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From the Bishop | 5.2.19

Dear Pastors and Deacons,

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

It grieves me deeply to share with you that this morning (May 1, 2019) on NPR our Lutheran name was publicly associated with anti-Islamic rhetoric. It was small comfort for me to realize in listening to the radio story that the Lutheran pastor whose Easter sermon included the hope for “a violent purge of Muslims from France” following the Notre Dame fire is not a member of the ELCA. The fact that the print story includes an apology does not do much to take away the great damage that the sound byte and print headline have already done.

In response I have worked with our synod staff to send letters to several Muslim leaders in the greater Pittsburgh area reaffirming our church’s commitment to interfaith cooperation. We have also sent a press release seeking to distance anti-Islamic rhetoric from the Lutheran name, and lifting up our church’s draft Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment.

I highly commend the Declaration to you for use in your local setting. Here are a few lines that speak specifically to today’s news:

We live in a context of ongoing anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Semitism, … In some cases, the words and deeds of a few are used to discredit entire religious communities. … We ought not allow these voices to determine or influence our perception of our neighbors. The ELCA must play an active role in dispelling fear of our neighbors, opposing religious bigotry, and standing with those who are the targets of fear, discrimination, hatred, and violence. (pp. 4-5)

Thank you for your witness to peace and neighbor care in your ministry site. Our faith is meant for shining light into every darkness. Even at the grave, we sing our alleluias!

With you in Christ,

Bishop Kurt F. Kusserow