Nine years after Sept. 11, religious leaders from three faiths came together Saturday morning to celebrate their similarities and show respect for each other’s differences.
“All of us here are three branches of one family,” said Moussa Elbayoumy with the Islamic Center of Lawrence. “It is a family like any other family. It has the good and the not-so-good.”
Members of the Christian, Jewish and Islamic communities gathered Saturday in Lawrence to show solidarity in response to threats from Florida pastor the Rev. Terry Jones to burn the Quran on Sept. 11. Jones called off his plans, but Lawrence residents gathered anyway.
“This is an opportunity to show that there are a lot more people that are united in faith, united in peace,” Elbayoumy said.
Well over a hundred people gathered around the steps of the Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt., to hear the religious leaders speak.
Simone Huls said she came to keep the principle of religious freedom alive.
“It’s a basic ideal that is the foundation of this country. If we don’t come together to support that, if we turn the other way and ignore this, then we are supporting the bigotry and ignorance,” she said.
The Rev. Peter Luckey, senior pastor at Plymouth, also spoke of religious freedom and protecting the books of other faiths.
“We cannot have sacred texts being burned. We will not sit back and allow that to happen. That is why we are here today,” he said to applause.
The Rev. Jill Jarvis, of Unitarian Fellowship, acknowledged that while the religions represented on the steps of the church Saturday shared common ground, they also are very different.
“The fearmongers would have us see those differences as threats,” she said.
In Lawrence, religious acceptance is common, but that is not the case for much of the state and country, Jarvis said and urged the crowd not to become complacent or look the other way.
“We do not have to think alike, we do not have to believe alike, but we have to love alike,” she said.