The inhumane and unbelievable violence that has struck the island Nation of Sri Lanka is beyond comprehension. The minority Christian population of Sri Lanka has long been the object of violence and persecution. It seems feeble to say our thoughts and prayers are with those who suffered loss of life and limb. While we stand in solidarity with all those who are suffering from this continuous assault, we realize that more needs to be done. Once again, the time has come to break the stranglehold of violence and hate. Responding to this dreadful situation with more violence, only seems to justify the use of violence whenever disputes or misunderstandings arise. Hate must not be given legitimacy.
The Easter Sunday and on-going attacks invite us to consider one possible Christian response to such useless murder and mayhem. We offer to you this reflection from the viewpoint of a Christian peace-maker:
Easter is the celebration of the Risen Jesus who was unjustly crucified by the hostile State of Rome for standing up for the oppressed and marginalized. In the course of that cruel execution, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them.” Christians refuse to be defined by violence. As the powerful seek revenge, Christians seek to understand and forgive. We do so not as victims or enablers of violence. We seek not to imitate what we abhor.
Christians are ultimately followers of Jesus in the practicalities of their lives. We see suffering and violence as opportunities to become like the One we call “Savior of the World.” The Savior commanded us to love our enemies and do good to those who would hurt us. As such, Christians hold themselves to a standard of living exemplified by Jesus himself. By exemplifying what it means to be human, Christians challenge their enemies to be humane.
Christians are always tempted to adhere to the “standards of this World” by compromising what they believe for the sake of safety and security. In the last analysis, Christians proclaim the “Kingdom of God” on Earth. Jesus prayed, “May God’s Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Christians refuse to be defined by nationalisms, politics, governments, and those who think institutions and ways of believing are more important than human rights and human persons.
Like their Lord, Christians live in the freedom of the children of God refusing to be conquered by those who would kill them. In such horrific moments as now, Christians everywhere join with their Sisters and Brothers in Sri Lanka remembering the example of Jesus who lovingly declared, “No one takes my life, I freely give it.”
We Christians now stand humbly with the Risen Lord as we reach out to all other human persons who seek justice, mercy, understanding, and peace. Realizing that we are all the Children of God, we say to those who hate, be healed of the necessity to harm others. We say to those who harbor resentment, come to us and we will listen to you. We say to those who would hurt and kill us, we will not cease to love you. We will become, even in the killing fields, what we want the World to be.
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
with the Board of Directors
The Interfaith Peace Project
A message on Sri Lanka from our local, regional Pagan Community:
Our warmest and deepest love to all those who have died, those who were related and those who still suffer as a result of the cowardly and hateful acts of desperate harm to Christians in Sri Lanka, today the Christian holy-day of Easter. Condolences to all our Christian siblings where ever they may be in the world
These are words that we have uttered for our Muslim and Jewish siblings all too recently for similar such heinous acts. Christians are and have been persecuted simply because they honor and love their God. Sadly, this persecution is not uncommon for those who believe/have faith in/practice/follow/live in accordance with any religion or spiritual path. Horrendously this time, in Sri Lanka today, recently in New Zealand, and in Pittsburgh not so long ago, people have been killed and injured in mind and body for such beliefs.
We have expressed condolences with minority religions. As members of Interfaith, which to means sharing in the love of humanity, the delight of sharing spiritual practice, and respecting difference, we must also reciprocate and express that same kindness, love, compassion and desire for peace with the majority religion, i.e. in this country – Christianity. We cannot suppose that Christians, being the majority religion here, do not suffer the same insult. At this time of hurt to one, and therefore hurt to all, that ‘all’ includes everyone of all religious persuasions.
As an Elected Member of the Interfaith Council of what is now called Contra Costa County, and representative of the Pagan Community I would like to add my condolences to those who have and are suffering as a result of the evil made manifest in the world. We, Pagans stand in solidarity with Christians.
Although the Christians in Sri Lanka have been harmed in mind and body, may the spirit of those who have been directly affected, all Christians, all peoples of faith and all those who live with goodness and love in their hearts, remain resolute. May our spirit never falter, always know that we, who are on the side of love, are the majority. We are the majority. Those who cause harm are not.
Let us all stand together for love, compassion and peace. May we make manifest in the world one simple, yet powerful word that encompasses all goodness, May we make manifest Love.
What is remembered lives,
What is remembered lives,
What is remembered lives,
and lives on in our hearts.
Dr Felicity Grove, Elder
Elected Member, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
Covenant of the Goddess
Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids
From our siblings at the Islamic Center of the East Bay, in Antioch:
Dear Christian Brothers in Faith,
Our words prove just hollow, as they do not go very far in putting balm and consolation on the bleeding hearts who lost their dearones engaged in prayers on a holy day in Sri Lanka, in the most gruesome and cowardly act. Who can feel safe now when even those engaged in just prayers get butchered!. We pray that their innocent blood brings peace all over the world. But these are just words. The pang and sufferings of this grave loss of innocent lives in Sri Lanka can neither be propely mourned, not gauged in its severity. May God in His Infinite Mercy console the grieved hearts.
Mohammad A Chaudhry
President of ICEB
From Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, Concord, CA
Dear Rev. McGarvey,
We are horrified at what has happened in Sri Lanka. In these times of trial mere condemnation is not enough. What we need is love that transcends identity based religion. Only love can conquer hate. These are times when the heavens weep for the innocent. We join men and women of all faiths in prayers in these tragic, turbulent and horrific times.
Prof. Dr. Nazeer Ahmed
Director, World Organization for Resource Development and Education, Washington, DCDirector, American Institute of Islamic History and Culture, Concord, CA
Member, State Knowledge Commission, Bangalore, India
The tragic news from Sri Lanka struck at our hearts: at least 321 people killed and more than 500 wounded in the horrific attacks on Easter Sunday, the holiest day of the Christian year. Sri Lanka has also seen more than its fair share of violence with nearly three decades of civil war having taken thousands of lives. The fact that terror is now a new threat is heartbreaking.
Still worse, this was no isolated incident. We have seen an epidemic of terror attacks on houses of worship—most recently on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and before that arson of Black churches in Louisiana, mass murder in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the shootings at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
The suffering caused by these attacks is incalculable. The cutting short of so many lives, the grief of families, the devastation of communities—these are all horrors enough in themselves. But the pain goes deeper still. To attack a house of worship, to attack and murder human beings at a house of worship, strikes at the relationship between humanity and God; it strikes at what people of faith feel to be the center of what it means to be human. The Talmud in Judaism and the Qur’an in Islam both proclaim that to destroy one human life is like destroying the whole world, and other faith traditions state this principle in other ways. And who can express the horror and outrage of acts like these when they are committed precisely in the name of religion?
For Christians, Easter means the emergence of new life out of death. Other traditions likewise hold out hope of renewal even in the darkest of circumstances. Is there such hope here?
There is, if we take hold of it. These tragic events are opportunities for all of us who are watching in dismay to help the families of the victims first and foremost by donating to various fundraising campaigns, to rebuild structures that have been destroyed, to form new and mend old relationships—and above all to root out the bigotry and extremism that spawn the violence we see erupting around us.
Doing this authentically means starting with ourselves. We must root out any traces of bigotry and bias within ourselves and then, firmly and lovingly, work to root them out of our family, our community, our nation. We must all be upstanders against racism and bigotry, however and wherever they present themselves. We cannot bring the dead back to life, but we can make of these deaths and our grief the soil for new life by giving our all to building a world of mutual understanding, respect, and peace.
KAICIID Board of Directors Condemn Sri Lanka Attacks21 April 2019, Vienna:
|KAICIID Board of Directors Condemn Sri Lanka Attacks21 April 2019, Vienna: |
The KAICIID Board of Directors issued the following statement following the news that came in on the morning of 21 April 2019 from Sri Lanka, where almost 300 Christian worshippers attending Easter Sunday services were killed in terrorist attacks, and many more were wounded.
The Board said:
“A day of peace and celebration was turned into one of violence and terror by the perpetrators of the Sri Lanka blasts. We condemn this cowardly attack against peaceful worshippers, and stand with the victims and the people of Sri Lanka in their time of sorrow. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased and with the wounded.
We call on the international community to urgently address issues related to the safety of churches, mosques, synagogues, and all houses of worship. The despicable targeting of peaceful worshippers must end. Attacks against peaceful worshippers, irrespective of their faith, is a violation of universal human rights, and we must all come together to end this horrifying phenomenon.
We call on religious communities to protect each other, and to stay united in a time where violence is meant to divide and create fear, only to increase hatred and intolerance. We must all remember that the true essence of all religions is based on our common human values, like dialogue, mercy, and peace.”
|About the KAICIID Board of Directors |
The International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) is an intergovernmental organization mandated to promote dialogue among different religious and cultural groups to promote justice, peace and reconciliation and to counteract the abuse of religion to justify violence.
The Centre is governed by a multi-religious Board of Directors, consisting of representatives of five religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. The Board Members are: Dr. Hamad Al-Majed, Dr. Kezevino Aram, His Excellency Bishop Miguel Ayuso, His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel, Reverend Kosho Niwano, His Virtue Sheikh ul-Islam A. Pashazade, Reverend Mark Poulson, Chief Rabbi David Rosen and Dr. Mohammad Sammak.
From the Parliament of the World’s Religions
|The Parliament Condemns Violent Attacks in Sri Lanka and Stands with the VictimsThe Parliament of the World’s Religions extends its deepest condolences to the victims of the bombing attacks that occurred this past Easter in Sri Lanka. Churches offering Easter services and a number of hotels were targeted in the attacks.|
We condemn these and all acts of terrorism against all peoples.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions is committed to a culture of non-violence and respect for life, as agreed upon on our signature document Towards A Global Ethic. The violation of life committed in these attacks is abhorrent and we call upon peoples of faith and conscience to come together and stand with the Christian community and all victims of these heinous attacks in Sri Lanka and around the world.“To be authentically human in the spirit of our great religious and ethical traditions means that in public as well as in private life we must be concerned for others and ready to help. We must never be ruthless and brutal. Every people, every race, every religion must show tolerance and respect–indeed high appreciation–for every other.”– Towards A Global Ethic:
A Declaration of the Parliament of the World’s Religions
|How You Can Help:Donate blood at your local hospital through the Sri Lanka National Blood Transfusion – Find the closest donation site here.Donate to the Red Cross, Asia Pacific Red Cross members and Sri Lanka Red Cross members are assisting during the crisis.Consider volunteering with Volunteer Sri Lanka, which send international volunteers to help teach at local schools, to care for the elderly, work at the teaching hospital, at the Nurses Training School, and to help rebuilding efforts.Read Statements from Interfaith Partners:From URI – Standing with Sri LankaFrom Religions for Peace – Religions for Peace Statement on the Terrorist Attacks in Sri LankaFrom OMNIA Institute for Contextual Leadership – A Statement on the Easter Attacks Terrorist Attacks in Sri LankaFrom The Elijah Interfaith Institute – Sri Lanka NewsblastFrom FEZANA – Statement Condemning Attacks in Sri Lanka|
Sri Lanka: Close to Home, from the Pace Bene nonviolent Catholic Ministry
RYAN HALLAPRIL 24, 2019
Ryan Hall and his wife Erandhi with their family at Christmas
When I first heard about the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka Easter Sunday morning, my thoughts drifted first to my wife, Erandhi, and her family who are Catholics from Sri Lanka. We live in such an interconnected world now that nearly anything that happens around the world can have some personal connection to us, but this one was much closer to home than my wife and I were used to.
When I told Erandhi that morning about the bombings she didn’t believe me, but once the shock wore off, she started reaching out to her parents and friends around the world and those still in Sri Lanka to check on them. Thankfully, everyone was safe. We later learned that her aunt had planned to go to one of the churches that had been attacked but decided instead to go to one closer to home, a decision that likely saved her life.
Throughout the day Erandhi received messages of love and support from our family and friends who just wanted to say they were thinking of her and hoping that all was well. It meant a lot to her that so many people remembered her and the impact something like this could have on someone.
At Mass that morning prayers were said for those killed in Sri Lanka reminding me that even in a small community here in Oregon, thousands of miles away from the violence, our hearts were connected to those who were killed and those suffering from losing a loved one. Erandhi and I said a personal prayer as well for those affected by this tragedy, but also for those who committed this terrible violence.
Having spent many years working for a culture of nonviolence with Pace e Bene, senseless acts of cruelty like this remind me how much an act of violence can reverberate throughout the world. Violence shocks the senses and instills fear within one’s body and society as a whole. Violence in itself is an act of fear and cowardice, but we know that we have options besides violence. Nonviolence is an act of love and courage. It too can reverberate around the world and beyond, we’re just not always aware of it. Single acts of kindness, compassion, generosity and love can travel deep in the heart, a place sometimes harder to reach than anywhere else on our planet.
Going forward, I pray that the people of Sri Lanka and all those affected by violence can find their own inner nonviolence to continue to build a society that they’ve been working on for ten years after their civil war. Having spent time there, I know what a beautiful country and what beautiful people they all are. They will rise from this and maybe teach all of us the deeper message of that Easter Sunday, new life and hope will have the final say.
Fethullah Gulen’s Statement on Violent Attacks in Sri Lanka
As Pacifica Institute, we extend our deepest condolences for the horror that happened at Sri Lanka which targeted the worshippers in their safe haven. We condemn this heinous attack and pray for the souls of the victims. May this tragic event strengthen our solidarity, and commitment to peace, love, and respect.
Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condemnation and Condolences for Sri Lanka Explosions
I was shocked and deeply saddened by the devastating news of explosions in Sri Lanka that killed more than 200 and left at least 450 wounded. I firmly condemn this horrific attack, which turned a day meant for the celebration of Easter by Christians around the world into bloodshed.
Nobody should have any doubt that these senseless attacks are not aimed at Sri Lankan people or Christians, but at all humanity. They are meant to add another incident to the cycle of violence that target peace, tranquility and solidarity of humanity.
In the wake of this heartbreaking tragedy, we should remember that every human is created with dignity by God and every human life is equally valuable. I hope and pray that this tragic incident urges us to foster dialogue, mutual respect and internalization of our common humanity, and rehabilitate those whose lives are driven by hate. I also hope and pray that humanity can come together to marginalize and eventually root out all totalitarian ideologies that use violence as a weapon.
I extend my heartfelt condolences to families and relatives of the victims and to the people of Sri Lanka and offer my prayers for fast recovery to those who were wounded. I pray to God that people will be able to congregate in places of worship and join in celebration without fear of being targeted, and this tragic incident becomes a distant memory in the pages of history without being repeated.
— Fethullah Gülen
About Alliance for Shared Values
The Alliance for Shared Values (AFSV) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves as a voice for cultural organizations affiliated with Hizmet, a civil society movement inspired by prominent preacher and peace advocate Fethullah Gülen. The Alliance strives to promote peace and social harmony by helping reduce misinformation and false stereotypes about any or all ethnic, cultural and religious communities. To learn more about the Alliance, please visit www.afsv.org.
Tri City Interfaith Council’s statement:
The Tri-City Interfaith Council stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka in the wake of the devastating terrorist attacks on Sunday, April 21, when many of the targeted victims were celebrating Easter. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of all those whose lives were taken and our healing prayers for those recovering from injuries.
We are appalled that yet another attack targeted people during worship, a time of particular spiritual and physical vulnerability. No person, of any faith, should be fearful in their place of worship. We stand united, across religious, faith, and spiritual traditions against such violence and will continue our work to promote the light of interreligious cooperation instead of the deep darkness of interreligious hatred and violence.
We are reminded of the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the descending spiral of violence:
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence, you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence, you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.”
[From “Where Do We Go From Here?” as published in, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?(1967), p. 62.
The work of interfaith cooperation and understanding is more important than ever, and we renew our commitment to advancing peace, justice, and love in our world.