“Out of Many, One”: An Interfaith Call for Dignity & Diligence
The 2016 national elections exposed deep and painful divisions in our country. While a healthy democracy requires a lively exchange of ideas and impassioned debate, the political wrangling of the last several months left far too many people feeling ignored, misunderstood, insulted, or vilified. In this moment of transition and uncertainty, we recommit ourselves to working across lines of difference—economic, racial, ethnic, religious, gender, and otherwise—to heal wounds and fashion a more dignified and compassionate way forward for all people of this great nation.
First, we must find concrete ways for individuals from different segments of society—Democrats and Republicans, Jews, Christians and Muslims, urban and rural, citizen and new immigrant—to engage each other respectfully, sharing hopes and fears, and working collectively to realize our common values and ideals. We need not agree on all matters of substance, but we do need to listen to each other carefully, share our perspectives humbly, and together develop an ethos of care and consideration.
Second, we stand firmly against all forms of bigotry and bullying in our homes, schools, houses of worship, and civic and political organizations. The quality of our democracy depends on this: that the rights and freedoms of minorities and those marginalized are safeguarded and honored. There can be no genuine movement forward without vigilant resistance in the face of racism, xenophobia, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, sexism, misogyny, or any other form of hate speech or acts of defamation or violence.
As it states in the book of Genesis (1:26), every human being is created in the “Divine image”; meaning, that all people are of inestimable worth and should be treated as such. And as the Quran (49:13) teaches, “… We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.”
In rededicating ourselves to this great civic project, we are also inspired by the age-old maxim, E pluribus unum, “Out of many, one.” This motto, so important to our Founding Fathers, signals a seminal truth of this great republic: that our diversity is our strength, a source of beauty, creativity, and industry. For our country to flourish, we need the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual contributions of many different kinds of people throughout society.
In issuing this statement, we call on our elected officials to join us in this effort to renew the civic landscape so that a spirit of dignity and compassion infuses both local and national governmental affairs. Further, we implore all Massachusetts representatives to share this message with their colleagues—those in one’s party and those on the other side of the aisle—and work together to help mend the broken parts of our political system. In the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States of America: “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
Initiating Signatories (in alphabetical order):
-Reverend Jack Ahern, Administrator, St. Mary Parish, Randolph, MA
-Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, Dean, The Rabbinical School of Hebrew College
-Jeremy Burton, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
-Maria Teresa Dávila, PhD, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Andover Newton Theological School
-Sheikh Yasir Fahmy, Senior Imam, Islamic Society of Boston & Cultural Center
-Celene Ibrahim, Muslim Chaplain, Tufts University
-Reverend Dr. Ray Hammond, Senior Pastor, Bethel AME Church of Boston
-Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, President, Hebrew College, Chair, Boston Theological Institute
-Salma Kazmi, Executive Director, Boston Islamic Seminary
-Rabbi David Lerner, Senior Rabbi, Temple Emunah, Lexington, MA, President, Massachusetts Board of Rabbis
-Mary Elizabeth Moore, PhD, Dean, The Boston University School of Theology
-Nahma Nadich, Associate Director, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
-Reverend Dr. Rodney Petersen, Executive Director, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries
-Reverend Oscar Pratt, Administrator, St. Katherine Drexel Parish, Boston, MA
-Rabbi Or Rose, Director, The Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership, Hebrew College
-Reverend Daniel Smith, Senior Minister, First Church in Cambridge
-Rabbi Toba Spitzer, Senior Rabbi, Dorshei Tzedek, Newton, MA, Vice President, Massachusetts Board of Rabbis
-Reverend Burns Stanfield, Senior Minister, Fourth Presbyterian Church of Boston, President, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization
-Reverend Thomas Stegman, S.J., Dean, Boston College School of Theology & Ministry
-Reverend Dr. Nancy Taylor, Senior Minister and CEO, Old South Church in Boston
-Yusufi Vali, Executive Director, Islamic Society of Boston & Cultural Center
-Rabbi Elaine Zecher, Senior Rabbi, Temple Israel of Boston
-Reverend Liz Walker, Pastor, Roxbury Presbyterian Church
-Reverend Bryan Wilkerson, Senior Pastor, Grace Chapel, Lexington, MA
We wish to thank the following elected officials for joining us in signing this statement:
-Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Boston
-Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts
-Attorney General Maura Healy, Massachusetts
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