Target: Ed Bacon, Reverend of All Saints Church in Pasadena, California
Goal: Applaud church for promoting interfaith communication by hosting a Muslim conference
The All Saints Christian Church in Pasadena, California recently agreed to host the annual conference of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). At the meeting, the group plans to discuss issues in the American Muslim community, and the leaders hope that members of other religions will also be in attendance in order to facilitate interfaith dialogue and decrease tensions between the Muslim community and other religions. In response to its decision to allow the group to hold the meeting, the church has been receiving hateful letters from members of the community, but the church has continued to support the MPAC.
The hate mail that was sent to All Saints Church was likely prompted by an article written by a member of a conservative religious group claiming that the MPAC has made anti-Semitic statements and that it has connections to violent fundamentalist Muslim organizations. Both the MPAC and All Saints Church deny these claims, and state that the purpose of using the church as a location for the meeting is to bring the religions together and promote understanding between the groups.
The church has previously received criticism from other Christian groups for its progressive interfaith programs and its acceptance of members of the LGBT community, but the reverend has stated that the hate mail the church has been receiving regarding the MPAC has been more hateful than in the past. Some letters accused the church of associating with “the enemy” and claimed that Muslims are putting Americans in danger, while others went as far as accusing the church of terrorism for its support of the Muslim organization.
These hateful letters illuminate the problem of Islamophobia that persists in many parts of the United States, and the attention that the hate mail has brought to the event might encourage more members of the community to attend the meeting, allowing an interfaith discussion of the problem of intolerance between religions. The church should be commended for refusing to allow harassment from the community to change the decision to host the meeting, and for its continued support of interfaith dialogue.
Dear Reverend Bacon,
I would like to thank you for promoting interfaith communication and decreasing anti-Muslim sentiments in the Christian community by agreeing to host the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s annual conference. You have continued to be supportive of the group despite the hateful Islamophobic letters that you have been receiving.
Even though both the church and the MPAC itself have insisted that the group has no connection to radical violent organizations, members of other religious organizations and members of the community continue to offensively link the MPAC with terrorist groups. It is my hope that other religious leaders will follow your lead in promoting interfaith dialogue between religious groups in order to reduce tensions and ultimately decrease violence between them.
You and your church should be commended for defending the MPAC and allowing the organization to hold the conference at your church, and for encouraging interfaith communication and challenging anti-Muslim bigotry.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Viktor Nagornyy via Flickr.