Today I came across an encouraging article announcing that the United Church of Christ (UCC) is expected to adopt a resolution that opposes hostility towards Islam. I think we too often hear endless examples of the signs Islamophobia is on the rise in America without also paying attention to the actions taking place to counter Islamophobia. While the unfortunate messages during part of the first GOP debate of the 2012 campaign and the Peter King hearings raise legitimate concerns, there are positive signs for those of us interested in combatting Islamophobia.
It is exciting to see members of the faith community stepping up to support fellow faiths from abuse. This was the same inspiring message of Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First’s Faith Shared event two Sundays ago that I wrote about last week. In fact, many faiths have extended their support to the Muslim community. For example, Interfaith Alliance and a broad spectrum of religious groups have come together as part of Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values. Also, the Union for Reform Judaism has drawn parallels between anti-Muslim discrimination and anti-Semitic discrimination reminding followers of the importance of defending a persecuted, minority faith. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has sponsored Catholic-Muslim dialogues. Even on a local congregation level, churches have tried to highlight common beliefs with Islam. There are many efforts and projects to decrease fear and ignorance of Islam not organized by religious organizations as well. Great projects and groups like What Unites Us (which Interfaith Alliance president and State of Belief host Rev. Welton Gaddy helped launch), The Interfaith Youth Core, and the My Fellow American Project, are all worth checking out and remind us that there is hope in the fight against Islamophobia, even if we don’t hear about it enough.
Islamophobia is real, it is scary, and studies show that it may be rising. However, it is heartening to know that there are members of the faith community and beyond working to counter this bigotry and ignorance. Hatred has always existed, but we know from history that efforts to overcome it can and do succeed and that we are on the right side of this fight. I’m so glad I saw the article about the UCC’s decision to oppose anti-Muslim bigotry (and that they recommended such a resolution in the first place) and I am really happy to discover that there are many others standing alongside in this worthwhile cause.
For more on countering anti-Muslim bigotry through Faith Shared: Uniting in Prayer and Understanding check out these discussions with Rev. Phil Blackwell, Senior Pastor of the First United Methodist Church at the Temple in Chicago and Tad Stahnke, Director of Policy and Programs, Human Rights First on State of Belief. (Please note, these are extended versions of the interviews originally broadcast nationwide.)