Kansas City, MO (January 27, 2017) We, the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, begin all our meetings with words that include the following: “We gather to accomplish this work of service, honor the sacred in each of us, and deepen our relations…” As an organization committed to this with our thoughts, words and deeds, we find ourselves disheartened by news reports that point to the idea of creating a registry of Muslims in the United States.
Profiling people on the basis of religion will not keep us safe, nor does it demonstrate what we value most: respecting and honoring the sacred in everyone. It will set a dangerous precedent, placing the nation on a path toward eroding civil rights and universal human rights. Such a registry would seem more like a reaction to fear than a solution to the threats that created the fear. As a Council, we cannot come up with a single reason for how a nationwide registry of Muslims advances our organizational vision to create the most welcoming community for all people.
We will not support actions that discriminate against whole groups of people based on faith, life philosophy, race, national origin or ethnicity. American history is peppered with these types of victimizing events, always resulting in unjust and tragic consequences: internment of Japanese Americans in World War II, suppression of German-speaking Americans in World War I, persecution of Irish, Italian and Hispanic Catholic immigrants, and executions of so called witches in Salem, Massachusetts, to name a few. In Nazi Europe, identifying Jews with yellow Stars of David resulted in the murder of 6 million Jews and the defeat and repudiation of Hitlerism following the Holocaust. In Kansas City, and in America, we believe we can and must do better.
The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council mission statement reads, “We are growing a sustainable, pervasive culture of knowledge, respect, appreciation, and trust amongst people of all faiths and religious traditions in the Greater Kansas City community.” Therefore, we must always stand for civil liberties guaranteed by our constitution, and universal human rights for all.
At this extraordinary time in our nation’s history, we are called to affirm our profound commitment to developing deeper understanding of each other’s faiths and traditions, and to foster appropriate bilateral and multilateral interfaith dialogue and interaction.
In the face of threats to immigrants, religious minorities, people of color, the LGBTQIA community, and so many others, as well as the rise of hate speech and hate crimes, we affirm our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We hold fast to our unwavering resolve to model our spiritual and religious values of mutual respect and cooperation.
When we see any attempts to discriminate against whole groups of people based on faith, life philosophy, race, national origin or ethnicity, we remain steadfast in expanding awareness of the spiritual values of ANY faith tradition because it is these values that can help us resolve issues and challenges occurring in the environmental, social and personal realms of our lives.
We joyously celebrate the gifts of religious pluralism in our city because it is a celebration of the interconnectedness of all life. Whatever our individual faith traditions, we simply can’t imagine being separate. We can’t imagine our lives without each other. As people of conscience, we declare our commitment to translate our values into action as we stand on the side of love with the most vulnerable among us. We welcome and invite all to join in this commitment for justice. The time is now.
We ask leaders of all faiths and people of humane and compassionate conscience to sign this statement as a show of support, and stand with us for the sake of all.
Rev. Kelly Isola
Chair, Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council