For though my faith is not yours and your faith is not mine, if we are each free to light our own flame, together we can banish some of the darkness of the world. (Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. December 6, 2015 on the eve of Hannukah)

Joining with Presbyterians and people of good will across this country the leaders of Saint Mark Presbyterian Church condemn the appalling anti-Islam rhetoric being spread in this country, Europe and elsewhere. Labeling Muslims as fanatics is the same as associating all Christians with the white separatism of groups like the Ku Klux Klan. It is not the time now, or ever, for people of faith to attack one another.  This is a time in history when reasonable people of faith must to come together in opposition to fanatics within our traditions—whether they be Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim or any other expression of religious fanaticism. As it says in I Peter 2:15 “It is God’s will that by doing right, you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. As servants of God, live as free people yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil.”

We remember the tragic Salem witch-hunts perpetrated by Protestant fanatics in this country.  We remember the Calvinist Huguenots who, because of their theology, were persecuted and banished from France by the Roman Catholic Church. We recall that the Spanish Roman Catholic Church killed many who inhabited the Americas who refused to convert to Catholicism, and whose leaders in Spain banished Jews from the country and isolated Muslims in a so-called re-conquest of the country. The history of religious intolerance is long and bloody. Furthermore, the language being used and the practices suggested are similar to those that preceded the holocaust leading to the killing of six million Jews. Unfortunately, this list of abuses could go on much longer.

We cannot be silent as if these matters were not serious violations of the common good upheld by the core values of our country.

Therefore, today we condemn Christian leaders, and all politicians, who urge their followers to arm themselves in preparation for a war against Islam. We condemn all efforts to persecute Muslims and banish them from our country. We also condemn efforts by any religious leaders and politicians who urge their followers to arm themselves in preparation for war against other religious traditions.

During this Advent season of hoping and waiting, we hope for the day when God’s reign of peace with justice will fill the whole earth. Until then we continue to seek peace and justice for all people.