It’s getting real in a whole new way for Americans involved in local, regional and national interfaith movements.
Donald Trump’s election is seeing to that.
Religious folk who thought they had an uphill battle against sporadic prejudice, here and there, are wondering if anti-Muslim bigotry may soon be codified and methodically applied across the nation.
“What the president-elect has spoken about during this election cycle should have alarmed every American, and every Baptist, who cherishes religious liberty,” said Mitch Randall, an ardent proponent of ecumenical and interfaith efforts and pastor of NorthHaven Church in Norman, Okla.
“Every person has a right to worship, or not worship, their God as their conscience dictates.”
Randall said he spoke with the imam of an area mosque about this topic during a recent gathering of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches.
“I let him know personally if he needs a Baptist minister to stand beside him, then I would be glad to do that,” Randall said.
And he isn’t alone in making such a pledge.
‘I support your right of religious freedom’
“It’s a message that’s being delivered in cities like Boston, where 2,600 people poured into a mosque Sunday night for an interfaith service, and Nashville, Tenn., where residents created a chalk mural of support outside a mosque,” the Christian Science Monitor reported this week.
The message was also communicated in Phoenix, Ariz., where the mayor and hundreds of others lined up to purchase food from a Lebanese baker whose store was vandalized.
The support has also come from sources some would consider unexpected.
“I’m here today, to say as a Southern Baptist, I want you Muslims to know, I love you, I care about you, I support your right of religious freedom,” Bob Roberts said in remarks included in the article. Roberts, who is from Keller, Texas, made the comments in a mosque in Washington D.C. “I will stand with you, and there are many of us.”
A Presbyterian minister told a gathering of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization that not all conservatives are alike.
“My guess is that most of you didn’t vote for our president-elect, but you need to know that not every Trump supporter is a bigot,” Burns Stanfield said, according to the Christian Science Monitor. “I know that because I have people in my own congregation whom I love, who voted for the man, and they are decent good people. People who like most of us want decent wages and an apartment they can afford, affordable health care.”
‘Importance of solidarity’
Events like those in Boston, Phoenix and Nashville are much more than symbolic acts, Randall said.
First, they communicate to laypeople that Christian leaders are taking stands on the behalf of the vulnerable. In turn, everyday believers may be inspired to do the same where possible.
For others, seeing Baptists and Jews, Muslims and others working together may be the only opportunity they get to glimpse the humanity of the members of other faiths.
“It helps them understand the importance of solidarity,” he said.
It also lets those fearful of Muslims know they have powerful allies in other faiths.
“It helps them process what is going on in the world and to understand terrorists do not represent all Muslims, Randall said.