PHA: Our Muslim community is not to blame for extremists’ actions

iStock_000015974322_Large-1024x681As a person of faith, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the anger and vitriol being shown toward Muslims who live in the Dallas community. You may have heard of the protesters that gathered outside a Muslim conference in Garland.

Partly as a response to this, Northaven United Methodist Church recently hosted an event inviting clergy of all faiths to come together and support Muslims’ right to assemble peacefully and to worship God as they wish. More than 400 people attended, including rabbis, imams and dozens of Christian ministers.

The gathered clergy and religious leaders all read a joint statement that, among other things, said this:
“Our common message today is to stand united as neighbors and citizens, and to bear witness to the values of this nation; values that make 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.”

These protests paint all Muslims as murderous, evil terrorists. The truth is that most Muslims are good neighbors and peaceful members of our community.

(An excerpt from my March Preston Hollow Advocate column. Read the whole essay here)

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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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