|C. Coimbra photo|
The following excerpts are from the Islamophobia Guidebook from the nonprofit, Charter for Compassion.
Freedom of religion means the ability to practice one’s faith by choice openly or privately and to be free of intimidation or violence. Religions designate a holy space for the purpose of allegiance to the great mysteries or something greater than the human self. Whether it is a church, Mosque, Synagogue, Fellowship Hall, Temple, Shrine, Satsang, Native American Sweat Lodge or Longhouse or Kirtan, that space is holy and should be accorded the respect and reverence accorded a holy place.
Speak up. When someone lumps together all “Muslims” or whatever “evil group du jour” is the contemporary target, and labels and disparages them, your own group can just as easily become a target for no rational reason. Groups represent a diverse population and no one person or one behavior represents the whole of a group. One black person does not speak for all black people. One badly behaving Asian does not represent all Asians. One white person does not speak for the whole race. There are different kinds of Catholics and different brands of Protestants. No one religion is embraced by all people in a group. Not all tenets are embraced by all in that religion. Diversity is as common to faiths as it is to humans.
When someone slams another group or religion, that is an insult to something holy and should not be tolerated. It is important to be vocal about conversation that is offensive. Say you are offended and say why. When something is publicly offensive or comes from a place of authority, question it in a letter to the editor. Hold a meeting to discuss this with your congregation or group.
“Faith” is precisely that—something that is embraced in theory or adopted without proof. The great mysteries and religions are man’s way of explaining that which he doesn’t understand. Religion is a hypothesis, and act of faith. How do you prove God—by whatever name? It’s based on belief and faith and interpretation of scriptures considered holy. No belief or faith or person or group has the one superior or correct answer. Most deities are generous enough to embrace all peoples, even those considered “fringe.”
Killing in the name of religion or of a god is just morally wrong and is not sanctioned by a god in any form. The taking of a life is the taking of something holy. Followers of a faith are governed by guiding principles; every major faith, at their esoteric core, incorporates the golden rule in some form. “Treat others as you would like to be treated” is a common thread. Respect for self, others, life and land and all things holy, runs through most scriptures and is a guiding principle no matter the window-dressing.