Shoulder to Shoulder Letter to House and Senate Members Regarding Divisive Rhetoric Against American Muslims
April 29, 2016
Dear Members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives,
Shoulder to Shoulder is a campaign of 32 national faith denominations and organizations that came together in 2010 to make a united religious stand against anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States. Today, we write to ask you to uphold our national tradition of religious freedom by standing against anti-Muslim bigotry. As Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims, we know all too well that discrimination against one faith community impacts all faiths and erodes the American ideal of religious liberty.
The cherished freedom to practice one’s chosen religion predates our Declaration of Independence. Discrimination and bigotry against certain Christian denominations in the early days of America’s national formation helped others see the need for the Constitution’s First Amendment, which reads in part, ”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The Colonies’ early experiments with religious freedom and the writings of the Founding Fathers (and likely some Founding Mothers) helped birth the United States of America with a keen sense of guaranteeing freedom of religious expression, and of living out values of compassion and hospitality. That guarantee is at risk in the current political climate.
Shoulder to Shoulder urges members of Congress to speak out against derogatory rhetoric and discriminatory legislation that targets members of the American Muslim community. Divisive rhetoric against religious minorities is antithetical to our tradition of free exercise and our earnest historical attempts to enshrine the United States as a place where one’s faith doesn’t determine one’s worth. We join a growing chorus of voices, religious and secular, past and present, who call for an end to inflammatory speech against honest, hardworking American Muslims. They are our neighbors, friends, co-workers, doctors, elected officials, teachers, and our police and armed forces. They are us, and as Americans, we are intimately bound to each other under the promise of “E pluribus, unum.”
Our nation, and the individuals and communities that compose it, is most strong and secure when all its members are valued as equal citizens. As diverse religious groups, we know this to be true, and we ask that you – our elected officials – prove your commitment to this truth as well.
Reverend Ron Stief
Chair, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign
Director, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign
View the full letter here.