire for the peaceful coexistence of all human beings.

We are all the beneficiaries of this great American democracy. However, in our generation, we must continue to be people of tolerance and respect, making room for traditions different from our own, and remembering that each religious person has just as much right to their faith tradition as do we. That is the beauty and power of American society, and it is what still makes us a beacon of hope for the world.

We recall how the Jewish Scripture tell us the Lord requires us to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

The Quran reminds us, “stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God (Allah), even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God (Allah) can best protect both.” [Quran 4:135]

And the Christian faith, along with Judaism, reminds us to, …”Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and  “your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:29-30

The specific concern of our day is the threat of rising Islamophobia, both here and around the nation. We invite all lovers of democracy, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion to stand with us. With the hope of our great nation, and mutual respect for all, we stand for religious freedom, tolerance, and the freedom of all religious persons to worship God and serve the community.

Interfaith Religious Gathering
Northaven United Methodist Church
January 25, 2015

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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