Act of Solidarity with Sikh and Muslim Neighbors Near Sites of Recent Violence and Arson
In light of the recent acts of violence and vandalism against religions minorities across the country, Sojourners is calling on Christians to stand up against the hatred. Starting today, a billboard and newspaper ad will appear in Joplin, Mo., home to a mosque that burned to the ground earlier this month after suffering two previous acts of arson. Both the ad and the billboard read simply, “Love Your Muslim Neighbors.” The billboard is five blocks from the mosque on the corner of W 7th Street & S Schifferdecker Street.; the newspaper ad ran today in The Joplin Globe on Page A6. The second billboard has been erected three blocks from the gurudwara that was the recent target of a shooting that left six worshippers dead. The billboard reads, “Love Your Sikh Neighbors,” and sits on the corner of College Avenue and 13th Street in Oak Creek (to see a picture of the billboards and the ad, click HERE).
Lisa Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing for Sojourners, who recently joined with the Muslim community in fasting during Ramadan noted, “These attacks all come from fear. People fear what they don’t know or don’t understand.” She added, ““These ads are encouragement for Christians to act out of love and not fear towards those of different religions.”
Geoff Tunnicliffe, CEO and Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, says, “Let there be no doubt: as Christians, we want to live in peace with Muslims, Sikhs and with all men and women in this world. This is intrinsic to our religion and is essential to Jesus’ teachings.” Tunnicliffe hopes that these billboards send a strong message to those of other faiths, as well, adding, “We want these billboards to communicate solidarity against violence and the desire to live peacefully with one another, regardless of faith tradition.”
In Milwaukee, Wis., Rev. Steve Jerbi of All Peoples Church has been actively involved responding to the shooting at the gurudwara. “It is amazing that loving our neighbor is such a radical statement. The walls of division, fear, and sometimes just not even knowing our neighbors is too often our reality. This campaign reminds us, after tragedy and in everyday life, that we are called to love our neighbors. This is a change for Christians to continue to express not just our sympathy, but our love for sisters and brothers in the Sikh community.”
Rev. Jill Cameron Michel of South Joplin Christian Church has worked with other clergy in the area to support the Islamic community after the loss of their building by hosting an Iftar dinner with four other churches in the area, as well as planning future outreach focusing on education Christians about Islam.” Jesus went to where people were hurting. He crossed boundaries of culture, race, and religion, and he acted in love even when it was difficult. Jesus echoed the words of Judaism by reminding us that faith comes down to loving God and loving your neighbor, two inseparable parts of the whole. Offering comfort, support, and hope, recognizing the humanity not only of those who believe as I do, but of all — these are acts of love, and are central to my faith.”