Philadelphia Interfaith Walk Supports Park 51

As members of the Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation, we write to express our strongest support for the construction of Park51, previously known as Cordoba  House, a community center and mosque to be located near the site of the former World Trade Center. For seven years now, members of the Peace Walk-Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and Buddhists, among others-have gathered monthly at the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society in North Philadelphia to learn and draw strength from each other as we work toward a more peaceful world. Our Muslim brothers and sisters at Al-Aqsa and elsewhere have been gracious hosts and models for the open-mindedness, peacefulness, and compassion at the heart of their faith. Those same values are evident in those who seek to found Park51. According to its own vision, it plans to be a “center for multifaith dialogue and engagement.” One of the leaders of the proposal, Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf, has justly been recognized as a courageous and eloquent leader in improving relations between Islam and other faiths.

More (including list of co-signers) after the jump.
We, too, feel the lingering trauma of 9/11. We continue to mourn the victims, including the many Muslims killed and wounded. We unequivocally denounce the attackers’ perversion of a holy faith shared by a billion people, just as we denounce all violence that profanes the name of God. But it is precisely for these reasons that we support the construction of Cordoba House, along with Mayor Bloomberg, President Obama, many survivors of 9/11 and their families, and the majority of those who actually live in Manhattan.

The question is not simply whether the groups sponsoring Park51 have a right to build it. The Constitution makes it clear that they do, though we are dismayed that some would question it or even argue, as has one prominent commentator, that no more mosques should be built anywhere in the United States. The question is whether this center should be built in this place. Our answer: An unequivocal yes. This mosque and community center will build bridges among various faiths (just as we seek to do in the Peace Walk). In doing so, Park51 will concretely and symbolically reject the evil aims of those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and their allies. It will be a sign of our resilience. It will promote something even better than tolerance­-mutual understanding and a celebration of differences as well as commonalities. In other words, it will
embody our nation’s unofficial motto: E Pluribus Unum, “Out of many, one.” We can’t think of anything more American than that. We also can’t think of a better way to honor the image of
God in all of us.


(affiliations listed for identification purposes only)

Ronald Abrams, Mishkan Shalom
Margarita (Miriam) Abuawadeh, Al-aqsa Islamic Society
Anthony Brummans, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church
Vic Compher, Tabernacle United Church
Edd Conboy, Broad Street Ministry
Patricia Coyne, Peace Walk
Katy Friggle-Norton, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Ayala Guy, Peace Walk
Peter Handler, Mishkan Shalom
Adab Ibrahim, Al-Aqsa Islamic Society
Wilson Kratz, Chestnut Hill United Church
Lance Laver, Mishkan Shalom
Brenda Lazin, Mishkan Shalom
James McGovern, Catholic Peace Fellowship
Neomosha Nelson, Metropolitan Christian Council of Philadelphia
Steve Newman, Mishkan Shalom
Douglas Norton, Central Baptist Church
Ruthy Lachman Paul, Peace Walk
Peter Pedemonti, New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia
Jeanne Swartz, Peace Walk
Linda Toia, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
Rev. Frank P. Toia, priest, Episcopal Church
Ayesha Weinberg, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship
Justina Wiggins, Mirabilia Circle
Pecki Witonsky, Peace Walk
Pam Yaller, Upper Dublin Friends Meeting



  1. Publisher says

    Local man Scott Gentries told reporters Wednesday that his deliberately limited grasp of Islamic history and culture was still more than sufficient to shape his views of the entire Muslim world.
    Gentries, 48, said he had absolutely no interest in exposing himself to further knowledge of Islamic civilization or putting his sweeping opinions into a broader context of any kind, and confirmed he was “perfectly happy” to make a handful of emotionally charged words the basis of his mistrust toward all members of the world’s second-largest religion.

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