We met on a summer day in Atlanta, Georgia through the Youth Theological Initiative on the campus of Candler School of Theology, Emory University. That day, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Sikh participants came together to share how their faith inspires them to serve. Then together, we went and served our community. According to some, and arguably to President-Elect Trump himself, we should not be friends. We should be weary of each other, skeptical of our places in society, and divided because of our faiths. But friendship overcome adversity and discord. Ours was built on the foundation of the sacredness of human life and our duty as individuals to make our world better . Although some saw President-Elect Trump's win as a referendum on how our society should be, we instead have taken it as a call to action. We texted each other after the election and found that in our common humanity, we had a future with hope despite all that has been said.
One of us, as a clergy person in the Christian faith, during his baptismal vows his parents undertook, said they would resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. The injustices and oppression that are happening currently are reprehensible and should not be tolerated by any person of faith. The fact that Evangelical Christians carried Donald Trump to victory is a sign that work must be done to educate and illumine that racism and islamophobia are wrong and must be condemned by Christians across denominational lines. Some may believe this to be nothing more than a buy in to the hate and fear mongering, but we implore you to take a moment and listen to what our leaders are saying. They are calling for a registry of our Muslim neighbors and the separation of families under the banner of security and a better life. But how much better will that life be if it is at the real expense of others?
The reality is, our great nation is hurting. There is no denying the real strain of hate that still grips us and holds us back, but even that is part of a great hurt that continues to paralyze us. After all, one of us has been harassed for being a Muslim woman. That hate is very real. We are not, however, powerless to stop this. We vote once every few years in an election, but by giving back and volunteering, we vote everyday about the kind of community we want. Our country has seen a sharp decline in civic engagement that has directly contributed to the polarized nature of our discourse and thoughts. It may seem that we are all stuck in our ways, but we have seen that is not the only reality. We have seen the beautiful results of the interfaith service work that has brought us together. What better way to reach out to our neighbors than with a goal to better our communities?
We cannot do this work by ourselves. We are asking you to join us in the hard work of interfaith dialogue and understanding. Community work and organizing must extend beyond denominations, religions, and individual politics. We must stand together against the problems this nation faces. Together we are better, together we work and fight for justice. That work will be messy, but it is necessary. Our lives are so much richer because we chose to love even when it is hard. We chose to listen even when it made us uncomfortable. We also chose to serve. Join us and take the #ServiceUnites pledge today and invite a friend. You will see an entire list of projects near you, and who else has joined. Let us actively mobilize for a better community, nation, and world.
The Reverend Rob Lee is an MTS student at Duke University Divinity School. His new book Stained-Glass Millennials, is due out next month.
Ruwa Romman has been an interfaith leaders for almost ten years now. She currently serves as Development Coordinator for Points of Light and hopes to serve in government one day.