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Letters to the editor: Religious leaders condemn violent acts of bigotry, injustice

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 12:01 am

As religious leaders, as neighbors and colleagues, we mourn together the tragic events at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom in Overland Park of metropolitan Kansas City in April. We pray for the victims of this violence and join in commitment to a world where such acts have no place.

We stand together in opposition to acts and attitudes of hatred wherever they occur. We stand in solidarity with all who are victims of hate crimes and other discriminatory and intolerant behaviors intended to harm or diminish the personhood of another.

All citizens have a commitment and responsibility to challenge violent bigotry. Acts of hatred and intolerance demand a public response because of the extraordinary damage they cause to an individual and to an entire community. Crimes which that target individuals or groups because of their race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability have no place in civil society. They must be met with a public outcry for justice,; with a commitment to end the attitude of intolerance and the sense of superiority in which these acts have their origin.

As people of faith, we recognize and acknowledge our own failings as good neighbors and compassionate friends. We challenge ourselves and others to be better. And we challenge our own community and communities throughout this land to change the narrative of intolerance, discrimination, and violence, which has too often characterized our shared history.

As we think prayerfully today about the victims of Overland Park, we are particularly mindful of the long and shameful history of anti-Semitism. We agree with former Sen. Paul Sarbanes that “Where anti-Semitism persists, the well-being of all our people is at risk.” In this holy season, mMay our Jewish sisters and brothers know that they are respected, valued, and appreciated as equal partners in the adventure of community.

We will not be silent in the face of injustice. We will not stand idly when any of our neighbors are targeted in acts of persecution and violence. We will live for what is humane and just for all people in this community and throughout the world.

Rev. Terry Anderson, Just Neighbors; Rabbi Javier Cattapan, Congregation Achduth Vesholom; Rev. Gary Erdos, Trinity English Lutheran Church; Rev. Brian Flory, Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren; Rev. Kimberly Koczan Flory, Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren; Rev. John Gardner, Plymouth Congregational Church; Rev. Fred Haseke, Trinity English Lutheran Church; Rabbi Mitchell Kornspan, Congregation B’nai Jacob; Rev. Arianne Braithwaite Lehn, First Presbyterian Church; Rev. Jeff Lehn, First Presbyterian Church; Rev. Christen Pettit Miller, Peace United Church of Christ; Rev. Ruth Phillips, Plymouth Congregational Church; Rev. Misty-Dawn Shelly, Unitarian Universalist Congregation; Ferril M. Sorenson II, stake president, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints