Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Response by Religious Leaders Aided by Former Synodical Bishop, Rev. Don McCoid

ELCA News Service reported that the Rev. Don McCoid, Executive for the ELCA's Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations was part of the committee that drafted the statement that denounced the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric. Rev. McCoid is quoted as saying, "This was an exceptional gathering of Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders. In the midst of so much frenzy against Muslims, these diverse religious leaders stood together in solidarity to address the prejudices and bigotry that have surfaced in the media and in politics. The right to free exercise of religion in this country is very basic."

Rev. McCoid is my former synodical bishop and someone incredibly important in my discernment and becoming a pastor. It is not a reach at all to say that if not for him I might not be a pastor today. I am pleased that he continues to play such a role in interfaith affairs. Our common humanity must be respected. Living in a pluralistic society as we do, our efforts to work for the common good will be hampered by such actions. In addition witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot include hate such as the burning of another tradition's sacred text. Such an action in no way shows love for our enemy. Rather it incites them and strengthens their opposition and determination to hearing of the love of God in Christ Jesus.

The full text of the religious leaders' comments can be read here. One paragraph that I particularly like is
We are committed to building a future in which religious differences no longer lead to hostility or division between communities. Rather, we believe that such diversity can serve to enrich our public discourse about the great moral challenges that face our nation and our planet. On the basis of our shared reflection, we insist that no religion should be judged on the words or actions of those who seek to pervert it through acts of violence; that politicians and members of the media are never justified in exploiting religious differences as a wedge to advance political agendas or ideologies; that bearing false witness against the neighbor—something condemned by all three of our religious traditions—is inflicting particular harm on the followers of Islam, a world religion that has lately been mischaracterized by some as a “cult.”

The list of leaders who signed is impressive. I would local leaders will be just as vocal in their communities.

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