Faith leaders in Oklahoma City addressed the atrocity in New Zealand on Friday (March 15). Speakers at the gathering said they were horrified at events in Christchurch, New Zealand, where two mosques were attacked within an hour’s time, in coordinated assaults.
In all, 49 people were killed. The South Pacific nation’s Prime Minister, Jacinta Ardern, “described the shootings as a terrorist attack that appeared to have been well-planned,” NBC reported.
Oklahoma responses included those expressed at the local office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Journalist and writer Bill O’Brien posted a report on Friday’s press conference.
O’Brien recounted the words of CAIR’s Lani Holbrock, who told reporters that word of the attack came late in the day. Habrock observed that “evil of that type has to be developed,” adding it is misleading to characterize such killers such as these “lone gunmen” because, as the blogger summarized, “they have developed their hatred through interaction with others” who share similar beliefs. Habrock warned there are “pockets of hatred” throughout the world.
CAIR’s Veronica Laizure noted the killer in Christchurch had stated his explicit goal was to create racial divisions, and that those speaking out were committed to healing divisions in our community.
Also speaking at the gathering was Rabbi Abby Jacobson of Oklahoma City’s Emanuel Synagogue. She recounted instances when local Muslims and Jews worked together for shared objectives to assist people in need. Jacobson currently leads the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma.
O’Brien reported, “A representative of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Colette Dayton, spoke of her faith’s commitment to protecting people of different faith traditions, and lamented the increase in hate filled rhetoric that is becoming increasingly common.”
Rev. Lori Walke of Mayfair Congregational Church, closing speaker at the event, said her sadness was intensified because said interfaith cooperation with Oklahoma Muslims made the massacre hard to bear.
For O’Brien’s account of the press conference, visit:
Rev. Shannon Fleck, executive director for the Oklahoma Conference of Churches (OCC), also spoke at the CAIR press conference.
She sent a release to The City Sentinel and other news organizations, saying her organization stood with “our Muslim community here in Oklahoma and around the world. We stand alongside our neighbors sharing in their pain and shock. We will walk side by side as we all journey forward together. Acts of evil and terror will never prevail over unity and love. We will vehemently and unashamedly stand in unity [and] in love with all.”
Addressing concerned Oklahomans, she commented, “Many of you are wondering how we can show solidarity and support for the Muslim community in OKC. We’re coordinating with CAIR Oklahoma and our interfaith partners for something next week. In the meantime, send emails, cards, and prayers #interfaithlove.”