Meet UUC’s Interfaith Justice Team
UUC’s Solidarity with Muslim Communities Team has been active since the 2016 election renewing prior ties with the Muslim community and addressing Islamophobia. During this time we have been inspired by our old friends’ wholehearted outreach to scores of Jewish and Christian congregations. Witnessing and participating in this larger local interfaith movement has been an important learning experience for us.
Over the summer and fall the Solidarity group explored how to respond to this new reality. Expanding our focus to Interfaith Justice can enhance our role in these dynamic currents, and also create opportunities for learning and participation within our own congregation. Many exciting developments are happening on this front, which we are eager to share with you in the months ahead.
History: From 2011 to 2013 UUC participated in a national outreach to the Muslim community aided by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. That effort, called Building Bridges, also involved East Shore and other nearby UU congregations. We established relationships locally with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS). That coalition co-sponsored three public panel presentations addressing Islamophobia and immigration at UUC, East Shore, and MAPS, with speakers from human rights organizations and government figures.
The Solidarity with Muslim Communities Team, including two of the original Building Bridges members, reestablished these ties in 2017. We were heartened to witness the interfaith networking that had flourished in the meantime – the vibrant outreach program MAPS had established, the connections forged between Temple Beth Am and Idris Mosque, the welcoming atmosphere at the Interfaith Community Center, and the enthusiastic support that drew local congregations, clergy, and community leaders to the potluck events at Idris.
In 2020 the Solidarity group engaged in a discernment process guided by a set of questions posed by Rev. Beth: what would be gained or lost in expanding our focus? what would change, what would stay the same? do we have a shared understanding of interfaith justice? Through this we arrived at a set of understandings:
— We should be prepared to respond fluidly when any of our interfaith allies are targeted. If solidarity against anti-Semitism is required, for example, it would be within our charter to serve that need.
— We must be guided by truly listening to an ally’s concerns, a lesson learned when responding to harassment at Idris Mosque and hearing that congregation’s apprehension about raising the level of tension.
— The interfaith community is also alarmed by persecution of marginalized groups like the Rohingya and the Uighur populations, prompting us to think globally.
— An interfaith scope can help us embrace the faith diversity within UUC, inspire more interest from the congregation, and provide opportunities for youth and intergenerational participation.
We have found plenty of common ground in this community. Allies share core values of human rights and dignity, peace through cooperation, goodwill toward neighbors, and honoring indigenous peoples’ legacy in this region. Should we ever find ourselves in dialogue with others less accepting of the “many paths to God” philosophy, we have the UU principles to ground us and shape our approach. The Interfaith Justice Team meets monthly on Zoom to share insights, readings, and resources we have gained from this journey. All are welcome to join us. Contact us via the Interfaith Justice Team webpage (to be updated soon).