An Interesting Evening: Working across Faith Traditions
Feb 08, 2011 by M. Daniel Carroll R. | 0 Comments
This last Thursday, 3 February, I was one of two speakers at an event that was held at a local synagogue here in Metro-Denver. The theme for the evening was: “Undercurrent of Hate: The Link Between Anti-Semitism, Racism and Anti-Immigration Rhetoric.” The other presenter was someone from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based in Montgomery, Alabama. The purpose of the Center is to identify hate rhetoric and groups that target minorities.
Two things were fascinating and important about the event. First, what we are witnessing in this country is a common rhetoric of rejection of minorities—the same language and stereotypes. This has been a thread throughout the history of this country (and probably of every country in the world). What changes over time is the target: Afro-Americans, Jews, Asians, Hispanics. The goal of the event at the synagogue was to encourage a different tone and vocabulary in the immigration discussion, whatever position one takes. The media fosters simplistic bullet-point sound bites that are not constructive and which are often inflammatory. As faith communities, we need to get beyond that.
Second, the evening was put together by the local chapters of two Jewish groups: Hadassah (a women’s organization) and the American Jewish Committee. Jews from around the country are stepping up to speak on behalf of immigrants, especially the undocumented, because their history as individuals and communities has been one of caricature and marginalization. They want to lock arms with others who now experience this. This week I was invited to be a part of another event that is being planned in another city for later in the year; one of the co-sponsors will be the Anti-Defamation League, another Jewish organization.
The heartening thing here is that we are witnessing a continued broadening of support for immigrants within faith communities. With Jews, we share a common Scripture—the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures. There is much that we can agree on and champion biblically on this issue of immigration.
What a surprising evening, what a wonderful encouragement!