Denouncing Hate That Targets Religion

SF Bay Area Faith Leaders Denounce Incidents of Hate Targeting Religion
December 1, 2016

News of a hateful letter received by the Evergreen Islamic Center in San Jose and at least five other mosques is the most recent of an increasing number of incidents targeting people of different religions across the country.

As religious leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area, we cherish the rich diversity of religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions that comprise the mosaic that is America. Our diversity is a resource rather than a barrier to the democratic nation that we seek to be. Incidents of hate, such as this, seek to dehumanize “the other” and contradict the most basic principles common to our age-old faith teachings and those religious liberties enshrined in the American Constitution.

The rise of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in our country, catalyzed in part by the divisive rhetoric of the current political climate, is of great concern to all who seek cohesive and peaceful communities. When any one religion comes under attack, all religions come under attack. Therefore, we unite in condemning such acts. We stand together to denounce this and all acts that seek to marginalize and target entire faith communities.

G.L. Hodge, Chair, San Francisco Interfaith Council
Rita R. Semel, Past Chair, San Francisco Interfaith Council
Michael G. Pappas, Executive Director, San Francisco Interfaith Council

Imam Abu Qadir Al-Amin, Resident Imam, SF Muslim Community Center
The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, The Episcopal Diocese of California
Rev. Fr. Mesrop Ash, Parish Priest, St. John Armenian Church
Fatih Ferdi Ates, Director, Pacifica Institute
The Rev. Sally Bingham, Canon for the Environment, The Episcopal Diocese of California
Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, Pastor, Third Baptist Church & President, SF Branch-NAACP
Rev. Angela Brown, JD, Associate Pastor, GLIDE
Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr., Interim Senior Pastor, GLIDE
Rev. John Buehrens, Senior Minister, First Unitarian Universalist Society of SF Ken Chambers, Executive Director, Interfaith Council of Alameda County
Most Reverend Salvatore Cordileone, Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco
Linda L. Crawford, Executive Director, Interfaith Center at the Presidio
Sister Chandrika Desai, Director, Brahma Kumaris Meditation Center, SF
Pastor Elizabeth Ekdale, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church
Maha Elgenaidi, Chief Executive Officer, Islamic Networks Group (ING)
Fred Fielding, Board President, Interfaith Center at the Presidio
Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., President, University of San Francisco
His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco
Rabbi Marvin Goodman, Executive Director, No. California Board of Rabbis
Julie Greenfield, Facilitator, Eden Area Interfaith Council
Iftekhar Hai, President, United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance
Sari Heidenreich, Regional Coordinator, URI North America
David Hoffman, Chair, Interfaith Council of Sonoma County
Rev. Mark W. Holmerud, Bishop, Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA
Rev. Theon Johnson, III, Associate Pastor, GLIDE
Auxiliary Bishop William J. Justice, Archdiocese of San Francisco
The Rev. Victor Kazanjian, Jr., Executive Director, United Religions Initiative
Rev. D. Andrew Kille, Chair, Silicon Valley Interreligious Council
Rev. Ronald Kobata, Resident Minister, Buddhist Church of San Francisco
Rev. Deborah Lee, United Church of Christ, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity
Dr. James McCray, Jr., Tabernacle Community Development Corp.
Rev. Will McGarvey, Executive Director, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
Abby Porth, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council
Rev. Scott Quinn, Acting Director, Marin Interfaith Council
Rabbi Larry Raphael, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Sherith Israel
Rev. Schuyler Rhodes, Superintendent, Bridges District, CA-NV Conference-UMC
Moina Shaiq, President, Tri City Interfaith Council
Rita Shimmin, Executive Director, GLIDE
Rabbi Jonathan Singer, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Emanu-El
Rev. John Weems, Pastor & Head of Staff, Calvary Presbyterian Church
The Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young, Dean, Grace Cathedral
Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Sherith Israel

For additional information, please contact Michael G. Pappas at (415) 425-9631.

On Bomb Threats at Bay Area Jewish Schools

The Silicon Valley Interreligious Council joins with other interfaith councils around the Bay Area in condemning the bomb threats that were directed at two Bay Area Jewish schools– one in Marin County and the other in San Mateo- that were part of a nation-wide series of threats that included school across the country.
     Fortunately, the robo-call threats proved to be a hoax, but we want to make it clear that we stand together with our Jewish brothers and sisters and that any attack on any religious community in our midst is unacceptable.
     On January 19th, SiVIC sponsored a Forum on Religious Liberty, highlighting the importance of religious freedom not only for religious practice, but for the health of a democracy and the strength of our economy. We noted that it is vital that we all be ready to defend religious freedom not only for ourselves and our own traditions, but for each other. This is the promise and the possibility of the American vision.

The San Francisco Interfaith Council released this message:
 January 18, 2017, San Francisco — The San Francisco  Interfaith Council was deeply disturbed and saddened to learn today that our Bay Area Jewish community is the latest Jewish community around the nation to receive bomb threats.  This appears to be part of a rash of bomb threats made against 28 Jewish community centers and other Jewish organizations in 17 states in recent days.  On Wednesday morning, the Jewish Community Center of Marin and the Wornick Jewish Day School, both institutions that receive and educate hundreds of young children every day, were evacuated after receiving bomb threats.  “We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters, and will not allow them to feel intimidated or isolated.  We are here to lend moral support, and to let the Jewish community know it is far from alone; it is an important and valued component of our multi-faith and multi-cultural society,” said Michael Pappas, Executive Director, of the San Francisco Interfaith Council.
The San Francisco Interfaith Council represents 800 congregations in the City and County of San Francisco, their respective judicatories, sectarian educational and healthcare institutions, and faith-based social service agencies.  Chair of the Board, G.L. Hodge, stated “Two days ago, we gathered thousands of people of faith and conscience from around the Bay Area in a march and interfaith service to commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.  The outpouring of mutual interfaith support stands in sharp contrast to these cowardly acts of intimidation against the Jewish community and the division they seek to sow.  In the spirit of all Dr. King stood for and taught us, we come together to support one another, and will support the Jewish community.”

Los Gatos JCC receives bomb threat

It’s happened yet again. The Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center in Los Gatos was evacuated due to a bomb threat. [See story here.]

Last week, the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto was evacuated after receiving a similar threat. Across the county, more than 73 such centers have received similar threats. Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia have been desecrated. Mosques, including the Evergreen Islamic Center, have received threats and individual Muslims have been harassed. A man yelling “get out of my country” shot two Indian men in Kansas, killing one and wounding the other.

Incidents of harassment against immigrants and suspected immigrants are on the rise. I believe it is only a handful of people who are acting out, but their actions affect many of our friends and neighbors, not just Jews or Muslims, Sikhs or Hindus.

Some misguided people in our midst seem to believe that since the election the rules of civility have changed, and that it is now somehow acceptable to lash out against our brothers and sisters. They are sadly mistaken. This is not our way; this behavior is not acceptable in our nation.

An attack on anyone because of their religion or race is an attack on us all, and together we will rise to defend all the diverse religions and cultures that together make up our Silicon Valley community.

It’s time for the Justice Department to get serious about investigating these incidents, and arresting and prosecuting those responsible.

And as for the rest of us- visit your local JCC. They sponsor events and classes open to the whole community. Bring a friend. Join. Donate. Reach out.


Rev. D. Andrew Kille
Chair, SiVIC

Responding to Charlottesville

From its formation, the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council has devoted itself to building interreligious understanding and harmony in order to seek a more just and compassionate society in Silicon Valley.

We, as people seeking compassion and reconciliation, are grieved and stunned by the activities over this past weekend by those who value neither. We lament the loss of life and disruption of the community. We of diverse faiths stand together unified against Hate. We grieve the murder of Heather Heyer who was standing up for our values. We will not stand idly by, as all our faiths compel us to raise our voices clearly against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia of any kind.

We commit ourselves anew to the task of bringing all people together for the good of the whole community. Hate is not welcome here.

For statements from other Bay Area Interfaith Councils, see the Interfaith Center at the Presidio website.