In the light of recent attacks against Muslim communities, a the Program Coordinator for LSTC’s at the Center for Christian Muslim Engagement (CCME) has written a straight-forward and effective piece on how every Christian can do their part to stem anti-Muslim bigotry and violence. As always, please read and share!
Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor – “We Talk. We Listen.”
Talk to and interact with Muslims! – Talk about the weather at the bus stop, tell them that you care about them, greet them with “As-salamu alaykum”, ask them how they are doing – if there is anything you can do to support them, sit next to Muslim women on the bus (men, if you can do so without touching, that’s ideal).
Listen to Muslims, and educate yourself about Islam – There is no end to the Islamophobic statements and information in mainstream media. You can get trustworthy resources for your congregation or yourself through us here at CCME or from the ELCA. For instance, LSTC’S Adjunct Professor Carol LaHurd, and Professor Mark Swanson (Professor of Christian-Muslim Relations and Interfaith Engagement) were instrumental in pulling the following letter and the attachment together…
Resources on Terrorism and Related Anti-Islam Public Speech from The Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Muslim Relations – This will take you to a special document (with further links) prepared by a group of Lutheran professors and pastors who advise the Presiding Bishop and periodically offer informational material.The resource is intended to provide background for understanding terrorism—as well as for responding to the violent reactions and harsh anti-Muslim public speech evoked by recent terrorist attacks. The document and its linked resources draw very clear distinctions between the perpetrators of such attacks and the vast majority of Muslims around the world, including refugees, and certainly including our friends and neighbors in the U.S.A–many of whom are speaking out against these attacks, and doing so from the heart of their Islamic faith.
Do not bear false witness against your neighbor – and stop others who are doing so. If you hear incorrect information, correct it -or at least question it. Recognize your privilege in this culture (especially if you are Christian and/or white) and know that what you say may hold a lot of weight with those around you. Remember that you are speaking ‘up for and not over’ Muslim voices.
Join with Interfaith groups locally – attend events, lectures, continue to build relationships and work on all issues of concern together. Poverty, violence, health car, etc. are still of concern to Muslims too! Interfaith gatherings are always being planned year round, so likely even with the most simple of inquries (internet, asking a pastor or maybe Muslim or Jewish colleagues) it is easy to find one.
Write to community/political leaders, speak in public, make or sign statements of solidarity. Try to do so in a positive way, not fighting hate with hate, but rather teaching love.
Be accountable or apologize if you make mistakes along the way (like assuming that someone is an immigrant when they were born here, or serving ham at a meal to which you’ve invited them.)
Finally, some women (like me) are considering wearing hijab in solidarity with some of our Muslim sisters. There is much to think about with this – including appropriation vs. appropriate action. I’ve written to several Muslim female friends to find out what they think about this idea and have had a positive response so far. I’ll share my discernment process and what I hear from my friends about it in future blogs/posts/emails. It would be so powerful for this to be a movement in the New Year!
Sara Trumm serves as the Program Coordinator at A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. She grew up in MN and became interested in cross-cultural education during an East African experience after graduating from Augsburg College in Minneapolis. This led her to further work with the international community and a Master’s degree at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. She studied, traveled, and worked in India for 1 ½ years, where interfaith relations became an important aspect of her experiences and education. Upon her return to the US in 2008 she began in her present position. Learning from and working with the interfaith community continues to feed her own faith. She appreciates the diversity of Chicago, and longs for mutual understanding and respect among people of different faith and cultural traditions.