A Statement on Interfaith Day

 In Synod News



We, as leaders in the faith community, stand together with our neighbors of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds in South Dakota.

Each of our religious traditions teaches that human beings should have the opportunity and have the obligation to build communities in which peace and mutual respect are core expressions of an ethical life. Our faiths and our American traditions teach us that we must stand up for the rights and freedoms of all members of the communities in which we live, including people of faith backgrounds different from our own. This vision of just treatment for all human beings is born of our religious faith. We believe that this is entirely consistent with our shared American value that religious freedom is guaranteed to people of all faiths and of no faith.

In sharp contrast to this vision, we have recently witnessed a rise in activities that degrade other religions and denies the religious freedom of many, especially Muslims and Jews. There has been an increase in hate speech, crimes and bullying directed against Muslims and Jews; growing opposition to the building or expansion of mosques and synagogues; and a troubling wave of state legislative initiatives across America, and in South Dakota, aimed at discriminating against Muslims and others. Recent proposals to establish a registry based on religion are reminiscent of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. We are people of different faiths across South Dakota who, in keeping with this state’s and country’s traditions and values, are committed to ending anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic sentiment in our state and in our country. Together we stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds in South Dakota and across this great nation. We invite all people of conscience to join us in these actions:

  • REFLECT on what will heal divisions in our communities;
  • PARTNER across faith lines to know one another better and address issues of common concern, such as affirming and promoting religious freedom;
  • TELL the positive stories of these multi-faith partnerships publicly in order to report this reality to the media and shape public dialogue; and,
  • DENOUNCE hatred, bigotry, violence and the use of misinformation against all people wherever we see it in word or in action.

Only by taking a stand together can we fulfill the highest callings of our respective faiths and our country while building a South Dakota and an America that is safer and stronger because of our religious and ethnic diversity.

Called upon by:

Bishop David B. Zellmer
South Dakota Synod, ELCABetty Oldenkamp
CEO, Lutheran Social Services

Bishop Bruce R. Ough
United Methodist Church

Taneeza Islam
South Dakota Voices for Peace

The Benedictine Sisters of
Sacred Heart Monastery – Yankton

Mohammad Qamar, MD
Director, Interfaith Dialogue
Muslim Community Center of South Dakota

Senator Stan Adelstein
Former State SenatorBishop John T. Tarrant
Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota

Rev. Emily Munger
First Congregational UCC, Pierre, SD

Sisters of the Presentation
of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mohamed Sharif
Director and Co-Founder
Islamic Center of Sioux Falls

*Adapted from the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign Pledge
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