Washington, D.C. – A mosque in Joplin, Missouri, burned down this morning. Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement in response:
As we learn today that the Joplin Islamic Society in Missouri has burned to the ground, we are still reeling from senseless shootings in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater and at the Sikh Temple of Oak Creek, Wisconsin. In less than three weeks, the world has witnessed three confounding tragedies.
While we dare not venture assumptions as to whether today's fire was intentional or not, we extend our condolences to the community of families who prayed at this mosque; as they observe Islam's holy month of Ramadan, their house of worship now smolders, no longer usable. Whether we are religious or choose not to be, whether each of finds faith in quiet, solitary settings or amongst others within the walls of religious institutions, we each deserve to feel safe in our religious choices. In fact, we are promised such assurance of protection by our Constitution's First Amendment. The freedom of religion is not a liberty to be taken lightly; it is at the very heart of our American democracy.
Our sorrow related to these recent tragedies is deepened by the reality of how much still must be done to eliminate violence spawned by hate, often religion-based. The grief we experience will fuel even greater efforts on our part to help shape a nation that celebrates rather than seeks to obliterate diversity, a nation that makes good decisions about how best to keep the tools that are ravaging our society away from those in whose hands they can create such damage.
Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.