Them Their Victory: A Religious Response to Terrorism
Joint Statement by the National Council
Of Churches of Christ and the Islamic Society of North America
We, American religious leaders, share the broken
hearts of our fellow citizens. The worst terrorist attack in history that
assaulted New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, has been felt
in every American community. Each life lost was of unique and sacred value
in the eyes of God, and the connections Americans feel to those lives
run very deep. In the face of such a cruel catastrophe, it is a time to
look to God and to each other for the strength we need and the response
we will make. We must dig deep to the roots of our faith for sustenance,
solace, and wisdom.
First, we must find a word of consolation for the untold pain and suffering
of our people. Our congregations will offer their practical and pastoral
resources to bind up the wounds of the nation. We can become safe places
to weep and secure places to begin rebuilding our shattered lives and
communities. Our houses of worship should become public arenas for common
prayer, community discussion, eventual healing, and forgiveness.
Second, we offer a word of sober restraint as our nation discerns what
its response will be. We share the deep anger toward those who so callously
and massively destroy innocent lives, no matter what the grievances or
injustices invoked. In the name of God, we too demand that those responsible
for these utterly evil acts be found and brought to justice. But we must
not, out of anger and vengeance, indiscriminately retaliate in ways that
bring on even more loss of innocent life. We pray that President Bush
and members of Congress will seek the wisdom of God as they decide upon
the appropriate response.
Third, we face deep and profound questions of what this attack on
America will do to us as a nation. The terrorists have offered us
a stark view
of the world they would create, where the remedy to every human grievance
and injustice is a resort to the random and cowardly violence of
against the most innocent. Having taken thousands of our lives, attacked
our national symbols, forced our political leaders to flee their
chambers of governance, disrupted our work and families, and struck
hearts of our children, the terrorists must feel victorious.
But we can deny them their victory by refusing to submit to a world created
in their image. Terrorism inflicts not only death and destruction but
also emotional oppression to further its aims. We must not allow this
terror to drive us away from being the people God has called us to be.
We assert the vision of community, tolerance, compassion, justice, and
the sacredness of human life, which lies at the heart of all our religious
traditions. America must be a safe place for all our citizens in all their
diversity. It is especially important that our citizens who share national
origins, ethnicity, or religion with whoever attacked us are, themselves,
protected among us.
Our American illusion of invulnerability has been shattered. From
now on, we will look at the world in a different way, and this attack
life as a nation will become a test of our national character. Let
us make the right choices in this crisisto pray, act, and unite
against the bitter fruits of division, hatred, and violence. Let
ourselves to global peace, human dignity, and the eradication of
injustice that breeds rage and vengeance.
As we gather in our houses of worship, let us begin a process of seeking
the healing and grace of God.
Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, Secretary General, National Council of Churches
of Christ in the USA
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, Secretary General, Islamic Society of North