To Our Brothers and Sisters at Emanuel AME Church:
Over the past few days, we have read newspaper articles, listened to radio reports and viewed television footage highlighting the wanton slayings that have so devastated your congregation, the Charleston community, our nation and our world. In the face of such human anguish, it is impossible to know what we as onlookers can do or say that will be appropriate and meaningful. We recognize that whatever token gesture we make is simply that: a token gesture. Yet we feel that even token gestures are better than sitting idly by and doing nothing.
Inadequate though this expression of our support and solidarity inevitably is, we as the Executive Committee of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida want you to know that our hearts go out to you at this time of great grief and perplexity. We lay no claim to truly comprehending the enormity of what you are going through, but we can assure you that our hearts are made heavy even by the amount we do understand.
Not only are you suffering the cruel loss of family and friends—Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, DePayne Middleton, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson and Daniel Simmons—you are also faced with the grim reality that in the hearts and minds of far too many an irrational and inexplicable bigotry and hate simmer beneath the surface just waiting for an opportunity to burst forth.
Such animosity may be based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender or a long list of other categories and labels. But whoever the victim, whatever the motivation, wherever it emerges and however it manifests itself, we must work to counteract its deadly impact and try to educate concerning our need as a human race to relate to each other as the brothers and sisters we truly are. Be assured that the interfaith Council of Central Florida is working toward that end.
In the form and manner unique to each of our respective faith traditions, we as the Executive Committee of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida are praying that you as members of the Emanuel AME Church will find comfort and solace in this hour of great need. We also pray that people of goodwill the world over will not only step forward to help bind up the wounds of all who suffer but will refuse to rest until we together have created a society where such tragedies are relegated to historical footnotes and no longer the subject of current news headlines.
This is our fervent hope and prayer.
Dr. Michael E. Moriarty, Buddhist
Rev. Bryan Fulwider, United Church of Christ
Dr. Claudia Schippert, Buddhist
Rabbi David Kay, Jewish
Dr. Deen D. Khandelwal, Hindu
Rev. Gus Davies, Evangelical
Imam Hatim Hamidullah, Muslim
Pastor James Coffin, Seventh-day Adventist
Mr. Jasbir Singh Bhatia, Sikh
Rev. Kathy Schmitz, Unitarian Universalist
Ms. Lynette Fields, United Methodist
Mr. Robert J. Ray, Evangelical
Mr. Navtej Singh Khalsa, Sikh
Imam Muhammad Musri, Muslim
Father George Nursey, Roman Catholic
Mr. Abhinav Dwivedi, Hindu
Dr. Sheri Dressler, Baha’i
Bishop Allen Wiggins, The Hope Church
Rev. Jason Micheli, Presbyterian