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Linda Stuhlman writes that I, “a writer for religioussocialism.org,” helped organize an event that inappropriately used town property for religious purpose.
Linda, thank you for mentioning Religious Socialism, the work of which I’m most proud. I am a socialist because Jesus calls us to love everyone as He loved us. I want the people I love to have health care and security in their old age.
In addition to secular publications like The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, I’ve written for Catholic Digest, America, St. Anthony Messenger magazine and Ligourian, have been honored by the Catholic Press Association and was anthologized in a collection of modern Catholic writers. I am not inclined to convert people to Islam. I wanted to learn about a faith too often reduced to a negative stereotype. I wanted to better understand Muslims, people with whom I share this planet, country and even this town. I wanted to be a better neighbor, which is much like being a better Christian.
If you’d attended, you would have seen that there was no prayer or proselytizing. Zahra Tariq did a wonderful job of dispelling misconceptions about Islam and answering common questions about things like dress and history.
You note that the sponsoring organization of the event is located in Bridgeport. RYASAP is home to the statewide Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, which I’ve worked with for a dozen years. Children are the group whose human rights are most often violated, which is why it was appropriate for the Alliance to sponsor an International Human Rights Day event. I told the 70 folks who attended the vigil that we’re advocating to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system and in school. The Alliance has played a critical role in decreasing crime in Connecticut while offering youth better futures and saving taxpayer dollars. I should note, though, that I’m writing as an East Haddam resident who cares about working with her neighbors – not as a representative of the Alliance.
On the week of our human rights vigil, at least two events on town property were Christmas-themed. I wonder why you are not writing letters about them. Is your scrupulosity about church/state separation only directed at Islam? If so, I fail to see how your concerns have anything to do with the Constitution.
Finally, you ask why we still gather weekly at the sign outside Two Wrasslin’ Cats. Your letter shows why. Islam arouses unreasoned fear in some. As John 4:18 tells us “… perfect love casts out fear.” We gather at that sign because we are trying to love one another – with “one another” defined as broadly as possible.
There’s plenty of room for you too.