Month: November 2016

Anti-Muslim Extremists

It is very important to check out this page from the Southern Poverty Law Center on Anti-Muslim Extremists.  This page can help you to begin to discern what information you can trust, and what you can’t. It is important that you know there are hate groups spreading false or misleading information on the web. Check out this page and inform yourself.

Another page that helps to visualize the network, funded by millions of dollars per year, that promotes Islamophobia:


American Muslims: Fact vs. Fiction

Bishop Greg Rickel’s Videos in Conversation with Muslims

Love in a Time of Fear: Trinity Lutheran Lynnwood, WA -December 2015

Here are the media links and video for the first Love in a Time of Fear event

Video of the Event:

Audio of the Event

Media After the Event:

Hundreds gather for dialogue on building community, rejecting anti-Muslim rhetoric

Podcast for November 10, 2016


“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify.

Luke 21:5-19

In this text for Pentecost 26, Jesus lets the disciples know being his disciple in a culture of domination will be difficult. Of course, how difficult very much depends on the situation. He encouraged his disciples, in the very bad situation of Roman occupation of Palestine, to see the opportunity to bear witness to God’s vision for the world.

I grew up in eastern Washington and visit there frequently. I know those people pretty well. I know the rage that has been building there and in many places like it for the last 40 years. Jobs leaving. Children leaving. Redneck jokes. Automation coming on fast. The nation saw that rage on Tuesday night.

Of course the feeling of marginalized by one’s nation is not new, it is just rather new to them. Our “more perfect union” has been very imperfect for people of color, Hispanic immigrants, native peoples, the LGBTQ community, Jews, Sikhs and now more than ever Muslims.

The unspoken question in the text for this week is why kings and governors and the major religious powers of the day (which today in the US would be Christian) would care what Jesus’ disciples were doing. We certainly know that most folk in the Pacific Northwest don’t give two hoots about what we are doing.

The answer is in the rest of Luke: Love of neighbor, especially the neighbor who is being marginalized at the moment, while praying for and doing good to those who are doing the marginalizing.

The major thesis of my work with Neighbors in Faith is that we are being invited to rediscover the love of neighbor at the heart of our faith. Love of neighbor is not primarily a feeling, but commitment to the well-being of our neighbors.

Yes, this includes works. Not “works of law”: that is actions that are the result of coercive systems. Not works of “the law”: actions that are the result of the Torah distorted into a coercive system. But yes, works. Otherwise we are a noisy gongs and clanging cymbals.

8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Ephesians 2:8-10

The obvious first thing in being a neighbor is knowing them.

What if some churches included into our regular life, being in a partnership various neighbors?

  • Mosque or Islamic Center
  • Jewish Synagogue
  • Sikh Temple
  • A church in a community of color
  • A church where immigrants gather

Then, if campaign promises come true, we will be able to accompany our neighbors in their struggle for human and civil rights.

The blessing and challenge of being part of a tradition is that we get to look at our past and see how people formed in our tradition acted in other situations. We can learn from the past and choose to live differently this time, as well as saints and sinners can anyway.

The problem with the church in Nazi Germany, says Sam Wells, was not just a failure to act on behalf of the Jews, but a failure to relate to them, to recognize them as neighbors.

The same could be said of the relationship of Christians to the slave trade, the genocide of native peoples, Jim Crow, or the internment of Japanese in the 1940’s.

Even if the situation we are in is not as dire as the one in Jesus’ day or as in Germany in the 1930’s, how about if we don’t make that same mistake again.

We don’t have to be in “full Bonhoeffer alert mode” to be a neighbor.

In my interviews this month you will hear Pastor Joel Langholz from Our Saviour’s Lutheran in Bellingham and then from Imam Benjamin Shabazz from the WD Muhammad Community in Seattle and Amanda Smith, a Muslim from Renton. The three of us were on our way to Bethany Lutheran on Bainbridge Island for a Love in a Time of Fear event there.

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