In addition to offering our prayers for the people of Brussels and Ankara, both places recently rocked by terrorist attacks, we issue the following statement condemning Islamophobia and anti-immigrant attitudes:
We, the Cabinet of Interfaith Partnership, condemn the rise of rhetoric which sharply contrasts with our ideals as Americans and as people of faith. We speak with clarity of heart against the troubling rise of Islamophobia and anti-immigration sentiments in our city and our country as a whole. In particular, we oppose any language that seeks to dehumanize and misrepresents the human dignity of persons in the Muslim community. Likewise, we speak unitedly against any effort to denigrate any peaceful person or group because of their religion, ethnicity or skin color.
We have a wholly different view of our Muslim and immigrant friends than is being portrayed by this type of hateful speech. St. Louis is home to more than 90,000 Muslims, whose clergy and lay leaders are an integral part of our movement of interfaith solidarity. We exist in reciprocal and authentic relationship. We learn together; we pray together; we stand up together against hate. In November 2015, the first leaders to speak at our prayer service after the Paris attacks were Muslim imams. In January 2016, the Islamic Foundation of St. Louis opened their doors to a packed auditorium to offer hospitality, dialogue and mutual learning. Together, we continually strive to work for peace and the common good. Unfortunately, our Muslim sisters and brothers have seen their religion seized by a network of terrorists. Rhetoric is on the rise that conflates these terrorists with the billions of peace-loving Muslims around the world.
Furthermore, our St. Louis community has welcomed refugees and immigrants to our civic, academic, business and faith communities. Interfaith Partnership has consistently advocated for policies and practices that value newcomers to our area. Our moral imperative is to welcome and care for those in need. Additionally, data shows that the true inclusion of non-native-born persons generates regional prosperity for all. Unfortunately, we are still hearing rhetoric that characterizes immigrants and refugees as a threat to our security and culture.
Language and practices that vilify innocent people are abhorrent, unjustified and unacceptable to us as people of faith and good will.
Rev. C. Jessel Strong, Cabinet Chair
Dr. Paul F. Hintze, Cabinet Vice Chair