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UUSC, UUA Declare Support for Lower Manhattan Mosque
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
On Monday, August 9, UUSC and the UUA sent a joint letter to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressing strong support for the Cordoba Center, an Islamic mosque and community center proposed for Lower Manhattan. Read the full text below and raise your voice for religious tolerance by sending your own letter of support. Then take further action by cultivating understanding in your own community with our Building Bridges Tool Kit.
August 9, 2010
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New York, NY 10007
Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
As leaders of a religious movement with a significant presence in New York City and nationally, we are writing to express our strong support for the planned mosque and Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan. The unanimous vote of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and your own endorsement reaffirm values of religious tolerance and the promotion of interreligious understanding.
We commend you for resisting the shortsighted arguments of the Anti-Defamation League and various political ideologues, such as former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Leaders of both major political parties have made it abundantly clear that the tragic attacks of Sept. 11 in no way reflect mainstream Islamic values — values that are embodied in the proposed center.
The shortsightedness of the center's critics is especially evident when one considers that, over the long run, the voices of moderate Islam hold the key to defeating extremism. These are the voices that represent the overwhelming majority of those within Islam, including the millions of Muslim American citizens, who disavow and repudiate violence. Accordingly, the mosque and community center near Ground Zero should be welcomed as an important effort by moderate Muslims to reach out to interfaith communities in New York and beyond. To demonize them is at odds with the geopolitical interest of the United States and our cherished — and constitutionally protected — tradition of religious freedom.
Because it is a noncreedal faith tradition, Unitarian Universalism has always been at the forefront of promoting intercultural understanding. This work assumed special significance after the Sept. 11 attacks. Unitarian Universalists have also worked to help defend Muslim Americans against some of the worst consequences of the erosion of civil liberties resulting from post–Sept. 11 security policies.
Over the past two years, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee has joined with Unitarian Universalist congregations to conduct a series of workshops with Muslims in major U.S. cities in efforts to further promote interreligious understanding. The Lower Manhattan mosque and community center would represent a major endorsement of interfaith understanding and a symbol of support for the peaceful teachings of Islam.
We look forward to the successful completion of this project and to supporting further your efforts to heal the wounds — physical, emotional, and spiritual — inflicted upon New York and the nation nearly nine years ago.
Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association
Rev. William F. Schulz, Interim President, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Rev. Galen Guengerich, Senior Minister, All Souls Unitarian Church, New York City
Rev. Anthony Johnson, Affiliate Minister, Community Church of New York,
Rev. Susan Karlson, Unitarian Church of Staten Island
Rev. Ian White Maher, Minister, UU Congregation of Queens, Flushing, N.Y.
Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, Senior Minister, Fourth Universalist Society, New York City
Rev. Patrick O'Neill, First Unitarian Congregational Society, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Rev. Bruce Southworth, Senior Minister, Community Church of New York,
CC: Robert Tierney, Chair, Landmarks Preservation Commission, New York City
Robert G. Sugarman, Abraham H. Foxman, Anti-Defamation League, New York City
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder and CEO, American Society for Muslim Advancement