With a backdrop of giant Texas and American flags, two dozen Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith leaders pledged to fight prejudice last week at the Islamic Center of North Texas.
They discussed worries among their congregations following the presidential election, the importance of their faith in bridging divides and the avenues they could take to enact political change.
Edwin Robinson, director of urban strategies at Faith In Texas, a coalition of communities for economic and racial justice, underscored the importance of civic discourse as state lawmakers prepare for the 2017 legislative session.
He quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: “The law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me.”
“We need to go to the Legislature … to restrain the hearts of those who may not be as loving,” Robinson said.
Omar Suleiman, an Imam at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Irving, Texas, said faith leaders needed to purge resentment from their communities.
“The Quran tells us to repel that which is evil with that which is good,” Suleiman said.
He said many Muslims at his mosque are anxious after the election results.
“The fact that (president-elect Donald Trump) is a xenophobe and it wasn’t a deal-breaker is disturbing,” Suleiman said. But political differences shouldn’t break friendships, he cautioned. “We have to take the higher road,” he said.
Manda Adams, a reverend at the First Community Church in Far East Dallas, attended the event with her husband, who is Muslim.
She said it’s important for her, as a white woman, to acknowledge the privilege she has and speak up in her own community. A few months ago, at a diner in Dallas, she overheard someone at a table of white people say: “I don’t tell my kids to play cowboys and Indians anymore, I tell them to play cowboys and Muslims.”
She turned around said: “You’re talking about my family.” But she wishes she had instead said: “You’re teaching your children they shouldn’t form relationships with people who are different to them.”