The Interchurch Community takes a stand against hatred and intimidation
Three members of the Interchurch Community took the lead in organizing a press conference at the Indiana Statehouse on November 18th. The Jewish Community Relations Council, the Muslim Alliance of Indiana and the Center for Interfaith Cooperation joined several other organizations to speak out against the growing number of hate incidents in Indiana. At the press conference, these groups released a statement that was printed in the Indianapolis Star on Sunday November 20. your congregation or organization is welcome to add your signature.
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Faith & Ethnic Communities Stand Together Against Acts of Intimidation and Hate November 17, 2016
Indiana is currently experiencing a rising tide of hateful rhetoric and actions. Swastikas and other symbols of antisemitism are appearing across the state. Latino children are brought to tears by the cruel taunts of classmates demanding they be forced out of the country. St. David’s Episcopal Church in Bean Blossom was defiled by anti-gay graffiti. Muslim women endure crude jeers because they cover their heads with hijabs, while nearly all Muslims feel anxious about being targeted. Racist insults such as “Black lives don’t matter” are being spray-painted at schools. Acts like this are meant to terrorize entire communities, and the list is growing every day.
We will not allow this climate of intimidation and intolerance to become the “new normal” in our state. More than simply condemning the words and acts of bigotry, we commit to standing alongside one another, to standing up for one another, and to working together to support frightened Hoosiers.
Although our political views may differ, we can all agree that children shouldn’t live in daily fear that their families will be torn apart. Although our religious traditions may differ, we can all agree that no group should feel threatened for practicing their faith. Although we have may have different ethnic backgrounds, we can all agree that racism diminishes the quality of life for everyone in the community.
It is incumbent upon every Hoosier to model behavior worth emulating by our children: that when we see intolerance or hatred directed toward anyone, we make our voice for peace and respect one that echoes loudly over the voices of hatred.
It may feel like religious, political, cultural, and ethnic differences are tearing at the fabric of who we are as a nation. We disagree. Our differences can – and do – make us stronger as a community and better as individuals.
We invite all Hoosiers to join us in standing against intimidation and hatred. A first practical step in doing this is starting a respectful conversation with – and listening to – someone who may be different from you. If we all do this, then we will be building the bridges of understanding among us, and over the seeming divides.
Rima Shahid, executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana
Lindsey Mintz, executive director of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council
Jason Nolan-Doerr, president of Indy Pride
Tony Mason, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Urban League
Marlene Arellano Dotson, president and CEO of the Indiana Latino Institute
Terri Morris Downs, executive director of the Immigrant Welcome Center
Charlie Wiles, executive director of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation
Glenn Tebbe, executive director of Indiana Catholic Conference
Pastor Bruce Garrison, The Dwelling Place Christian Community
Rev. Anastassia Zinke, All Souls Unitarian Church
John W Samples, president of the Christian HolyLand Foundation
Rabbi Dennis C Sasso, Congregation Beth-El Zedeck
The Rev. Canon Bruce W Gray, Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis
Erin Polley, American Friends Service Committee
The Rev. Julia E. Whitworth, Rector Trinity Episcopal Church of Indianapolis
“Intolerance is pulsing through American society,” said Lindsey Mintz, executive director of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council….
Lindsey Mintz, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, speaks at a press conference at the Statehouse Nov. 18
Let’s uphold our constitutional liberties, said Rima Shahid, executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, and remember our cherished American values of freedom and equality. Her voice wavered as she spoke, then broke. She wiped tears from her eyes.
“Sister,” Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Capt. John Walton called after her later. Shahid turned, and he embraced her. “Let me tell you something,” Walton said to her, a black man to a Muslim woman. “You do not have to be afraid.”
One of the speakers at Friday’s event became overwhelmed with emotion as she spoke.
Rima Shahid, executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, overcome by emotion
Rima Shahid with the Muslim Alliance of Indiana says many Muslims across the country live in fear of a rising tide of hate. “We hope and party that new elected officials and administrations that take office in January will be guided to preserve our constitutional liberties,” she said.
WIBC News, “Racial and Religious Minority Groups Call for Unity, Hate Crimes Law”
Racial and religious minorities are banding together to push back at a string of bias incidents in the week since the election.Schools have reported harassment of Arab and Latino students. And Lindsey Mintz with the Jewish Community Relations Council says there have been six reports of swastikas in the last week and a half. Normally, she says there’s one such incident a year.Mintz says it’s past time for legislators to approve a hate crimes law. Indiana is one of five states without a hate crime law, an omission Mintz calls “shameful.” She says a coalition of 30 advocacy groups is working to mobilize voters across the state to push legislators to pass a bill in 2017. Mintz argues painting swastikas and similar acts don’t victimize just one person, but are aimed at intimidating entire communities.
Jewish, Muslim, Hispanic and LGBT activists joined Indianapolis deputy mayor David Hampton at the statehouse In urging people to expand their social circles to get to know people of other backgrounds. They argue eliminating the “otherness” of minority groups will help replace division with unity.
Mintz and Indy Pride interim executive director Jason Nolan-Doerr say there have always been undercurrents of prejudice, but say they’re concerned hate groups feel newly empowered by fiery election rhetoric. Mintz says she’s hopeful that bringing those prejudices into the open will give momentum to the hate crimes debate.
Indianapolis Urban League president Tony Mason says some of the targeting of minority groups reflects economic frustrations, as people of all ideologies try to get better jobs, incomes or health care. But he urges people victimized by harassment to report it to police or the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. Otherwise, he says, it’s just hearsay.
Executive Director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana Rima Shahid says the Muslim community has reported instances of bullying, intimidation and physical assaults.Shahid laments the trend, noting Muslims have been a part of the country since long before America declared its independence.“We hope and pray that new elected officials and administrations that take office in January will be guided to preserve our Constitutional liberties…and most cherished values of freedom and equality,” Shahid says.