All people, no matter where we live or who we are, deserve to feel safe and welcomed in our communities. But all too often, the lives of our friends and neighbors are forever changed by hate-based violence.
Hate and Violence Impact Whole Communities
This week, we were reminded of how violence and threats of violence impact whole communities, not just those targeted. On Sunday, April 3, an elderly Sikh man was assaulted while walking in Queens, New York City. This incident comes ahead of the anniversary 2021 FedEx ground facility shooting in Indianapolis, Indiana, in which eight individuals were killed, including four members of the local Sikh community.
And, just this past Friday, a security guard at a Jewish day school in Columbus, Ohio was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats after posting photos on social media threatening violence against the school and community.
While the shooting in Indianapolis was not officially designated as a hate crime, there is no denying that all three of these events created feelings of fear and insecurity among those targeted, their loved ones, and the larger group they represent. These incidents occur in an environment where hate groups are becoming more vocal, visible, and violent; hate groups that are emboldened by politicians who are flippant with the horrific consequences of bigotry.
Religious Communities Can Lead in Combating Hate
Now more than ever, we must join together to support communities targeted by perpetrators of violence by building coalitions to support one another when such incidents occur. Religious leaders and people of faith are uniquely positioned to strengthen ties and push back against hateful rhetoric by providing an alternative message of love, inclusion, and mutual respect. That is why Interfaith Alliance launched “Partnering Against Hate,” a grassroots toolkit designed to help guide groups and individuals who want to do more to make their communities safer and more inclusive.
Faith communities can and must take an active role in making their communities safer. By partnering against hate, religious leaders and people of faith can send the message that hate speech and hateful violence will never be tolerated or left unchallenged. And, that even in cases when hate or bias is not recognized by law enforcement, we can still join together to support those who feel the trauma of its impact.
Learn more about Interfaith Alliance’s efforts to combat hate and discrimination.