Sep  2014 23
Faculty Response to Rep. Bennett's Statements on Islam

The ecumenical faculty of Phillips Theological Seminary feels called to respond to the recent verbal attacks by Oklahoma State Rep. John Bennett (Republican from Sallisaw) on Islam, members of the American Muslim community, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), as well as to his misrepresentation of Islam.

We hereby join many others of good will in repudiating his chilling statement that Muslims are a "cancer that must be cut out of the American society." We also join in renouncing his inaccurate and misguided charge that "Muslim Americans who subscribe to Islam are just as bad as ISIS," and his claim that the goal of all Muslims is "the destruction of Western civilization from within." Finally we reject with others his virtual call to arms in his threat: "I'm not advocating violence against anyone ... but I am not going to stand back and allow them to let Islam take over this nation."  We make our response in the form of the following prayer:

In a time of great human misunderstandings,

when distrust, disrespect and demeaning forms of violence abound,

You are infinitely patient with us, gracious God,

even though we have so often become impatient with one another,

even though our impatience continues to breed hateful speech and crimes of prejudice—rooted as it is in fear of the unknown other and unjustly applied to social distinctions such as our neighbor's religion, race, ethnic origin, age, gender, sexual orientation and the like.

Yet we are confident that this is also a time marked by great hope for the fruits of deep human dialogue and cooperative engagement for the public good.  So we dare to pray, God of all people, that the dream you hold out for us of a truly global family which embraces our diversities will soon become real and tangible in our midst.                      

So call us again to stand forward, gracious God, as determined agents of your reconciliation and  wholeness, seeking justice for all, compassion for all; peace for all;

requiring truth-telling by all; a willingness to listen and learn by all;

a more equitable sharing of resources by all; and an extension of welcome to all who seek to belong.

Composed by Don A. Pittman
Approved by the Faculty of Phillips Theological Seminary

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