Bishop of San Jose responds to attack in Egypt

In November, Islamist militants exploded a bomb at a Sufi mosque in Egypt, killing over 300 people, including women and children. In response to that attack, Bishop Patrick J. McGrath of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose wrote to the community:

Office of the Bishop
December 1,2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
With this letter, I wish to add my voice and the voice of the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of San Jose in an expression of deepest sorrow over the brutal act of violence directed at our Sufi brothers and sisters in Egypt.

We live in a time of brutality and undeniable disregard for human life, yet it is in times such as this that the measure of our faith is tried and tested. Although I am not unfamiliar with violence and its deep effect on the families of its victims, I cannot even imagine the anguish you are experiencing. At the same time, over the years my faith has helped me recognize the true power that comes to life when we are able to respond to hate with love and compassion.

The words of the poet, Rumi, came to mind, and have echoed in my heart for the past few days:

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place. 

It is my prayer that we may stand in solidarity with the Sufi community to express our sorrow and acknowledge their – and our – pain. Be assured of my own renewed commitment to end intolerance. Be also assured that I will ask my priests to offer prayers for the Sufi community and for all religious minorities in Egypt so that through acts of solidarity and love, the Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Sufi communities might work together to end intolerance and violence, both here and abroad.

With every best wish and kind regard, I remain,
Sincerely yours,
Patrick J. McGrath
Bishop of San Jose

See original letter: McGrath letter re: Sufis

SiVIC Newsletter- September 2017

Silicon Valley Interreligious CouncilThe newsletter for September 2017 includes 11 Days of Global Unity, the 2017 SiVIC Assembly and Forum, International Day of Peace, Meet a Muslim, Walk to Feed the Hungry, and our Multifaith calendar of religious observances and listing of interfaith opportunities.

See the September issue here.

Subscribe to the newsletter.

SiVIC Newsletter- July 2017

Silicon Valley Interreligious CouncilThe newsletter for July 2017 includes the upcoming SiVIC Forum on “I Am the Other: Countering Stereotypes, Religious Illiteracy, and Hate Speech,” an Interreligious Conference: Faith and Service at the Jain Center, a Dessert Gala for Yezidi Relief and our Multifaith calendar of religious observances and listing of interfaith opportunities.

See the July issue here.

Subscribe to the newsletter.

SiVIC Newsletter- June 2017

SiVIC Newsletter

The newsletter for June 2017 includes articles on the Unity Rally held on June 10, the upcoming SiVIC Forum on “I Am the Other: Countering Stereotypes, Religious Illiteracy, and Hate Speech,” and our Multifaith calendar of religious observances and listing of interfaith opportunities.

See the June issue here.

Subscribe to the newsletter.

Bay Area Joint Statement Against Hate

Residents of the San Francisco Bay Area benefit from both individuals and institutions whose faith motivates them to provide food to the hungry, shelter to the needy, inexpensive or free health care, and other humanitarian services.

Our history includes episodes of injustice and harmful conduct based on ethnicity, race, and nationality, but also a strong history of opposing bigotry and embracing all people of good conscience. We also value our history of embracing individuals’ right to practice the faith tradition of their choice.

While some isolated individuals in our community may sometimes hold events designed to foster hatred and fear, those involved in legally expressing their political opinions must enjoy the protection of our nation’s laws. However, we similarly exercise our speech rights to reject and marginalize hate speech and attempts to divide our communities.

Islamic societies, organizations, places of worship, and communities enrich and benefit the spiritual, moral and cultural life of our community. We find abhorrent all forms of discrimination, including those forms of discrimination targeting religion or belief. We oppose any expression of bigotry towards Muslims with the equal moral, legal and practical force that we oppose other forms of discrimination.

We find abhorrent all forms of discrimination, including those forms of discrimination targeting religion or belief. We oppose any expression of bigotry towards Muslims with the same full moral, legal and practical force that we oppose other forms of discrimination.

Silicon Valley Interreligious Council
Together with dozens of local religious and community groups

See Facebook for updates

An Interview with Girish Shah

The United Religions Initiative recently interviewed Girish Shah, founding member and Treasurer of SiVIC for a recent profile: “3 followers of Eastern Traditions engaged in interfaith work.”

Girish, a leader of the Jain Center of Northern California in Milpitas, explains how his tradition leads him into interfaith cooperation”

“The creed of Jainism is non-violence, not only in action, but in speech and thought,” Shah said. “Thought translates to speech, and speech translates to action. To stop the violent action, we need to start with our thoughts. ”

Girish Shah

Girish Shah

SiVIC is a Cooperating Circle of the United Religions Initiative, a global network of interfaith groups. Read the rest of the article, including Girish, Dr. Prem Kahlon (Sikh), and Dr. Ji Hyang Padma (Buddhist) on the URI website.

People of Faith Need to Share Wisdom

SiVIC joins other interfaith councils around the Bay Area in call for faithful work

Over a dozen leaders of interfaith councils, including SiVIC, issued a statement concerning what faith groups can uniquely offer to our shared community life in the Bay Area and beyond. The statement reads:

We as a society are in a tumultuous moment—not only politically but morally. Millions of people find the actions of the Administration, and of Congress also, deeply immoral, and they are taking to the streets to voice their discontent. People of faith, individually and as communities, are prominent among them.

But do people of faith have anything unique to bring to the struggles of the present moment? Can they do more than simply swell the multitudes protesting in the street or overwhelming Capitol telephone lines?

Yes, they can. In a moment where the latest executive order or the latest protest threatens to suck up all the world’s attention, people of faith have resources and wisdom that reach back millennia, and we need to bring them to bear on our current struggles. Here are some of them:

  • Religious and ethical resources bearing on today’s contentious questions: The questions roiling the public today touch directly on issues about which our various traditions have much to say. This rests on the wisdom of centuries and cannot be written off as manifestations of modern liberalism. People of faith have rich spiritual and ethical resources that speak to today’s debates, including traditions and teachings addressing peace, nonviolence, mutual respect, hospitality, charity, and pluralism; and these resources point to basic values shared by all major world religions and also by humanists and other non-religious people. In the current climate, where certain religions (primarily, of course, Islam and Judaism) are openly or implicitly demonized, it is vital to point out these shared values and to use them as a starting point for addressing the ethical issues entailed in today’s conflicts. The issue of the reception of refugees, for instance, touches directly on questions of hospitality and care for the vulnerable that virtually all religious and ethical traditions address.
  • Spiritual resources for selfcare: Dealing with deeply-felt political and moral issues can easily lead to burn-out or, worse yet, to self-righteousness and anger that trigger speech and action that violate the very values we are trying to inculcate. Here, too, our traditions have rich resources to offer, including approaches to prayer and meditation, sacred texts that profoundly and powerfully express the truths and values that should inform our grappling with current issues, and the examples of adherents past and present who have lived by the virtues that we wish to see emulated. People of faith and spirit need to avail themselves of these resources and encourage fellow activists to draw on them.
  • Hope: This could have been included under either of the two preceding points, but it so undergirds and completes everything we seek to say here that it deserves consideration on its own. Particularly when one is, politically speaking, the underdog, it’s easy to be overcome by frustration and even despair. But whether one believes in a beneficent deity or divine reality or simply in the potential of the human mind and spirit, our religious and ethical traditions offer assurance that evil does not have the final word—that, as Martin Luther King said, echoing words from a long tradition, “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice.” Our spiritual traditions empower us to see that long arc beyond any current defeats. The current moment requires people who can draw on those traditions to kindle hope as we tread a challenging path of resistance.

Merely having these resources is not enough. We need to be both media-savvy and organizationally savvy—media savvy to draw media attention to our presence and our message, and organizationally savvy to initiate prayerful and spiritual events that build awareness of our values and resources among a broader public and inject them into current debates. The current Administration appears to be listening to the voices of only one segment of our country’s broad spectrum of faiths and faith communities. We, who on the basis of our faith share the moral concerns of so many of our fellow citizens, need to raise our voices to ensure that the values we seek to live by are heard above the din.


  1. Rev. Ken Chambers, Interim Board President , Interfaith Council of Alameda County
  2. Linda L. Crawford, Executive Director, Interfaith Center at the Presidio
  3. Rev. Kristi Denham, Co-President, Peninsula Multifaith Coalition
  4. Maha Elgenaidi, Executive Director, Islamic Networks Group (ING)
  5. Fatih Ferdi Ates, Director, Pacifica Institute
  6. Diane Fisher, Director, Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley
  7. D. Andrew Kille, Chair, Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC)
  8. Will McGarvey, Executive Director, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
  9. Michael G. Pappas, M.Div, Executive Director, San Francisco Interfaith Council (SFIC)
  10. Steven A. Pinkston, Director of Christian Service, Bellarmine College Prep
  11. Scott Quinn, Acting Director, Marin Interfaith Council
  12. Rita R. Semel, Founder and past Chair, San Francisco Interfaith Council
  13. Moina Shaiq, President, Tri-City Interfaith Council
  14. Stephanie S. Spencer, President-elect, Eden Area Interfaith Council
  15. Jessica Trubowitch, Director, Public Policy and Community Building, Jewish Community Relations Council – San Francisco Bay Area
  16. Ardisanne Turner, Chair, United Religions Initiative North America

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