Stated Clerk responds to the creation of ‘Muslim-free Zones’

August 6, 2015


With every act of violence in the U.S., whether at a church, a military recruiting station, or a movie theatre, we revisit the possibility of yet another incident, carried out by armed, sometimes unstable or radicalized individuals, whose goal is to murder large numbers of people in public places. That fear is exacerbated by daily news of murderous acts by Islamic State, al Qaeda, and other groups that are trying to recruit followers across the globe, including from our own communities.

One of the latest manifestations of fear of such violence is the creation of “Muslim-free zones” by business owners in several states, including Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas, and New Hampshire. One gun store owner in New York marked his shop a “Muslim-Free Gun Store.”

In defense of his decision, he told WNYT of Albany, New York: “My Facebook post, I thought about this and said well, there’s only one organization that is advocating for the killing of Americans, trying to get local homegrown terrorists, and somewhat succeeding. They’re not Canadians. They’re not French. They’re Muslims.

The creation of “Muslim-free Zones,” and the rhetoric of fear that accompanies them, clearly stereotypes and punishes all Muslims on the basis of actions of a very small minority of the Muslim population.

As Presbyterians, we have consistently affirmed the provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that makes it a crime for any place of “public accommodation” to deny service to anyone based on religion, race, color, or national origin; moreover, with respect to our relationships with people of other faiths, we have made every effort to nurture our relations with Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and others whose faith traditions are not our own.

We stand with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate these growing manifestations of racism and fear and assure our Muslim friends and colleagues of our solidarity with them as together we face this challenge of anti-Islamic behavior.

  1. Thank you Gradye for your leadership in this letter, I taught a course this Spring in our Church on the theological similarities and differences between Muslims and Christians and explored a lot of facts and perspectives on Muslims. Fact out of 1.7 to 2 billion Muslims in the world, 1 to 2 million are radicalized and advocate for the "Lesser Jihad" which is the militarized response(that is about 1 percent of all Muslims.) If we don't make that distinction and further polarize the rest of the Muslims out of our own fear and ignorance, we will have a very serious problem on our hands. The way of Christ is to build bridges of dialogue and trust with the vast majority of Muslim believers.

    by Kevin E Frederick

    August 13, 2015

  2. It's important that we distinguish between the ideology of Islam on the one hand and all Muslims on the other. Islamic doctrine calls for such human rights abuses as: death to apostates; no penalty for killing their offspring or their offspring's offspring or, for that matter for killing non-Muslims. Islam separates the world into two parts: the believer and the non-believer, and the two are treated by Muslims very differently. In Islamic theology, Jesus is a Muslim whose role in End Times is to kill all non-Muslims who refuse to convert to Islam. The goal, in fact, of Islam is to rid the world of non-Muslims by converting, enslaving (via dhimmitude) or killing them. Yet the Christian churches run to embrace them and their religion (which is the least tolerant one I've ever heard of). Please read the Quran, Sira and Hadith, all of which are the basis for Islam. Bill Warner of CSPI has a huge array of books which explain these works. If you have not taken the time to study Islam, you are part of the problem. Do I blame all Muslims? Not at all. If you were born into Islam, but didn't want to be Muslim, would you have the courage to face a death penalty for trying to leave? We need to stand with those Muslims who are victimized by their own religion (women and gays come to mind), while we condemn those who try to force it on the rest of us.

    by Jane Bate

    August 8, 2015

  3. The largest number of victims of gun-violence in America have not come from Muslims radicalized. We might be surprised by how many of our ordinary neighbors are gun owners.

    by Robert Foltz-Morrison

    August 8, 2015

  4. This is a sadly misguided statement. Please re-read the gun store owner's statement as quoted by Gradye to demonstrate "the latest manifestation of fear." There is no hint of fear in that statement, only the recognition that the terrorism threatening this world is largely from Islamic sources. The businesses declaring themselves "Muslim-free zones" are to my knowledge all gun stores, and they are making the point that they do not want to sell to a group whose religion commits loyal followers to support jihad. Gradye acknowledges that not only ISIS and al-Qaeda, but "...other groups that are trying to recruit followers across the globe." I would ask him if he is willing to describe those other groups as Muslim. If not, he is being disingenuous. Lastly, Gradye mentions how the PCUSA has striven " nurture our relations with Muslims, Jews, Sikhs...", etc. One of the fundamental problems with the PCUSA today, in my opinion, is that mainline American Christians are much more focused on being liked by those of other faiths than we are on presenting the gospel to them in love, seeking their salvation through Christ alone.

    by Mateen

    August 7, 2015

  5. I am very Happy that Presbyterian Church, took a stand against bigots and racists , God Bless Folks who are following his message. LOVE YOU NEIGHBORS and Enemies . We are all Gods Children

    by JoJo Garcia

    August 7, 2015

  6. Two thumbs up for this statement. Now, how do we feel about marriage equality?

    by Garrick

    August 7, 2015

  7. How many of the recent killers were "christian"; don't understand why there should be any "... free zone" except for entire nation being "gun free" except when properly unsed for hunting & law enforcement. Thanks national church for this response.

    by Bonnie Ruggiero

    August 7, 2015

  8. Thank you, Gradye and all in Louisville who work so hard to lead the PCUSA's commitment to reconciliation.

    by Glyndon Morris

    August 7, 2015

  9. God bless all decent people in our precious world who stand up for common decency and do not blame the whole for the sins of some evil people who claim to be acting in the name of God, when actually they are the most vile non-religious immoral people on the face of the earth. Thank you Presbyterian Church. God bless. Muslims don't belong to so-called ISIS. They have no right to call themselves Islamic. Their actions have nothing to do with Islam.

    by Anisa

    August 6, 2015

  10. Bravo, Gradye! You speak for all of us once again! Right on!

    by Bob Stoddard

    August 6, 2015

  11. Great statement. We are all children of God, there are more similarities than differences. I cringe when I hear people stereotype others. If you get to know a few Muslims as I have done, they have similar values to ourselves. Similar misinformation has been spread about other minorities in the past, that they have a goal to destabilize us. It's simply untrue, the vast majority have very similar aspirations to support their family and contribute to society.

    by John Murphy

    August 6, 2015

  12. I understand your commitment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but for you to stand with the anti-Semitic, terrorist-supporting Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, Council on American Islamic Relations, is a disgrace!

    by Abdul Ameer

    August 6, 2015

  13. I am a Muslim and I love the Presbyterian Church USA. Thank you!

    by Susan Smith

    August 6, 2015

  14. I'm proud to be affiliated with this gracious stand.

    by Barbara Kellam-Scott

    August 6, 2015

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