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Statement on Brussels Violence
Religions for Peace USA
March 23, 2016

On behalf of all our member communions across the country, and together with leaders from every religion around the world, we of Religions for Peace USA express our grief and send our support to the people of Belgium in the aftermath of the horrible crimes committed against them this week in Brussels. To inflict such violence and murder on defenseless people is utterly contemptible, and any attempt to justify such actions, especially in the name of religion, is an assault on all our religions.  We are dismayed that there has become a tragic, senseless pattern to such actions, and we again lift our voices with the world-wide call for it to end–and end now.

We recognize that some people who commit such acts claim to be acting out of political and religious justifications.   As religious people committed to peace, we understand that there are places in the world where military, governmental and economic powers are used unjustly, and we further recognize that these policies and actions are indeed subject to the same moral and religious critiques as the actions of individuals and groups.   But regardless of who commits them, acts of murder and violence against defenseless people can never be justified.

We also reject all statements that incite hatred or suspicion toward innocent members of any nation or religion, or that call for the torture of prisoners, or which encourage heartless and indiscriminate hostility toward refugees and other defenseless people who are fleeing deadly violence.  Attacking, harassing or slandering innocent neighbors in response to the violent actions of other people only spreads and deepens the existing pain.  Let us instead call on the best in ourselves and in each other, especially in the most difficult moments.  For it is in the difficult moments that we see our true character most clearly, and what our deepest values truly teach us about the words and actions we choose.

We appeal to people of goodwill everywhere to turn back these waves of violence and hatred with the deeply held and widely shared religious and human values that hold us together in the spiritual truth of one humanity living as neighbors in peace and justice on this one fragile planet.

We of Religions for Peace USA pledge our efforts to bring peace wherever we can, especially for those who need it most.  Where there is hurt, let us all work for healing.  Where there is injustice, let us stand together and seek courageous wisdom to resolve it.

Whenever we fail to do that, we are all diminished, and the very heart of life, divine and human, is grieved and wounded.  But whenever we risk putting our hands to the work of opening doors to peace and new faithfulness toward each other, we are all blessed and the power of divine hope shines like the rising dawn.

Despite the bitterness of the moment, let us turn toward each other as fellow human beings, bind up all wounds and commit afresh to do our part for better days of peace and justice ahead.  Even in such difficult moments, let us not allow our fears and despair to drag one another and the world deeper into the midnight of suffering and hate.  Let us rise up with courage and determination to end one another’s suffering, protect each other’s humanity and dignity, and walk together toward the dawn of a better world for all.