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 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.