Unkind, unwise, unjust: letter against Congressional hearings on Islam

This letter has been sent to the editor of the Union Tribune:

Interfaith leaders met recently at the Islamic Center San Diego to stand against the congressional hearings underway, led by Rep. Peter King (R., NY), that focus on the Muslim community’s unwillingness to cooperate with law enforcement officials. Evidence was provided that thoroughly debunked that claim. We are writing today to speak against the hearings on religious grounds.

All of our faith traditions call us to be kind, wise and just. The hearings violate every one of those principles.

The hearings are unkind: A Muslim mother of four young girls told us after the press conference that she usually walks her children to school as it is only a matter of a few blocks. She refrains from doing that any time anti-Muslim rhetoric surfaces in the news because, dressed in traditional clothing, she is afraid to attract the attention of those who may be stirred up by current events. To put it simply, she feels unsafe in her own country on these occasions.

The hearings are unwise: The Muslim community could be tempted to withdraw from civic life when their rights and dignity are violated. That would lead to less cooperation, not more. Some of us recently participated in a more hopeful event sponsored by our government – a State Department program that brings dozens of teenagers from around the world to America that they might learn more about us and one another. An entire day was spent on the topic of religion as a force for good in the world, complete with visits to a mosque, synagogue and church. That strikes us as the more reasonable course.

The hearings are unjust: In America we investigate individuals for actions committed, not entire groups for beliefs held. Every time we violate that principle we add to our national litany of repentance. We therefore call on Rep. King to immediately curtail his misconceived investigation that our common bonds, developing now, might be made even stronger in the days to come.

Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Executive Director
The Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice

The Rev. Dr. Beth Johnson, Senior Pastor
Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

The Very Rev. Scott Richardson, Dean
Saint Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral

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