ISSUE | CULTURAL TOLERANCE

Speak up against hateful acts and rhetoric

On behalf of the Unitarian Universalist Clergy of Greater Philadelphia, we condemn the proliferation of hateful speech and actions directed at members of the Muslim community. We find the recent desecration of the Al Aqsa Islamic Society's mosque in North Philadelphia particularly abhorrent ("Pig's head left at N. Phila. mosque," Dec. 8).

Our faith proclaims the inherent worth and dignity of each person and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. We value the wide diversity of religious beliefs held by others and oppose any attempt to limit or undermine the religious practices of any faith tradition.

The rhetoric in our public square has become increasingly divisive and virulent. We urge all Pennsylvanians to actively oppose efforts to demean or degrade the members of any religious or ethnic group. It is our duty as Americans, regardless of faith or creed, to speak up and speak out against those who seek to demonize an entire people.

During this season of hope and light, may we all extend ourselves in kindness, generosity, and hospitality. May we open our hearts and our minds to all those we encounter, whether or not they share our beliefs. Let us seek within our diversity a unity that binds us together as an open, inclusive, and civil society.

|Rev. Kent Matthies, Unitarian Society of Germantown, Mount Airy;

Rev. Peter Friedrichs, Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County, Media; and Rev. Ken Beldon, Wellsprings Congregation, Exton

Immigration ban would dishonor heroes

If there were only one Muslim American service member buried in Arlington National Cemetery, that would be more than enough to make support of a ban on Muslims entering the country a disgrace. But you can find crescents among the crosses and Stars of David in military cemeteries across this country.

To suggest that all people of a certain religion should be banned from the United States because they belong to that religion dishonors the ultimate sacrifice of the hero. For any politician who has never put his or her life on the line for this country to suggest such an act is an obscenity.

The service member's oath states: "I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. . . . " The First Amendment forbids Congress from promoting one religion over others or restricting an individual's religious practices. Using religious affiliation as a litmus test for entry into the counry and banning people based on their religious beliefs violates that amendment. It qualifies the promoter as a domestic enemy of the Constitution that the deceased military member vowed, even to death, to defend.

|Steve Nolan, Newtown