Monthly Multifaith Prayers for Peace
In the midst of difficult times, Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice will host “Peaceful Presence,” a monthly prayer service on the evening of the 11th of each month, offering a time of quiet multifaith prayers for peace and strength for the journey. All are welcome: those of all faith traditions and of no defined faith, those who are suffering at the hands of their own government, those who need a pause in the midst of intensive work on behalf of others, and all who would like to pray with others for the well-being of all. The prayer time will include elements from several religious traditions.
California Assembly Joint Resolution 33 (AJR 33) calls on our federal government and our nation to make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of our national security policy by embracing the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Update: AJR 33 PASSED ON AUGUST 28! Thank you for your work in supporting this step toward nuclear disarmament! Click here to read the press release with more information from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
This resolution is short and easy to read (click here for full text), and it gives us a rare opportunity to act. It is also easily summarized. It calls on our federal leaders to:
More than 100 people gathered on June 26 at 5pm at the corner of Winchester and Stevens Creek in San Jose to protest the Supreme Court decision upholding the Muslim ban. The event was hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and co-hosted by MVPJ along with a multitude of other faith and civic organizations. Other rallies were held across the nation.
Click here for video analysis of the SCOTUS decision from CAIR.
WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
1) If you are not a Muslim, contact every Muslim you know to tell them that you care, that you stand in solidarity with them, and that we will fight this together. Many Muslims now face not being able to have family members be with them for weddings, birthdays, at times of sickness or death and much more. It can be an excrutiatingly painful time. The Supreme Court decision also opens the door for more acts of discrimination and hate. It can be a scary time, too. We must remember that we belong together as one human family. Show your commitment today. Don't underestimate how important personal relationships are at this time!
2) If you are Muslim, reach out to those you trust for care and comfort and courage. Remember that you are not alone. We are in this together and for the long haul. Click here to read CAIR's "Know Your Rights" statement for important and updated information. The Family and Youth Institute has very helpful information about processing your own feelings and talking with your children, "Being a Muslim Family in the Time of the Muslim Ban."
3) Contact your members of Congress to tell them to stand up against the Muslim Ban and this decision. The Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers, FCNL) reminds us, "This ruling does not change the basic truth: the president's executive order immorally and intentionally targets Muslim citizens, immigrants, and visitors. The Supreme Court has said that the policy is permissible. But that doesn't make it right." Even if you think your Congressmembers agree with you, a call or email urges them to take leadership in the effort to rescind the ban. Click here to use the FCNL website to send a a letter -- or better yet, call directly!
4) If you use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, click here for these easy tools provided by CAIR to amplify the message via social media.
RELIGIOUS RESPONSES TO THE SCOTUS DECISION
United Church of Christ: "UCC Leaders Sickened, Angered by Supreme Court Ruling Upholding Muslim Travel Ban"
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice (MVPJ) stands in solidarity with immigrants and refugees fleeing violence and injustice in their own countries and strongly condemns our government’s current policy of detaining indefinitely all immigrants crossing our southern border. Fleeing violence and injustice is not a crime, and people seeking asylum should not be treated as criminals before their cases are heard and evaluated. They should instead be able to seek safe refuge in this country. Keeping children in prison-like conditions, even if with their parents, is inhumane and will cause long-term damage to innocent children. Every faith represented in the MVPJ family abhors such practices and teaches its members to love their neighbors, to help those in need, to be kind and compassionate to all.
While the Presidential Executive Order issued June 20, 2018 demonstrates that widespread, sustained religious, political and civic protest can have an impact, it does not solve the problem. It does not include any plan to reunite more than 2000 children who have already been forcibly separated from their parents, but leaves those children lost in a massive human rights nightmare. And it leaves in place the “zero-tolerance policy,” allowing children with their parents to be held in family prisons, perhaps indefinitely.
We hereby insist that our government immediately reunite those children and parents who have been separated from each other and establish a humane and expeditious process for immigrants crossing the border to apply for asylum. We call on government officials to listen deeply to the stories of these immigrants, to open their hearts to our common humanity, and to find a more compassionate and comprehensive approach to reforming our immigration system. We speak out in the name of all our Steering Committee members and their congregations of many faiths.
Many religious leaders and communities have decried the policy of separating parents and children, and now imprisoning both. Read below for a list of statements, and possibilities for action. Click here for a careful explanation of the June 20, 2018 Executive Order by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quaker).
Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice (MVPJ) has set up a process which will allow us to respond quickly with publicly visible acts of solidarity on behalf of any religious, ethnic, or other vulnerable communities in our local area which are being threatened, or which have been harmed or violated in some way. Examples of triggers could be receipt of hate mail, defacing of property, threats to the well-being of the community or to a member of the community. Our goal is to gather in response and public solidarity within 24-48 hours of learning about the incident. These MVPJ solidarity responses will be faithful, peaceful demonstrations of solidarity and friendship, and do not require the training necessary for the Rapid Response teams who will be possibly confronting ICE agents or raids. Supportive, peaceful, faith-based signs may be brought by participants to these public solidarity events.
When an action is needed, our email subject title will be “IMMEDIATE LOCAL RESPONSE NEEDED”, and the body of the email will include instructions as to where and when to gather.
If your community is targeted or threatened in some way, and you want to ask for a public show of solidarity, or simply discuss this possibility, please contact us through this email: email@example.com. You may certainly talk with anyone on the MVPJ steering committee personally if you prefer, however the "firstname.lastname@example.org" email is set up to be checked several times every day, for a quick response.
If your community is required to evacuate its premises due to an emergency such as a bomb threat or threatening graffiti and needs an alternate space for worship or study on short notice, we have several congregations who are willing to host you if at all possible. You may inquire about this offer through email@example.com and we will help you connect to these communities as quickly as possible.
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice Non-Violent Commitment
In all actions that it takes, members of Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice commit to the principles of non-violence, and pledge that all their actions will be peaceful, respectful, prayerful and non-violent.
Please join in the prayers and pleas for compassion as shared by the Elijah Interfaith Institute:
"Saddened by the suffering of Rohingiya people, which has been added to the suffering of so many other human being during the last few weeks, we, Buddhist and Muslim Leaders, associated with the Elijah Interfaith Institute, as well as leaders of other faith traditions, invoke the timeless aspiration of humankind for compassion and love, and yearning for guidance, succor, and help from supra-human realms so powerfully captured in the two prayers below—one from Buddhist sources and the second from the opening chapter of the Quran. We wish to recall this common teaching and high moral and spiritual yearning of the human soul at this point in time, especially in view of the suffering of the Rohingiya Muslims who are being persecuted and are suffering due to policies of a Buddhist majority state."
Over 200 people braved the thunder and rain on King Plaza in Palo Alto for a Peace Picnic followed by Multifaith Prayers for Peace & Justice. (For the words of the poem read at the picnic, click here.) The program included all ages, many faith traditions and people from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds.
Gathering songs were led by Chris Lundin of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic parish, and the Mitzvah Singers from Congregation Etz Chaim, both in Palo Alto.
Other musical offerings came from Baha'i singers Mahrou Derakshani and Chris French, young adults from the Sathya Sai International Organization, Region 7, and a children's choir from Congregation Beth Am.
The Sound of the Shofar, an Islamic Call to Prayer, a Christian Call to Worship and a Buddhist invitation to silence called us together, and Rabbi Amy Eilberg welcomed us into community and prayer. Speakers included Cantor Jaime Shpall from Congregation Beth Am (pictured with the children's choir above), Farha Andrabi Navaid (pictured right) who is President of the MVPA Musalla, a worship and community center for Muslims in the Palo Alto area, Rev. Fa Jun, a Buddhist/Interfaith minister from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos (pictured left), and Rev. Annanda Barclay from the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto (pictured below in the closing circle). A Prayer of Lament was led by Farukh Basrai, from Anjuman-e-Jamali and MVPJ, and Rev. Mark Arevalo from Spark Church, Palo Alto.
Episcopal priest Rev. Frannie Hall Kieschnick led us in a closing ritual of circle, candlelight, song. Rev. Kaloma Smith of University AME Zion Church, along with Rev. Annanda Barclay, sent us out with the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King:
MVPJ holds Peaceful Presence Prayer gatherings on the 11th of every month.
We thank Chris Cassell and Alfred Leung, afflicates of Pro-Bono Photography for the wonderful photos! To see more great pictures taken by them, click here and here. If you share these photos, please be sure to give them credit!
O God of Many Names,
Mystery of all Creation,
Source of Life and Love,
You who teach our spirits to sing,
And our hearts to weep:
We gather to celebrate our oneness, to pray for peace, to stand for love, to light a candle -- in a nation and a world that seem filled with division, violence, hatred and darkness.
Give us courage to name and face the gaping wounds and evils around us:
The hatred that led to the attacks of September 11, 2001; the devastation and death of many innocent lives that day; the ensuing spiral of war, revenge and human rights violations, shattering lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and beyond, as well as lives of U.S. women and men in uniform, their families, communities, and friends.
Hatred and white supremacy – from Charlottesville to Palo Alto; xenophobia and bigotry that treat some people as disposable;
Nationalism that justifies war and torture, the build up of weapons of mass destruction, bans on Muslims and refugees, cruel immigration policies and the destruction of dreams;
Religious hypocrisy that denies the sacred image of God in each and every human being;
Ignorance that denies the real crisis of our planet, that offers weak platitudes rather than wise policies in the face of ecological catastrophe;
For all we do, and all we tolerate, that destroys the dreams of our children, of any child, for a chance to live in a just and peaceful world.
Many people asked about the wonderful poem written and read by Naiel Ahmed Chaudry (pictured left reading it at the picnic) during the Peace Picnic program.
"WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER"
... by Naiel Ahmed Chaudry
We can be boys and we can be girls
But altogether we'll shine like pearls
We can be black and we can be white
But altogether we'll have the might
We can be short and we can be tall
But altogether we'll never fall
We can be strong and we can be weak
But altogether we'll be unique
We can be poor and we can be rich
But altogether we'll make the switch
We can be fast and we can be slow
But altogether we'll make it flow
We can be right and we can be wrong
But altogether we will be strong!
We are collecting helpful resources from other organizations.
Here are some we have found so far:
Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Resource Guide - Great resource from Southern Poverty Law Center.
Do's and Don'ts for Bystander Intervention - A one page list of important guidelines from the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker organization).