December 3, 2015

As the presidents of Bayan Claremont and Claremont School of Theology, we wish to express our profound grief and sadness at yesterday’s shootings that took the lives of 14 and injured more than 20 at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, which lies just 25 miles away from our shared campus in Claremont.

We are saddened by the loss of life and the impact this terrible tragedy will have on the families, friends and coworkers of those who died as well as on the survivors. We are saddened by the epidemic of mass shootings in our country during a calendar year when there have been more such shootings than days, according to the Washington Post. And we are saddened that this attack targeted a facility that reflects the ethos of our schools in meeting the human needs of our society’s most vulnerable members.

Details are emerging about the perpetrators of the attacks and their motives. We feel it especially important to respond to the most prominent fact that has been shared thus far by law enforcement officials – that the attackers were Muslim in name, if nothing else.

In an interview with National Public Radio this morning, President Turk expressed three prescient concerns held by the Muslim community. First, that there will be attacks against Muslim communities or individuals who appear to be Muslim. Second, that there will be a conflation of the violent actions of the attackers with Islam. Third, that American Muslims will become marginalized and disenfranchised members of our society.

We stand united in our desire to use our capacity as theological schools to support all communities and members of our society, religious or secular, in their efforts to prevent these fears from being realized.

For five years, Claremont School of Theology and Bayan Claremont have shared a single campus. Our students pursue their respective callings to service and ministry side-by-side. As a result, our faculty, staff, students and alumni have experienced the richness that comes from open engagement and partnership across our religious traditions. That experience can be a vital resource in bolstering the vibrant pluralism that lies at the very core of what makes this country an inspiration to so many around the world.

We call upon our fellow Americans, of all religious traditions and no tradition, to stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters in the coming days, weeks, and months. We lend our voices to the growing chorus demanding action in advancing responsible gun policies in our country. And we affirm together the importance of prayer – prayer that does not reflect escapism or avoidance, but rather connects us to a deep, divine wellspring of courage to take meaningful action in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. We invite those who are able to attend a prayer vigil being held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in San Bernardino at 6:00 PM this evening and encourage the creation of open and welcoming spaces of prayer throughout the country.