Tucson, Arizona Friday, 14 February 2003
Faith leaders to share creed of tolerance
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Tucson religious leaders have planned an unprecedented religious exchange that begins tonight when a Christian minister gives the sermon at a Jewish Shabbat service.
At the same time several blocks away, a Sikh woman will speak at a Muslim prayer study.
"I've never given the message in a synagogue before," said the Rev. David Weber of Catalina United Methodist Church, 2700 E. Speedway, who is part of a local multifaith alliance that formed in reaction to Sept. 11, 2001.
"This is unique. Regardless of the war issues, we're saying let's have tolerance among our neighbors here in Tucson."
Exchange members call themselves the "Tolerance Team" and are modeling themselves after a Tolerance Trio - Father John Elliott Ross, Rabbi Morris Lazaron and Dr. Everett Clinchy, who crossed America calling on people to embrace intergroup understanding. The trio covered 9,000 miles, visiting 129 audiences in the 1930s, a time when prejudice was extremely high.
Weber added that in 2003 Americans need to be concerned about new forms of prejudice.
"It is difficult for Muslims in town," Weber said. "Especially for the women who wear the head scarves. They get the worst - spit on in supermarkets. No matter what happens, we should be tolerant here toward each other."
The pulpit exchange will include leaders from the Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jewish, Baha'i and Buddhist faiths.
"Our focus is tolerance, but I think we'll all be tempted to talk about the possibility of war,'' said Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, chairman of the Tucson Multi-Faith Alliance and senior rabbi at Temple Emanu-El, 225 N. Country Club Road.
"We are talking about religious respect and tolerance as the basis for social existence,'' said Cohon.
The alliance has found common messages of tolerance in a wide range of world religions.
Senobar Tafazoli, a member of the International Community of Submitters/Masjid Tucson, 5010 E. Bellevue St., is also part of the pulpit exchange.
"The multifaith alliance has the idea of fighting bigotry and prejudice, and I wanted to be a part of it," said Tafazoli, who will host Sikh woman Sat Bir Kaur Khalsa at her mosque's prayer service tonight. On Sunday morning, Tafazoli will speak to the Sikh community's gurdwara service at the Khalsa Montessori School, 3702 E. River Road.
Tafazoli said she's not worried about the pulpit exchange during a tense time for Americans, who are facing the possibility of a war in Iraq, a mostly Muslim country.
"I trust in God," Tafazoli said. "I look forward to hearing what the others believe."
* Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at 573-4134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
©Copyright 2003, Arizona Daily Star (AZ, USA)
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