Rochester, Have Faith
As leaders of faith communities in Rochester, we are compelled to respond to the white supremacist propaganda disseminated in Pittsford and Brighton in the past two weeks. We do not believe that the perpetrators of these acts represent the people of Brighton or Pittsford. Indeed, citizens in Pittsford made that clear when they marched on Sunday, October 2 to demonstrate that they do not embrace the values expressed by the so-called “White Rochester” group. PittsForward is a shining example of what Rochester truly is: a vibrant interfaith, multicultural and inclusive community.
The diverse faith communities that we represent believe that prejudice and hatred have no place in our community or anywhere. We believe that those who are promoting this divisive, narrow-minded and fear-based perspective are misinformed, misguided and simply wrong. We believe that God created the diversity that exists on this earth and that we are to respond to that diversity with compassion and a curiosity to learn from those who are different from us in order to understand ourselves and our world more deeply.
We believe that "White Rochester" is a backlash to recent, tragic events which have drawn attention to and sparked much public discourse on systemic racism in our nation, affecting deeply our African American sisters and brothers. Its values and intent stand in opposition to the teachings of all faiths, which uniformly lift up the principle found in the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
We call upon all citizens of Rochester, of whatever race, creed, color or ethnicity, to repudiate this kind of hate and divisiveness in our community. We note that those who have disseminated the propaganda have not shown the courage of their convictions, as they have spread their offensive literature under cover of night in neighborhoods that are predominantly white, erroneously assuming they might find people there who share their hateful attitudes. Their ignorance is exceeded only by their cowardice.
We invite all citizens of Rochester to learn about their neighbors, particularly those who are different from them. As people of faith our values are informed by our faith traditions. We also recognize that there are many citizens who do not profess a faith tradition who also share our values. We stand with them to bear witness that Rochester is not a community that shares the beliefs of this small hate group.
Rabbi Leonardo Bitran, Temple Beth El • The Rev. Leslie Burkardt and the Rev. Christa Moore-Levesque, St. Thomas’ Episcopal, Rochester • The Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady, Asbury First United Methodist Church • The Rev. Alan Dailey, Interim Executive Director, Greater Rochester Community of Churches/Faith in Action Network • Meredith Dragon, Judy Abelman, Karen Elam, Leslie Crane, and Julie B. Nusbaum, Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester • Sareer A. Fazili, Esq., President, Islamic Center of Rochester • The Rev. Amy Williams Fowler, Presbytery of the Genesee Valley • Cary M. Jensen, Rochester Stake, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Rabbi Alan J. Katz and Rabbi Debbi Till, Temple Sinai • Bishop John S. Macholz, Upstate New York Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America • Rabbi Avi Mammon and Alan Brodsky, Congregation Light of Israel • Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester • Sanjay Mathur, Hindu Temple of Rochester • Marvin A. McMickle, Ph.D., Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School • The Rev. Alan Newton, American Baptist Churches of the Rochester/Genesee Region • The Rev. Canon Robert Picken, St Paul’s Episcopal Church • Harbhajan S. Purewal for Gurudwara of Rochester, Penfield • Rabbi Drorah Setel, Temple Emanu-El • Dr. Muhammad Shafiq, Hickey Center, Nazareth College • Bishop Prince G. Singh, Episcopal Diocese of Rochester • Rabbi Rachel Smookler, Temple Beth David • Rabbi Peter W. Stein, Temple B’rith Kodesh • The Rev. Joshua D. Walters and the Rev. Ron Young, Christ Episcopal Church, Pittsford • Bishop Mark J. Webb, Upper New York Area, The United Methodist Church • The Rev. Gordon Webster, Chairman, Interfaith Forum of Greater Rochester • The Rev. Dr. William Huston Wilkinson, Greater Rochester Community of Churches/Faith in Action Network • The Rev. Dr. C. Denise Yarbrough, The Interfaith Chapel the University of Rochester • Janet V. Sunkin, Jewish Family Service of Rochester
Coordinated by Matthew Townsend: 585-672-3166