I write today with a heart broken open, as I grieve with our siblings of the Muslim faith throughout the world. The heinous attack that took place in Christchurch New Zealand last Friday, the 50 precious lives lost, the dozens of people wounded while at prayer—all these things feel unspeakable to us. And yet we MUST speak. The worldwide white supremacist movement grows stronger each day, and too many of us remain in denial of the danger it poses for all of us.
In the coming days, there will be many opportunities to show our love and support for our Muslim neighbors. I hope that you will take the time to be present as you are able. In Oakland, there will be a vigil Monday at 6:30 pm at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater, on the south side of the Lake. Here in Berkeley at the Graduate Theological Union, we will also gather for reflection and prayer this week. Pacific School of Religion President David Vasquez-Levy writes:
“Please join us for a GTU wide, interfaith prayer vigil in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers, and against all forms of hatred. Led by representatives from our GTU schools and centers, we will gather this Tuesday, March 19, at 4:00 p.m. in front of the chapel at Pacific School of Religion (1798 Scenic Avenue, Berkeley).”
It is not enough to oppose the virulent hatred that is Islamophobia in our private thoughts; we need to follow up with our public presence and our actions. Those among us who are the targets of this hatred must know that they are not alone, that we realize our futures and theirs are inextricably bound. Just as important, those who traffic in Islamophobia and other manifestations of white supremacy culture must know how thoroughly we reject their poisonous ideology. All people of good will, and especially those of us who are people of faith, must embrace one another as we battle to protect human life and human flourishing. May all our hearts be broken open, that we might be ever more willing to pray—and to work— for the Beloved Community that is our ever-present hope.