This quote from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism on the 8th Commandment came to my mind this morning upon learning that the President of the United States of America retweeted a deceitful video from an anti-Muslim hate group in the UK this morning.
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way. – Luther’s Small Catechism
This group and a group of anti-Muslim hate groups in the US bear false witness against our Muslim neighbors each day. They falsely equate the worst actions of those who self-identify as Muslims with Islam and the vast majority of Muslims. They do not judge Christianity by the horrific actions of white supremacists or white nationalists who self identify as Christian. These groups are bearing false witness against our Muslim neighbors. These groups are breaking the 8th commandment not by accident, but on purpose – bearing false witness is their strategy.
These groups also undermine our American values. They are seeking to divide US citizens from one another by lies and through fear. They spend $30 million dollars per year to do so. By seeking to diminish the civil and religious liberties of Muslims they diminish these liberties for all. Rights are not rights unless they are for everyone. These groups not only break commandments they profess to uphold, their actions undermine our constitutionally enshrined rights while they salute the flag.
Today, the President of the United States and his spokesperson lent the credibility of his office to these hate groups and to their message.
We know where this kind of hate speech goes. We know what happens when a group of people are dehumanized. We have seen this playbook before.
We are calling for people of faith to speak out against the President’s words and the hate groups he advances and to stand with our Muslim neighbors – doing so because it expresses our deepest values as people of faith.
We are calling for American citizens to speak out against the statements and policies of the office of the President of the United States that seek to demonize our fellow American Muslim citizens – doing so because it expresses our deepest values as a nation.
We do not have walk down the road of hate again.
Together we can build a more perfect union – not just a union of states but a union of diverse people who together are respected parts of the greater whole.