Faith Leaders Mourn Victims of Mosque Attacks in New Zealand & Recommit to Taking Action Against All Forms of Anti-Muslim Violence

March 15, 2019

For immediate release:

Contact: Dr. Catherine Orsborn, Executive Director, Shoulder to Shoulder,

Shoulder to Shoulder mourns the 49 victims of the horrific anti-Muslim attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, an atrocious act of violence committed against a people of faith in the midst of their Friday prayers. As we pray for the families and loved ones of those impacted in New Zealand, we recognize the urgent need to continue tirelessly working in our communities to ensure the safety those impacted by anti-Muslim violence across the globe and here in the United States. We recommit to advancing Shoulder to Shoulder’s mission of directly engaging faith leaders in the United States to be strategic partners in countering discrimination and violence against Muslims, taking a firm stand against Islamophobia, xenophobia, and white supremacy fueled by racism and hate.

We call on all people of faith and goodwill to listen to those impacted by anti-Muslim bigotry, get educated on the issues, contact your local mosque or Muslim, Arab, Sikh, or South Asian organization and show your solidarity through word and action. We call on our nation’s elected officials to denounce hate speech and violence in every form.

Tayyab Yunus, Executive Director of the Islamic Society of North America, says, “In the face of hate, what we need is communities coming together as one humanity for a better world. The best that we can do as one humanity is to go out and do something good. Showing up with others for social good is the living message that will counter hate and bring to life a better world.”

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism writes, “The massacre in Christchurch pierces our hearts to the very core. To murder people in the midst of worship is the epitome of evil. As we mourn this senseless loss of life, we hold our Muslim family in our hearts and commit to stand with them during this painful time. This violence against minority communities, fueled by anti-Muslim and white supremacist rhetoric, is not new. This horrendous attack on a place of worship represents the darkest forces of humanity, which have been emboldened by a global rise of a grotesque ideology demonizing those who are different.”

The Rev’d Margaret R. Rose of The Episcopal Church writes, “Now more than ever is the time to be allies with our Muslim neighbors here and far away. We are called to actions of solidarity and healing: praying, marching, policy making, countering hate by walking in the way of love that encompasses every human being. The Episcopal Church joins with Shoulder to Shoulder in this work.”

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shared, “We will not be silent in the face of Islamophobia, racial hatred and violence. Every house of worship should be a safe place of worship, theological reflection, hope and healing. When one faith community is attacked, we are all attacked. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” Our Christian faith and Lutheran teaching calls us to strive for a greater understanding, relationship and cooperation that will lead to justice, peace and life abundant, which God intends for us all.”

Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, responded to the New Zealand attacks in saying, “I see it as my responsibility to the Islamic community to be at the forefront of battling Islamophobia and any attack or form of bigotry against the Islamic faith and Muslims. I stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters and condemn in the strongest terms the attacks which took place at Al Noor Mosque and at Linwood Mosque in New Zealand. We must stand together against Islamophobia.”

To take action in your communities today and beyond, we encourage you to:

  • Show up to be in solidarity with Muslims during Friday Prayers today and onward. Listen & learn. Please note: we strongly recommend you ask first before showing up and to work together so as not to add anxiety to a tense and deeply painful time
  • Use the hashtag #ShouldertoShoulder to show a united trend of interfaith allies and people of goodwill coming together to stand in solidarity with their Muslim neighbors
  • Consider donating to this campaign by Masjid At Taqwa / New Zealand Islamic Centre through LaunchGood

Please see growing list of denominational and organizational member statements:

National Council of Churches

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

United Church of Christ

Sisters of Mercy

Evangelical Lutheran Church of America

Christian Reformed Church of North America

American Baptist Churches, USA


Shoulder to Shoulder is a coalition of 34 national religious denominations and faith-based organizations dedicated to addressing and opposing anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States.

Shoulder to Shoulder Camp

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Shoulder to Shoulder is a coalition of 34 religious denominations and organizations committed to standing with American Muslims to advance American ideals

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