We join together in this statement to encourage people in moderation of speech and listening, to be wary of hate speech in public discourse, and to encourage unity during this election season.
The Saratoga Ministerial Association is a community of leaders from the houses of faith in Saratoga including Catholic and Protestant, Jewish and Muslim, Latter Day Saints and Episcopal, as well as Council members from the City of Saratoga. We are men and women who support one another in our efforts to heal, care for, inspire goodness, and remove barriers that exist within the fabric of our neighborhoods. In this particular moment in our national conversation we are very aware of the power of the words being used to erode the unity that we seek in our community. This rhetoric is leading many to construct a modern false idol out of power and privilege, and we reject the notion that we can ensure the safety of some by sacrificing the hopes of others. The language is causing Americans to turn against their neighbors, particularly those who many appear different from themselves. No matter where we fall on the political spectrum, we must respect the dignity of every human being and seek the common good. We reject as well the uplifting of anger and violence as a mode of being and dealing with one another in this nation and in this world. From the holy men and women through our sacred histories we have learned tolerance, we have seen a higher standard of how to both care for people as well as stand up firmly, but peacefully, to those in power who seem to take advantage of that power. A society should not be judged by how it rewards its most privileged but how it cares for its most vulnerable. We urge all citizens to stand for peace, patience, and tolerance with one another (even those with whom we disagree), for civil public discourse, and wise discernment when enacting the privilege of voting in the midst of all the arguments and words.
We worry for the community that we are working hard to care for and live within. We also worry for the safety of all our children as they are very aware of the ramifications of the rhetoric that filters down to them in the form of threats and fear. Over and over again in our scriptures we hear “do not be afraid”. We are far too often hearing words of hate and thinly veiled racism, classism, and sexism that are indeed disturbing and causing great fear in many people of this nation. Thus we call for prayer for our country that a spirit of reconciliation will prevail, and we will not betray our truest selves.
Our hope is that we might find a common humanity, the strength of our unity, and our best selves that we might welcome the stranger and find the Holy in all of our encounters. May we know God’s blessing for all of humanity.
Rev. Erik Swanson, Westhope Presbyterian
Rev. Derek Engfelt, Immanuel Lutheran
Fr. Gary Thomas, Sacred Heart Catholic
Rev. Arvin Engelson, Saratoga Federated
Rev. Sara Pearson, Prince of Peace Lutheran
Rev. Nathan Winterhof, Prince of Peace Lutheran
Rev. Channing Smith, St. Andrews Episcopal
Manny Cappello, Mayor of Saratoga
Rabbi Philip Ohriner, Congregation Beth David
Dr. Imtiaz Qureshi, West Valley Muslim Association
Fr. Robert McKay, Sacred Heart Catholic