How Can You Spread Peace in the Midst of Anti-Muslim Rhetoric?

Since the Paris attacks the U.S. has seen an increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric that isolates our Muslim neighbors and feeds into a culture of fear.

What can you do to counteract this trend?

RCC's national vice president Bud Heckman (second from left) joins others in Religions for Peace USA's Our Muslim Neighbor Initiative.

Religions for Peace USA's Our Muslim Neighbor Initiative is a national effort to end Islamophobia. For the last three years they have been on the ground in Tennessee building communities of trust across racial and religious lines. In 2016, they will begin working with key partners up in Minnesota.

Over the years, they have developed strategies and resources to help people reach out and relate to their neighbors, to understand Islam and Muslims better, and to build communities of trust that break down stereotypes eating away at the goodwill that is so necessary for strong communities to thrive.

They are making available three online lectures of some of the nation's leading voices on interfaith peacebuilding. Listen to the lectures and share widely! 

Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Ingrid MattsonDr. Ingrid Mattson is a professor of Islamic Studies and the London and Windsor Community Char in Islamic Studies at Huron University College, at the University of Western Ontario. She is the former president of the Islamic Society of North America. 

Dr. Mattson speaks to the importance of finding the neighbor in Islam and the challenges of building relationships of trust between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Access her lectures here: Part 1Part 2Part 3

Rev. Richard Cizik

Richard CizikRev. Richard Cizik was the Vice President for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals for 28 years before starting the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good. 

Rev. Cizik speaks to the importance of Evangelical - Muslim relationships. 

Access his lectures here: Part 1Part 2Part 3

Gen. Maj. Douglas Stone

Douglas StoneGen. Maj. Douglas Stone recently relinquished the position of Deputy Commanding General, Detainee Operations, Multi-National Force-Iraq and Commander, Task Force 134, commanding all detention operations in at Camp Cropper, Camp Bucca and Camp Ashraf.

Gen. Stone addresses the importance of building communities of trust, and avoiding isolating important members of your community in order to counter radicalization.

Access his lectures here: Part 1Part 2Part 3

Passages for reflection

After the Paris attacks we asked some of the leaders of the Our Muslim Neighbor initiative – the Our Muslim Neighbor Voices – to provide scriptural passages from their respective traditions. These are the passages they offered to us for reflection and mourning.

Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia

Tarunjit Singh ButaliaWhat has happened in Paris breaks all of our hearts and shocks us into the reality that the world is at times a broken place in need of reconciliation and deep healing.

In my tradition, we are called by God to love and protect and care for all. At times like this I am reminded of the translation of Sabad by Siri Guru Arjun Sahib as recorded in Siri Guru Granth Sahib, that reads: "O God take care of everyone and have mercy.

My thoughts and prayers are with those in Paris.

Dr. Yehezkel Landau

Yehezkel LandauThe verse from the Hebrew Bible that I find most consoling and helpful when atrocities like the ones in Paris and Beirut happen is Genesis 50:20. Joseph says to his brothers, "What you meant to do unto me for evil God used for good."

Even evil acts can be redeemed and transformed by God. But we must be God's partners and agents in such transformation. Prayers and sermons are insufficient. We must confront, and ideally pre-empt, the violence of religious extremists with two kinds of faithful service: the prophetic work of countering dehumanizing ideologies with life-affirming witness, along with the priestly or pastoral work of healing broken, embittered, and despairing hearts.

Rev. Richard Cizik

Richard Cizik"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." ~ Matthew 5:4

This is my favorite text, as I know we all especially hurt and suffer when we lose our loved ones, as the French have just experienced. And yet we are praying for God's comfort upon them.

Rabbi Amy Eilberg

Amy EilbergI lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you – the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. ~ Psalm 121:1-8

The work of Religions for Peace USA depends on common actions based on values deeply shared and widely held by people of all religions. No community should to be threatened and intimidated for their religious beliefs.

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