by Bonnie Tamres-Moore
I am the director of The Banner Project, which is sponsored by Interfaith Action for Human Rights (IAHR). It is co-sponsored by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign
IAHR decided to create The Banner Project because there has been a precipitous rise in anti-Muslim bigotry in America, particularly in the past 6 months. When constant messages of hatred and fear of Muslims surround the public, many people begin to think that this is normal. They often become silent. Yet, silence in the face of expressions of hatred and scapegoating creates a fertile space for fear and hatred to grow. As John Wesley said, “What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace “
When we begin to regard any group of people as the “other”, we then find them less worthy, less human, and we are willing to act in ways that are morally reprehensible. I often think of one my favorite quotes by Martin Luther King, “we must speak with all humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak”. This quote means so much to me because it reminds me to have humility, to realize I don’t know everything, but to remember I still have the moral responsibility to speak.
Our hope at IAHR is that The Banner Project will engender concrete and meaningful connection with the Muslim community wherever the banners hang as well as witness. We are seeing this hope realized in ways that are joyful and unexpected. Many faith communities across the country that are hanging the banner are reaching out in friendship and support to the local Muslim community and the Muslim community is reaching out as well.
Hanging the banner is an act of visual witness .Visual witness is powerful in changing hearts and minds. It can be a challenge, a catalyst and a symbol for a new way of thinking about each other - a new way of thinking about the inviolate dignity of every human being.
You will find below four statements of faith leaders regarding the banner project.
On Hanging the Banner – Faith Leaders Speak
We've had a very positive reaction in our congregation to the Banner Project. I've heard nothing but overwhelming support for the banner and for the public witness of our congregation and others in the face of so much Islamophobia.
There was some concern that the banner would just be a banner. Are we just hanging a banner outside and doing nothing to work with our Muslim neighbors? What does it mean, after all, to stand with our Muslim neighbors if it doesn't mean meeting with them and working with them? And so I think the banner has helped not only put in relief work that we're already doing but it's also helped push us to think about what we will continue to do to be in solidarity with our Muslim neighbors.
Rev John Elford, University United Methodist Church
University Baptist Church has had an enthusiastic response from the congregation concerning the Banner Project. It fits so well with our historic commitment to interfaith and ecumenical friendship. Because of one negative phone call, we decided to place a blurb on our website regarding our participation in the project (which will be posted when our internet is repaired.) Thank you for the opportunity to bear witness to our American belief in equality, our Baptist belief in religious liberty, and our Christian belief in universal love.
Rev Larry Bethune, Senior Minister, University Baptist Church
When we unfurled our banner, the people in attendance applauded!
Rev Mary Wilson, Pastor, Church of the Savior
The reaction to the banner by our members, especially on social media like Facebook, has been very positive. Everyone is proud to be part of a synagogue that is taking this public stand. We’ve received an outpouring of gratitude from the Austin Muslim community, too.
Rabbi Steven Folberg, Senior Rabbi, Beth Israel
You Can Order a Banner by Clicking Here