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An Open Letter to WFU in Support of Pro Humanitate & Imam Griggs

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Dear President Hatch and the Wake Forest Administration,

Wake Forest University alumni are writing this open letter in response to the ongoing attacks from a small group of alumni over the past couple of years, exemplified in the hateful, bigoted, and Islamophobic character assassination published in a Winston-Salem Journal ad on Monday, May 21st. The ad accuses Imam Griggs of being a Shariah law supremacist and insinuates that he encourages Muslims to form terrorist cells. These accusations are so unfounded that we will not legitize them with a response. Rather, we will remind you of how vital Imam Griggs is to our community and the harm such attacks do to WFU diversity and our pro humanitate principles.

In the fall of 2010, Imam Griggs was hired as Associate Chaplain for Muslim life. Soon thereafter the University hired an Associate Chaplain for Jewish life. We, as alumni, were proud of our university for continuing to create and provide safe spaces for the diverse members of the Wake Forest community.

In 1986, the Baptist leadership of WFU separated from the State Baptist Convention of North Carolina because they were inspired by their faith to examine, study, and understand ideas, lifestyles, and principles different from our own. They understood that in order to achieve this, students must be able to build mutually enriching relationships across race, religion, and creed. Our aim is to build a campus that fosters such diversity.

Imam Griggs is a tremendous asset to WFU and the broader Winston-Salem community. Locally, he is the founder and Senior Imam of the Community Mosque (est. 1984) and is a founding member and primary leader of the highly awarded CHANGE organization, building bridges across the community. As father-in-law to Darryl Hunt, he was a powerful and positive voice in one of the most racially charged death row cases of the past 30 years. Imam Griggs is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of World Religions, the largest multi-faith organization in the world. He regularly speaks nationally and internationally about Islam, social justice, and inter-faith cooperation, and has received numerous awards for his work on behalf of Muslims, interfaith cooperation, and the disinherited everywhere. Imam Grigg’s faith inspires him to participate in developing communities that are pluralistic, where spaces are created for persons of all backgrounds to take initiative and build the beloved community.

Imam Grigg’s leadership and example serve as powerful reminders that building community requires creating spaces in which all can have dignity and thrive. WFU’s decision to hire Imam Griggs was a recognition of his achievements and dedication to building such a space. In turn, Imam Griggs has continued to honor and strengthen the pro humanitate principles of our Baptist leaders and help make cooperation amongst all segments of WFU’s community a social norm.

The WFU alumni recognize that a character assassination of Imam Grigg’s undermines the core values of Wake Forest and our liberal arts education. We wish that the University continue in its tradition of pro humanitate, continue to promote its efforts in diversity and inclusion, safeguard all staff and students from unfounded external accusations or threats, and provide the safety, security, and peace of mind that Imam Griggs needs to continue to flourish as Associate Chaplain of Muslim Life at WFU.

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