This Is Also Who We Are!

Troy-area Interfaith Group has worked for peace and justice through our support of groups such as the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Detroit, the Michigan Campaign for Justice, and the Charter for Compassion. But when a Sikh Gurdwara, currently under construction in the neighboring city of Sterling Heights, was defaced with hate graffiti, we felt we needed to do something concrete. As a result, many of our members joined a group of people from many different faiths, to protest this action. 
Sadly, soon after the event at the Gurdwara, a local Chaldean Catholic Church also was the victim of this crime, defacement of a House of Worship. Many TIG members joined others as we stood outside before most masses the weekend of the crime, in silent support of the church members, and to show we stand together with others in condemning such acts.
Following is the statement made by the TIG Leadership Team chair, Brenda Balas at the Sikh Gurdwara rally. It speaks for all of us who are members of TIG:

"The Troy-area Interfaith Group condemns the malicious acts of destruction inflicted this week upon the Sikh House of Worship, the Gurdwara in Sterling Heights.  This cowardly, hateful crime has no place in this century, no place in America, no place in Michigan, and no place in our community.   The Troy-area Interfaith Group, which is composed of representatives from across the world’s faith traditions, stands beside both its brothers and sisters of the Sikh faith, whose house of worship has been threatened and vandalized, and also beside its brothers and sisters of the Muslim faith, whose name has been written in this destructive act.  We stand beside persons of all faiths who seek peace and justice.  For whenever one of our neighbors is threatened with disrespect and violence, then we are all threatened.   Therefore, we must come together and on this, stand as one.
If we as a nation learned anything from destruction caused by prejudice and misguided misinterpretations of religious beliefs, it is that we value and honor the precious freedoms afforded to us in this country, freedoms granted to ALL citizens.  Let’s help protect our freedoms and rights and keep ALL of our citizens safe.  Keep this poisonous hatred off our soil and out of our very own neighborhoods.
Join us in creating something positive and noble from this deplorable act.  Together--and even with greater conviction today than a week ago-- we will combat such prejudiced behaviors through education, interaction, discussion, and nonviolent action.   In order to protect our great, diverse communities, we ask persons of every faith tradition to speak out against hateful, prejudiced words and actions whenever they are shared—at home, in school, at work, in politics, and in our community.   Prejudices don’t have to be physical—vandalism or violence-- to be hurtful and destructive.  Look around you.  Do your part to stand up to hatred and prejudice in your every-day life--and then go one step further.  Learn something new and true about different faiths practiced by your neighbors who share our community.  Pay attention to the news.  Read a book.  Engage with a person whose faith may be different from your own.  Have a dialogue.  Attend a community event or program.  We’re all different, and yet, we’re all the same.
The Troy-area Interfaith Group often shares the fact that at least 13 major world religions recognize the concept of the “Golden Rule.”  In Christianity, it is said, “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you.”  In the Bahá'í Faith, it is spoken, “Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.”  And in Sikhism, “I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am friend to all."
I ask you to consider the ever-relevant, call-to-action of the mission statement of the Troy-area Interfaith Group:
 The Troy –area Interfaith Group exists to invite all faith communities to gather, grow and give for the sake of promoting the common values of love, peace and justice among all religions locally and globally.  We believe that peace among peoples and nations requires peace among the religions. 
If this unacceptable act of vandalism on this house of worship can cause just a few people, perhaps you, to re-think your own prejudiced viewpoints, or cause you to stand up for justice, then the victory is ours.
We wish the best to our neighbors of this Sikh community and peace to all."

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