WASHINGTON – Following yesterday’s shooting at Umpqua Community College, which several reports suggest may have been motivated by an antagonism toward religion and targeted Christian students, Interfaith Alliance Executive Director Rabbi Jack Moline released the following statement:
“With yesterday’s shooting at Umpqua Community College, yet another community joins our nation’s constellation of violence and grief. Congregations will be filled with mourners this weekend, classrooms will stand empty, and people will be left to wonder how much more of this senseless loss of life we must endure before taking action. My prayers are with the families and loved ones of those lost yesterday, my thoughts are with all those struggling today to seek a nation free of violence. Sadly, these shootings that capture the national attention have become all too common, and yet even the ones that make national news represent only a small fraction of the incomprehensible number of gun related deaths in this country every year.
“I am particularly troubled by reports that the shooter explicitly targeted Christian students and may have been driven by hatred toward religion in general. It is profoundly unsettling that, in the wake of so much violence, neither our schools nor or our religious communities feel safe. We must do more to ensure that no one is the victim of violence for any reason and certainly not because of their religious beliefs. We cannot abide such violent religious animosity in our midst.
“Early reports suggest the perpetrator of this crime was a vocal critic of organized religion. We must be careful not to assign his actions to all who live a secular life or who voice their criticism of religion. There is a proud history of respectful dissent from religious belief in this country, yesterday’s actions are not part of it.
“We must dig deep with in ourselves and our communities to understand why this violence happened, and we must motivate ourselves and our political leaders to create real change in our laws and our culture to prevent these needless deaths.”
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.