Prayers for the victims of white supremacy, islamophobia, and gun violence

Once again, we are confronted with the worst of humanity: white supremacists killing people while they gathered for worship. This time in Christchurch, New Zealand. May we pray for the victims, for peace and reconciliation, and to turn hearts of hatred to see the humanity in all people. May we all renew our efforts to overcome hatred, to build a world and nations where all residents can flourish and differences in religion, race or ethnic background, sexual orientation are seen as strengths to be celebrated, not differences to be destroyed.

Some Prayers:

Almighty God, who created us in your image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP, 260)

A Prayer for the Whole Human Family.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, 815)

A Prayer for Social Justice.

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart [and especially the hearts of the people of this land], that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, 823)

Prayer for Victims of Terrorism

Loving God, Welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism. Comfort their families and all who grieve for them. Help us in our fear and uncertainty, And bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love. Strengthen all those who work for peace, And may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts. Amen.

A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

What then should we do? A Sermon for Advent 3, Year C

 

I read the story this week of an Iranian-American woman. She was riding home on the bus after work one day in Chicago when a white man dressed in a suit and tie began to attack her verbally, shouting anti-Islamic names at her. After several minutes during which she quietly tried to get him to stop, he spit at her, told her to get off the bus, leave the country because it wasn’t hers. All this time, on a crowded bus, no one said anything. Finally, she’d had enough. She shouted at him at the top of her lungs. It was then that others intervened and the bus driver stopped and forced her attacker to leave. Continue reading

More incidents of Islamophobia

From TNI, in addition to those I’ve already mentioned, the following:

ONTARIO, California. Worshippers said two women threw the three legs onto the driveway of the proposed Al-Nur Islamic Center in Ontario shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday and sped away in a white pickup.

NORTH SMITHFIELD, Rhode Island. Muslims from a North Smithfield mosque are asking for extra protection after a sign outside their place of worship was vandalized over the weekend. North Smithfield police confirmed they are studying surveillance video recorded around 3:30 a.m. Sunday. That’s when a person was seen driving into the mosque’s parking lot and smashing the sign with a hammer.

MORTON GROVE, Illinois. The shots were heard by worshipers who were outside the mosque and were powerful enough to damage the building’s brick wall.

LOMBARD, Illinois. The prepertrators hurled a 7-Up bottled filled with acid at the school during Ramadan prayers.

OKLAHOMACITY, Oklahoma. Authorities are investigating after vandals fired paintballs at an Oklahoma City mosque. ‘A car pulled here in front of the main entrance and started shooting paintball guns, but at the time, I didn’t know it was that. I thought it was bullets they were shooting into the building.’

More on the Illinois incidents here. The Lombard incident took place in the congressional district of Joe Walsh who proclaimed last week that militant Islam was taking over the suburbs.

Combatting the Evil of Islamophobia

We don’t yet know a motive for the shootings at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek but the perpetrator’s links to white supremacist groups are becoming clear.

A day later, a mosque in Joplin, MO burned to the ground. Authorities have labeled that fire “suspicious” and it had already been targeted by two arson attacks (most recently on July 4). Glenn Greenwald writes about islamophobia in the US providing a catalog of recent attacks on American Muslims. He adds:

All of this reveals a broader truth: Islamophobia in the United States is pervasive and intense, and worse, is as ignored and tolerated as it is destructive. The greatest harm from these incidents is not to the property they damage. It’s the climate of fear that is created for Muslims living in the United States. As I’ve written about before, it’s hard to put into words how palpable and paralyzing this fear is in American Muslim communities. It’s infuriating to behold: perfectly law-abiding citizens and legal residents feeling — rationally and accurately — that they are subjected to constant surveillance, monitoring, suspicion, denial of basic rights, hostility and worse solely because of their religion and ethnicity.

This happens because overt expression of Islamophobia is, far and away, the most accepted form of bigotry in mainstream American precincts. Now and then, certain expressions of it are so extreme as to embarrass mainstream circles — Peter King’s Congressional investigation into The Enemy Within or the Michele Bachmann attacks on Hillary Clinton’s Muslim aide — and are thus roundly condemend, but more often than not, they are perfectly acceptable.

On Salon (where Greenwald writes) there are also articles about anti-Muslim bigotry in the Republican Party (Rep Joe Walsh of Illinois claims “Muslims are trying to kill Americans”) and a piece about Muslim leaders urging Mitt Romney to denounce Michele Bachman’s witch hunt.

I’ve been following the story about the efforts of a group to open a mosque in Murfreesboro, TN. It’s dragged on for years with arson and local groups trying to stop it, and politicians fanning the flames of hate. In the end, only the Department of Justice and the courts ensured the right of freedom of religion would prevail. More here on the anti-Muslim efforts in Murfreesboro. The community will gather there for the first time today for Friday prayers.

In spite of the prevalence of Islamophobia, there are also those who take stands against it. Greenwald highlights online efforts to raise money to replace the mosque in Joplin. In just a couple of days, they reached the goal of $250,000. In Missouri, Ashley Carter, student at nearby Ozark Christian College, has organized a rally in support of the Muslim community for Saturday, August 25.

When the media and our political culture fail to challenge purveyors of hate whether they are in the fringe or elected officials, it’s up to us to take the kind of stand that Ashley Carter has taken.

More links on Islam and Islamophobia

The cousin of the Ft. Hood shooter has started an anti-terrorism foundation.

Andrew Sullivan points to this chart from a Brookings Institution study of American values after 9-11:

What it means: If a Christian (say Anders Breivik) commits an act of terrorism, only 13% of Christian Americans identify him as Christian. If a Muslim commits an act of terrorism, 44% of Muslims identify him or her as Muslim. In other words, Americans operate with a double-standard, refusing to accept that Christians can do despicable things (“they’re not really Christian”). But of course our faith proclaims that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness.

Patheos identifies the top ten (+1) Islamophobes.

On the other hand, Eric Trager reports on the high percentage of Arabs who don’t believe Al-Qaeda or Arabs perpetrated the 9-11 attacks.

Islamophobia

The full report can be found through links here. But the summary itself is chilling.

The report’s authors write:

This report shines a light on the Islamophobia network of so-called experts, academics, institutions, grassroots organizations, media outlets, and donors who manufacture, produce, distribute, and mainstream an irrational fear of Islam and Muslims. Let us learn the proper lesson from the past, and rise above fear-mongering to public awareness, acceptance, and respect for our fellow Americans. In doing so, let us prevent hatred from infecting and endangering our country again.

The defend their use of the term Islamophobia in this way:

We define it as an exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political, and civic life.

They conclude:

It is our view that in order to safeguard our national security and uphold America’s core values, we must return to a fact-based civil discourse regarding the challenges we face as a nation and world. This discourse must be frank and honest, but also consistent with American values of religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and respect for pluralism.

Well put!

Other perspectives at Religion Dispatches.