Several U.S. bishops attended an interfaith dialogue earlier this week in Washington D.C. and voiced their opposition to recent events in the country that have displayed anti-Muslim sentiments.
Numerous religious leaders from Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths attended a Sept. 7 meeting in D.C., titled “Beyond Park 51,” which was hosted by the Islamic Society of North America.
In a statement on Thursday, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Bishop William Murphy and Bishop Howard Hubbard said they voiced their “solidarity” with the leaders who gathered to “denounce categorically derision, misinformation and outright bigotry being directed against America’s Muslim community.”
The three prelates are chairmen of USCCB's Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Committee on International Justice and Peace, respectively.
Both the protest of a planned mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York City and the plan by a Florida pastor to publicly burn the Quran on Sept. 11 have stirred controversy and contributed to what some fear is an increasing anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S.
Agence France Presse (AFP) reported on Thursday that in recent months, there have been incidents of vandalism and attempted arson at a mosque in Arlington, Texas and threats to a mosque near Fresno, California. There has also been suspected arson at a construction site for a mosque at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Recently in New York, a Muslim cab driver was stabbed by a man who reportedly made jokes about Ramadan before attacking. The AFP also reported that a Sikh convenience store clerk in Seattle, Washington, was assaulted by a man who yelled “You're Al-Qaeda. Go back to your country.”
“All acts of intolerance aimed at a religious community should find no place in our world, let alone in our nation which is founded on the principle of religious freedom,” the bishops wrote.
The U.S. prelates also said they were “heartened” by the recent statement from the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue on Wednesday condemning the planned Quran burning.
Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, Florida said earlier this week that his intention in burning the book is to raise “hard questions” about its content and the nature of Islam. Religious and political leaders alike have concurred with the sharp warnings expressed by General David Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan.
On Thursday afternoon, Pastor Jones called off the planned Quran burning, saying that he had reached an agreement to move the so-called Ground Zero mosque.