Dear President Trump
By Rev. Ed Bacon, Rabbi Ken Chasen and Imam Jihad Turk
Dear President Trump,
As cherished friends and leaders in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities, we join in offering you our greatest wishes for healing our fractured nation as you embark on your term as our country’s 45th president.
We express these wishes jointly because we are unbreakably unified partners in faith and members of three religious communities across America who know that we are united by far more than that which separates us.
As you know, there is presently very little agreement on much of anything across the political spectrum in the United States. One thing, however, does unite the overwhelming majority of Americans — our collective deep lament over the unusually inflammatory campaign that ended in November. The campaign was especially painful for our nation’s religious people, who celebrate the foundational teaching that every human being, without exception, embodies the spark of the Divine.
We are relieved that the campaign is over. As our president, the mantle of America’s leadership is yours for the next four years. Given the deep divides that presently exist across our land, you have an unprecedented opportunity to be an agent of reconciliation and love in a time of escalating anger and hatred. If you embrace that opportunity, your chapter in the great American story will be one of groundbreaking national transformation and heroic healing.
After all that you have accomplished in your life, you now have the chance as our president to win the love, respect and enduring gratitude of our entire nation and an anxious world. You will be remembered for all time by how you meet this moment. Your presidency will dwarf even your enormous worldwide business presence in determining your legacy and your place in the American heart and memory.
What will your place in the American heart and memory be?
Citizens and residents across the United States, of all faiths, races and cultures, are praying that you will gain a lasting place of honor and admiration in our hearts by helping us all to repair the rifts revealed and wrought by the campaign. This will require you to lead us in building both economic prosperity and social harmony. It is time for us to bridge the national fissures that have widened during the past months, and your leadership, through word and deed, will either advance or obstruct that progress for us all.
We Americans don’t expect that we will always agree on matters of policy. We do, however, expect that the treasured democratic ideals upon which our nation was founded will remain the great light that we bring to each other and the world.
We expect that our country’s organizing premise, that all human beings are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, will govern the manner in which we speak to each other and treat each other.
We expect that our country’s hallowed constitutional freedom of religion, which has established America as an exemplar to the world, will never be compromised.
We expect that our freedom of the press, ordained by America’s founders, will be savored and protected, ensuring the transparency which is owed to the people.
We expect that our freedom to assemble peaceably, either in support of or in opposition to statements and actions of our government, will be preserved and honored as a staple of our way of life.
We expect that the rights of those always most at risk, both in the United States and throughout the world — women, children, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ individuals, and the economically disenfranchised — will not be subjugated by those who possess power, wealth and influence.
We expect that every episode of hate speech and hate crime will be met with unequivocal repudiation by our leaders, guaranteeing that those who would undermine America’s humanity will never be normalized.
As a nation of immigrants, we are all descendants of loved ones who came to these shores in pursuit of these sacred values. Most of our ancestors fled violations of these principles at great risk to their lives. We are all here because of their sacrifices, and we will honor that blessing with our very lives.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu taught: “Your ordinary acts of love and hope point to the extraordinary promise that every human life is of inestimable value.”
Rabbi Hillel taught: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the entire Torah. All the rest is commentary; go and learn.”
The prophet Muhammad taught: “The faithful love for others what they love for themselves.”
All humans hunger to love and to be loved. We do. You do, as well. A combative campaign has tarnished the loving nature of our nation, but you can win an everlasting place of honor in history by restoring it. This is what we wish for you and for us. To this we will devote our voices, our actions, our lives.
May God guide you, and may God guide the United States of America.
Rev. Ed Bacon is Rector Emeritus of All Saints Church in Pasadena, California.
Rabbi Ken Chasen is Senior Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, California.
Imam Jihad Turk is President of Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School in Claremont, California.