A Statement from the Interfaith Council of Western Massachusetts
The news this past week has been filled with threats and violence against our neighbors and friends. We are devastated by the reports of bomb threats to 29 Jewish Community Centers around our country last week including a threat that resulted in the evacuation of our Springfield JCC on Friday, March 3, 2017. We are appalled at extensive desecration of Jewish cemeteries, threats and vandalism against Muslim communities and mosques, and the killing of seven transgender people since the start of 2017, most of them trans women of color. Our Muslim friends are newly vulnerable in the wake of our President’s updated travel ban from six muslim-majority countries and full-stop denial of entry to immigrants from Syria and other war-torn countries.
As members of our diverse faith communities, we are alarmed at the rise in anti-semitism and islamophobia in our country, and are united in condemning all acts of violence committed against anyone, especially in the name of religion. In the words of one of our members, “No one deserves to be killed because of who they are.”
Sacred Scripture says, “Do not stand by idly while your neighbor bleeds. (Lev. 19:17)” Therefore, we call all our brothers and sisters in the Greater Springfield community to stand together in mutual respect and honor of all of us, protecting any who come under attack and standing against hate. We ask our civic and religious leaders to speak out against such actions and to affirm the diversity of our community as a source of pride and strength.
The Interfaith Council of Western Massachusetts brings together Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, Buddhist, and Unitarian Universalist communities from the Greater Springfield area regularly to learn about each other, to advocate for justice and to respond to life in our shared community together. We know that all of us share core values of compassion, justice and peacemaking, and our traditions have founders and leaders who call us to extend these out to the world. We are committed to standing together in mutual respect and right relationship, calling each other to the best of each of our sacred teachings, and reflecting that out to our world. As another of our members has said, “We need to educate our communities in love.”
The officers of the Interfaith Council of Western Mass on behalf of all our communities of faith
President: Dr. Martin Pion, Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
Vice President: Rev. Dr. Janet Burdewik, United Church of Christ
Treasurer: Mary E. Johnson, Esq. (Islamic Society of WM)
Scribe: Rev. Lauren Holm, UCC/Lutheran Church
Communications Coordinator: Rev. Marisa Brown Ludwig, UCC
For quotes or more information, please contact Martin Pion at (413) 265-2581