A Call to Rise Against Faith-Based Hate in Pierce County

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This petition invites public commitment to a statement initially signed by a group of 39 faith and community leaders following on a hate-fueled vandalism and verbal assault on Chùa Phước Huệ Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Center, reported in the Tacoma News Tribune on Friday, June 22, 2018.  The vandal is specifically referenced by investigators as having invoked his faith as a cause for his action. (http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/crime/article213666464.html )  This petition recognizes that this is just one in an ongoing history of incidents of bias and hate in our area, and we hope to use this moment to begin inviting all of us into ongoing commitments to resist using faith as a weapon for such attacks.

The statement reads:

June 25, 2018

Tacoma, Washington


Dear Members of the Tacoma and Pierce County Communities,

We write as people of faith and conscience from the greater Tacoma area to offer a strong and public condemnation of the hateful beliefs and actions which targeted the Chùa Phước Huệ Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Center as reported in the Tacoma News Tribune on Friday, June 21, 2018.  The fact that the person arrested in this case chose to invoke his faith as a Christian as a part of his racist and anti-Buddhist attack on our neighbors demands that we speak out. 

To those who are a part of the Chùa Phước Huệ Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Center, and the broader community of both Vietnamese and Buddhist neighbors, we offer our grief and our support to you, and our condemnation of the hateful acts of this individual.

To be clear: the use of faith to attack others is abhorrent and offensive to us as local faith leaders.   This incident occurs amidst rising national tides of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and anti-immigrant bigotry, a context that makes it critical that we invite all people to rise up against any use of faith to inspire violence and hate.  We call upon the people of Tacoma and Pierce County to join us in committing anew to create a community in which all people, of all faiths and cultures, are welcome as neighbors and friends.  We call upon the people of Tacoma and Pierce County to work with us to create a community in which hate crimes such as this are not only unacceptable but are eradicated from our region.  This is an aspirational and challenging set of invitations, but we hope and trust our community can rise to this moment.

Those of us who are Christian particularly grieve the beliefs voiced by the individual who committed this attack, and reject those beliefs and his action as un-Christian and antithetical to the faith as we understand it.  We call upon all Christian clergy and preachers to be mindful of the ways in which the power of our words can inspire individuals to act out in hate and violence.  We call upon all our siblings in Christ, persons of all denominations and churches, to commit to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to remember the many teachings across the arc of the Christian Bible that direct us to offer love, generosity, and hospitality to immigrants and strangers in our communities.

We invite people of all faiths and spiritualities, all people of good will and care from the full and wonderful breadth of our community, to join us in affirming this statement and these calls to inclusion and care for all people in our community.

With great respect and care,

  • Rev. Dave Wright, United Methodist clergy, affiliated with Immanuel Presbyterian Church and Mason United Methodist Church
  • Rev. Christy Fisher, Executive Director, Tacoma College Ministries
  • Rev. Dave Brown, Pastor, Immanuel Presbyterian Church
  • Rev. Sarah Wiles, Pastor, Bethany Presbyterian Church
  • Mike Yoder, Executive Director, Associated Ministries
  • Turan Kayoglu, Professor and Advisor to the Muslim Student Association, UW-Tacoma
  • Rev. Linda Hart, Minister, Tahoma Unitarian Universalist Association
  • Megan Kilpatrick, ARNP-CNS, MSN, AOCNS, Mason United Methodist Church
  • Renee Meschi, Harvest Pierce County Program Coordinator, Pierce Conservation District
  • Bishop Rick Jaech, Southwestern Washington Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Rachel DeMotts, Tacoma Shambhala Meditation Group
  • Takashi Miyaji, Minister, Tacoma Buddhist Temple
  • Kevin Glackin Coley, Director, St. Leo’s Food Connection
  • Sandy Widley, Interfaith Engagement, Associated Ministries
  • Skylar Bihl, Laity, First United Methodist Church of Olympia
  • Rev. Jen Rude, University Pastor, Pacific Lutheran University
  • Melanie Denise Cunningham, Greater Tacoma Peace Laureate
  • Olivia Wilhite, Director of Youth, Children and Family Ministries, Immanuel Presbyterian Church
  • Dr. Michael Benitez, Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, University of Puget Sound
  • Rev. Karen Yokota Love, Mason United Methodist Church
  • Rev. Jenny Rake-Marona, PC(USA) Honorably Retired
  • Kristina Sinks, Senior Interfaith Coordinator for Christian Life, University of Puget Sound
  • Aneelah Afzali, Executive Director, MAPS-AMEN (American Muslim Empowerment Network)
  • Rabbi Bruce Kadden, Temple Beth El
  • Rev. Nancy Gowler, Minister, First Christian Church of Puyallup
  • Rev. Karin Van Vlack, Zen Buddhist chaplain and lay member of Tahoma UU Congregation
  • Rev. Barbara Blaisdell, Senior Pastor, First Christian Church of Tacoma
  • Rev Jo Dene Romeijn-Stout, Sunrise United Methodist Church, Federal Way
  • Jasmin Samy, Executive Director, CAIR-Washington
  • Barbara Gorzinski, Chair, Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission, St. Leo’s Catholic Parish, Tacoma, WA
  • Rachelle Wilson, First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ
  • Elise DeGooyer, Co-Director, Faith Action Network
  • Rev. Paul Benz, Co-Director, Faith Action Network
  • Allison Shapiro, President, Jewish Student Union, University of Puget Sound
  • The Islamic Center of Tacoma, Br. Marotha Pasha
  • Rachel Haxtema, Pastoral Intern, Bethany Presbyterian Church
  • Jefferson Mok, City of Tacoma Commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
  • The Rev. Martin Yabroff, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Tacoma
  • The Rev. Nathan Sutton, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 


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