Church State Council Condemns Religious Violence and Intolerance in Wisconsin
Church State Council Condemns Religious Violence and
Intolerance in Wisconsin
As Christians and Americans, we are shocked and outraged at the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and the senseless slaughter of innocent Americans gathered to worship. We offer our condolences and our prayers for the families and friends of those who were slain.
The United States is a place of diverse cultures and religions. All are welcome, all are equally American. The Sikh people are our friends, our neighbors, and our fellow Americans. We want to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Sikh American community, and to urge all Americans to overcome this evil with the compassion, generosity, hospitality and friendship which represents the best of the American spirit.
There is no place for intolerance in our nation, no place for religious bigotry. In America, there is no “us” and “them.” For Americans come from everywhere, and belong to every religion. We cherish the freedom to have our own beliefs, just as we defend one another’s right to believe differently.
We urge Americans to let this tragedy be a catalyst to learn about the Sikh people, about their history, their religion, and their character, and to welcome Sikhs throughout our communities. Sikhs have often been mistaken for Muslims, and subjected to violence intended for Muslims. We condemn religious bigotry and intolerance no matter who is the object.
We also condemn the desecration of a house of worship. A temple is a place where people go to find hope and peace, tranquility and security God and community. Now this Wisconsin temple has been transformed into a place of violence, of fear and anxiety, and yes, terror.
We cannot see this as an evil perpetrated by one American. It is the inevitable result of a disease which our nation largely ignores – the disease of racial and religious stereotyping that stokes the fires of simmering hatred until they flame up into overt acts of violence. This evil is in our midst, and when we remain silent, we passively condone it. Americans must be much more proactively engaged in eradicating the disease of religious bigotry, or it will continue to take innocent lives.
Finally, we invite Americans of all faiths to mourn with those who are mourning, and to provide whatever support is needed by the families of those who were killed. Let our prayers be mingled with tears, as we seek to bless those who continue to suffer the lingering results of the tragic loss of innocent life.
The Church State Council is the religious freedom educational and advocacy organization of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, serving a five state western region.