The tragic war in Syria -- which has brought death and suffering to the Syrian people for six years -- reached a new heartbreaking low this week with the horrifying chemical weapons attack against a defenseless civilian population in Idlib Province, and the response of our government with unauthorized missle attacks on Syria’s Al Shayrat airfield.
Many of our partner faith-based organizations have issued statements and calls to action in response to the ongoing war and most recent tragedies, condeming both the use of chemical weapons and the retaliatory attacks by the U.S. Especially during our Jewish and Christian holy days this week, MVPJ encourages us all to pray fervently for the people of Syria and speak out boldly for actions that will bring humanitarian relief and authentic peace.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation issued a statement calling for international diplomacy and global humanitarian aid while urging us to contact our Senators and Congressional Representatives and tell them that the military attacks only increase the dangers and intensify the humanitarian catastrophe in the region. Click here to read and act!
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers) reasserts that "war is not the answer" and calls for efforts to stop the U.S. from escalating war. Click here to read their statement and respond to their action alert. They offer a conference call with experts on April 12 (click here to RSVP), and encourage face-to-face meetings with Congressmembers while they are in-district April 7-24.
The Pax Christi USA (Catholic) statement grieves the hearbreaking situation, reminding us of the truth that hate begets hate, violence begets violence.
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 prayer. 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.
Thursday, May 11th, 7-7:30pm: Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto Fireside Room, 505 E. Charleston Road, Palo Alto- Click here for directions.
Sunday, June 11th, 7-7:30pm: Congregation Beth Am Chapel, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills - Click here for map.
Tuesday, July 11th, 7-7:30pm: venue tba
Everyone here has constitutional rights, and that includes Muslims, immigrants and refugeees. The ACLU has Know Your Rights posters translated into 14 languages, and provides videos in Spanish, Arabic, Urdu and Farsi on what to do if stopped by immigrant agents or the police. Click here to access these important resources from the ACLU website, and share widely!
Knowing your rights is crucial, now more than ever.
This week a new Presidential Executive Order renewed the assault on refugees, especially those from Muslim-majority countries. Friends Committee on National Legislation furnishes background on the ban. For CAIR's (Council on American Islamic Relations) analysis, press conference and links to the actual text, click here.
This is not who we are as Americans and contradicts the central values of our many religious traditions, all of which teach us to welcome the stranger, show compassion to those in need, and respect the dignity of all people.
Please take a moment to do one or more – or all – of the following to oppose the new travel ban:
· Call the White House comment line (202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414) and tell President Trump that you are profoundly opposed to this policy. Give the President a strong and clear message: “As a person of faith, I oppose the refugee ban and believe we need to be doing more – not less – to support refugees. My faith moves me to show compassion to those in need and embrace the stranger as a moral imperative. My identity as an American leads me to insist that sheltering immigrants is one of our nation's proudest traditions.” HIAS (guided by Jewish values, working for the protection of all refugees) provides some script ideas and a follow-up electronic message option.
· Call or write to your Congressional Representative and Senators. Click here for contact information for our local Congresspeople and Senators. The ACLU offers an easy process for emailing your senators, but calling always carries more impact. Do both!
· Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper. It is important to keep the public discourse about the injustice of this sort of action strong. We must not allow such discrimination and inhumane exclusion to become normal or acceptable. The Friends Committee on National Legislation has talking points, writing tips and contacts for local newspapers. Just click here.
Community Shabbat Gathering for Solidarity and Friendship
Multifaith, intergenerational and multicultural gathering with vegetarian dinner, music, children's activities and lively conversation. Meet neighbors, make friends, and learn about diverse traditions.
Registration required. Adults $10; Children $5 to cover costs. Click here to purchase tickets and make reservations.
The California Senate recently passed SB 54, the California Values Act, that will ban the use of state and local resources from carrying out the work of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in deportation actions, essentially making California a Sanctuary state. This is a huge step in standing up for immigrants and those who could become targets of the Trump administration. Click here to download a SB 54 Fact Sheet. SB 54 next must go through the California Assembly committees (which may entail amendments or changes), pass a majority State Assembly vote, and then be signed into law by Governor Brown.
What is most important to do now is to contact your State Assemblymember to express your support of SB 54 and urge them to work for its passage.
California Religious Freedom Act, SB 31, prohibits a state or local agency or public employee acting under color of the law from providing to the federal government personal information regarding a person's religious beliefs, practices or affiliation. This bill, which has also passed the State Senate, will ensure that California does not participate in any way in a registry targeting Muslims or any other religious group. Click here to read more about SB 31. Please contact your local Assemblymember and urge him/her to support SB 31.
Contact information for local Senators and Assemblymembers can be found below.
This is a gift to you for today: WATCH THIS VIDEO AND BE TRULY INSPIRED.
In face of the darkness, Valerie Kaur shares the deep hope of her Sikh tradition as she speaks on December 31, 2016 at the National Moral Revival Campaign.
What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?
Valerie Kaur is filmmaker, civil rights lawyer, Sikh activist and interfaith leader. She is founder of the Groundswell Movement.
During a time when our immigrant neighbors are rightfully afraid to leave their homes, take their children to school, seek shelter from the cold, register for college, or seek medical attention, as people of faith we cannot sit by and simply pray. During a time when Jews and Muslims nationally and locally are targets of bomb threats, hate crimes, and desecration of sacred spaces, as people of faith we cannot sit by and simply pray. During a time when tens of millions of Americans rightfully live in fear that they will lose their access to health coverage, as people of faith we cannot sit by and simply pray. During a time when millions of people have fled their homes due to horrendous violence in places like Syria, Iraq, Sudan and Libya, and thousands of people drown trying to find refuge, as people of faith we cannot sit by and simply pray. During a time when these and many other forms of hate, violence, and injustice fill our inboxes, newspapers, social media feeds, and dinner table conversations, as people of faith we cannot sit by and simply pray.
As people of faith we are called to:
And very importantly, as people of faith, we must do all of this and more in the name of our faiths, shining a bright light of hope that together, people of all faiths and no particular faith at all, can and will stand up for peace and social justice, and as we unite in that cause, we will grow stronger in love, a love that will be victorious.
San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance prohibiting the city using any resources to create, implement, provide investigation or information for, to enforce, or otherwise assist or support any government program requiring the registration of individuals on the basis of religion, national origin, or ethnicity, or creating a database of individuals on the basis of religion, national origin, or ethnicity.
What a wonderful example of what we can work for in our cities and counties!
The news clip below gives a clear and strong outline of the ordinance. (Sabiha Basrai, the person being interviewed, is the daughter of MVPJ Steering Committee members, too!)
All faith traditions teach about welcoming the stranger, supporting the vulnerable, and helping those in need. In response to the cruelty of the recent presidential executive orders, as people from diverse spiritual communities, we lift up our hearts in prayer and join our minds and lives in solidarity.
MVPJ has just begun collecting prayers, statements and other faith-based readings from diverse traditions for refugees, immigrants, Muslim-Americans, and others who are hurt by these orders. If you have resources you would like to share, please let us know.
We encourage congregational leaders to speak out for friendship and peace with our Muslim sisters and brothers and against Islamophia and hate of any sort. Find ways to educate your congregation about Islam and build relationships and understanding across religious differences. Invite a speaker from American Muslim Voice, CAIR or ING. Organize a time of fellowship and community building between communities. Consider using your church sign as a way to make a public statement of solidarity and friendship with the Muslim community.