Friday, December 9, 2016

"The opposite of love is not hate, 

it's indifference." Elie Weisel

Recently, the Islamic Center of Savannah received a threatening letter, along with several other communities in the U.S. It was written by hand and was immediately denounceed wholeheartedly by groups and individuals in our community. However, this letter reminds us here in Savannah of the threat that faces us today....... the threat of indifference. Elie Weisel reminds us of our responsibility to speak out against all threats, large or small, whether in New York City or Savannah, Georgia. As he beautifully wrote, "Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe." 

I feel fortunate to live in a city in which clergy of all faiths band together to denounce hate and bigotry. Immediately after the hearing the news of the threat, a group of clergy from a far range of faith traditions came together to sign this letter in support of our Muslim brothers and sisters. Many of us also attended Islamic Center of Savannah's worship service on Friday and were warmly welcomed by the community. Thank you to the people of Savannah for speaking out so quickly and uniformly. Below is the letter we wrote and signed.

We all know far too well the threat that unabashed hate poses to our community, our country and our world. Throughout time, human beings have taken it upon themselves to impose their beliefs upon others, believing themselves to singularly understand God’s plan for humankind. These human beings denounce others simply for being different, for having the audacity to hold diverse opinions and beliefs.

Yet whenever hate rears its ugly head, there have been so too, human beings who have joined together in support of the persecuted, slandered, and injured. Whenever one group of people faces a threat, others rise in support. Recently, the Islamic Center of Savannah received just such a threat, one based on hate and malice. As clergy, representing various faith traditions in Savannah, Georgia, we stand side by side with our Muslim brothers and sisters today and tomorrow, as we denounce those who have threatened this house of worship and all other houses of worship. When you attack one faith belief, then you attack all people of faith.

Nobel Peace laureate, Elie Wiesel once wrote, “No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior.” As Americans, we defend the rights of people in our country and around the world to pray in the fashion in which they choose. As human beings, we ask for people to stand up and defend the rights of others. As people of faith, we pray for the day in which hate no longer poses a threat to our world. 

Clergy of the Savannah

Arnold L. Addington

Imam Ibrahim 'Abdul-Malik
Masjid Jihad

Reverend Michael Chaney
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Reverend Lauren Colwell
First Baptist Church

Reverend John Finley
First Baptist Church

Reverend Daniel Firmin
Diocese of Savannah

Reverend Rachel Greiner
Memorial Health

Rabbi Robert Haas
Congregation Mickve Israel

Reverend Billy Hester
Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church

Reverend Doris Buchanan Johnson
St Peter's Episcopal Church

Reverend David Messner
Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah

Reverend Alex T. Moreschi
St. Thomas Savannah

Reverend Hunt Priest
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church

Reverend J. Gerard Schreck
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Reverend Jason Talsness
Messiah Lutheran Church 

Pastor Kevin Veitinger
The Foundery

Reverend Michael White
Christ Church Episcopal

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