More than 50 Religious Leaders Issue Sept. 11 Statement for Unity
Members of Religious Leaders Acting Together for Equality (RELATE) issue a joint public statement in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Religious communities and leaders in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago joined all in the U.S. and people of good will across the world in grieving the terrible acts of September 11, 2001. We found these crimes against humanity to be horrendous and contrary to the core teachings of our faith traditions.
RELATE (Religious Leaders Acting Together for Equality) is 52 religious leaders of Baha’i, Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant denominations from 12 northern suburbs. As a collective body of religious leaders, we originally penned this statement as a response to vicious hate crimes, including the murder of Ricky Byrdsong, on the North Shore in July 1999. Our goal in publishing this Joint Public Statement was to declare our common commitment to developing a diverse, multi-cultural community where all might dwell in harmony, peace, and abundance. We have re-released it since then when the times called for it, as they certainly did on Sept. 11, 2001.
Joint Statement of Religious Leaders
Today, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of these attacks, we call for continuing prayers for peace and unity in these difficult and uncertain times.
We abhor the stereotype‑based assumptions made about and actions taken against people of any particular faith tradition, ethnicity, or nation of origin.
We urge people in our faith communities to be especially careful when they speak to children about these crimes against humanity and those who committed these horrendous acts.
Even in our anger, we must not begin to hate.
If fear of the Other is not addressed, then the Other becomes less than human in our eyes and an object of our hate. How do we address our apprehension and fear of those we perceive as Other, those of a different race, religion, gender, socio‑economic class, sexual orientation, or physical ability? By dwelling together in mutual regard for the common good while we celebrate the richness of the unique gifts we bring to one another.
Ultimately, the only way to begin to realize the dream of a diverse, multi‑cultural community living in peace and prosperity is to dwell together side by side. Mutual understanding and respect become possible through dwelling together in the same time and space while we share the same food, songs, stories, hopes, and fears as we look into one another’s eyes. Dwelling in proximity to one another is not a panacea for attaining harmony. But only when we have the opportunity to look into one another’s eyes can we know we have the same hopes and fears.
Through dwelling and sharing together, we can learn to affirm and celebrate each as a living embodiment of the one God. We can come to repent of our prejudice and discrimination, seek forgiveness and reconciliation, and bind together in a common future.
We can realize that in fact there is no Other; there is only Us.
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