Tess Brown, SCN, joined hundreds of people at the Massachusetts State House on Tuesday, September 7, to take a stance against a group in Florida that has received attention following a proposed event on 9-11 (September 11) involving the possible burning of Qur’ans. Sister Tess also signed a petition and notes that at the time she signed the petition, there were over 1400 signatures. Sister Tess shares a brief description of her experience at the gathering on Tuesday.
The gathering was held in front of the Massachusetts State House, near the statue dedicated to the memory of Mary Dyer, a Quaker who was hung in the late 1600s, for her religious beliefs. Several hundred interfaith religious leaders gathered on Tuesday including Jewish, Muslim, and Christian (Roman Catholic, Baptist, UCC, Episcopalian, Unitarian, Quaker). In her opening remarks, the Reverand Nancy Taylor of the Old South Church, spoke of the conception and drafting of the petition and also introduced the speakers. All of the speakers condemned terrorism in all forms and expressed their belief in the core values of the United States including the First Amendment. The speakers also spoke of solidarity with and past experience of working with the Muslim community for the common good, as well as the importance of studying one another’s sacred text. One speaker directly addressed the person believed to be behind the proposed burning of Qur’ans and called for the halting of this event.
A number of media outlets attended the event including WCRB (ABC affiliate) and WFXT (Fox affiliate), as well as the Boston Globe. Articles can be viewed at www.boston.com. The first speaker was the Rabbi of the Jewish Temple in Newton, Massachusetts –he recalled the opposition 60 years ago to the Jewish community buying land for the site on which the present Temple is located. Speakers from other faith traditions shared their powerful stories including the Reverend Walter Kuenin, Chaplain at Brandeis University, who recalled the burning of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown. He also spoke of Brandeis University being founded because Jewish students were excluded from higher education and therefore Brandeis was founded to be open to students from all faiths.
To find out more about the petition and the gathering, go to the Mass Bible Society link to the petition/pledge and the Mass Bible Society’s offer of two Qur’ans for ever one burned.
Today, September 9, 2010, Sister Tess is elated with reports that the burning of Qur’ans has been cancelled. She also praises comments made by the President of the United States regarding the need to be respectful of all faith traditions.