On Oct. 28, 2022, The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Capitol Police, and National Counterterrorism Center issued a bulletin ahead of this year’s midterm election warning law enforcement of potential violence. Religious minorities, politicians, and election workers are at increased risk, reminding us of the work still to be done to secure our democracy and keep ourselves and our neighbors safe.
Preparing for Potential Violence Against Religious Minorities and Houses of Worship
The period during and after the 2020 presidential election was marked by violence against houses of worship and the surrounding communities. In Dec. 2020, two Black churches in DC were vandalized by members of Proud Boys, a far-right white supremacist group. In Jan. 2021, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three congregants were taken hostage by an armed man demanding the release of a neuroscientist convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers. The hostages and the congregation had no connection to this scientist or her conviction, but the attacker believed in antisemitic conspiracy theory about Jewish political power and control that could be used to further his cause. And on Jan. 6, 2021, hundreds of people stormed the U.S. Capitol carrying symbols and espousing ideology that preach hate against minority communities.
Events like these impact whole communities, not just those targeted. When violence and intimidation occurs around our elections, they send a clear message to religious and other minorities that their voices do not deserve to be heard. The implication that only some Americans have the right to safely choose their representatives is false and unacceptable. Our leaders must commit their rhetoric and resources to ensuring everyone can vote, worship, and live freely without fear.
Religious Communities Can Lead in Combating Hate
Now more than ever, we must show up for one another. 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.
Standing in solidarity with affected communities means showing up for them through action. Faith communities can and must come together to take an active role in making our communities safer. By partnering against hate, religious leaders and people of faith can send the message that hate speech and hateful violence will not be left unchallenged.
As religious minorities and houses of worship are targeted around the election, the connection between religious freedom and the preservation of our democracy is apparent now more than ever. The freedom to believe as we choose is a fundamental component of our national identity. We refuse to cede ground to anti-democratic activists who seek to use fear and intimidation to inhibit our electoral process. True religious freedom protects people of all faiths and none. It’s our duty to show up for our neighbors as we carry out the most fundamental processes of our democracy.
Learn more about Interfaith Alliance’s efforts to combat hate and discrimination.