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Religious Leaders Issue Plea For Peace

All acts of violence are wrong, they say

DAYTON - Love one another.

That was the essence of the message Saturday from community leaders who usually focus on black-white relations and by religious leaders from the Catholic, Muslim, Ba'hai and Quaker faiths.

A small crowd of about 40 people listened to a nonviolence statement written Friday by 60 religious and community leaders, including Jews, who could not attend the ceremony because it was during their Sabbath services.

Dayton Mayor Mike Turner spoke after the pledge was read, and thanked the folks for their work, but distanced himself from the last phrase: "making peace, not war."

"We all support seeking justice," he said.

But he emphatically agreed that making scapegoats of local residents who are perceived as Muslim or Arab is wrong. "All Americans, regardless of how we hyphenate, are Americans first," he said.

Jana Schroeder, who works for the American Friends Service Committee, a social-justice arm of the Quakers, quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the ceremony.

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy . . . Through violence, you murder the hater; but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate, returning violence for violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars."

She opposes war with Afghanistan or any other country considered a haven for terrorists.

"I certainly feel in the minority," she said after the ceremony. "I don't know that I feel alone." And she admitted she has despaired. "It is hard not to want revenge."

* Contact Mara Lee at 225-2420 or e-mail Antiviolence message The text of a message drafted by 60 Dayton area religious and community leaders:

This is a time for grief and sorrow. Our prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones. We, the members of Dayton area faith communities, implore our fellow citizens to embrace each other in love and understanding at this difficult time and refrain from thoughts and acts of violence against each other.

As people of faith we cannot stand idly by watching our sisters and brothers, particularly Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans, suffer from violence. We condemn any act of violence in our community. We must stand with one another regardless of our differences.

We value multicultural diversity through love, respect and acceptance. We understand the need of a loving, unified community, where no one lives in fear. We should not allow evil revenge and hatred to overtake our souls. Terrorism and peace cannot co-exist. Terrorism has no religion and should be condemned.

There is a deep need for each individual to become more knowledgeable of human differences, causes of discord and how to engage in ongoing peace processes. We need to refocus on the sanctity of life and redemptive nature of love.

So we invite you to join us in this unity pledge:

"With the goal of building better race relations, I pledge to do everything I can to make our community a place where equality, justice, freedom and peace will grow and flourish.

I commit myself to achieving this goal by loving, not hating, showing understanding, not anger, making peace, not war."

©Copyright 2001, Dayton Daily News

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