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An Open Letter to Leaders of Village of Croton

November 17, 2016


At the heart of the American experiment is the belief in the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Along with these, foundational to them, is the equality of all people. And we know that from the very writing of these values, our nation has struggled to live up their fullness. For centuries we have fallen short, but we have always continued to move toward more completely embodying the ideals on which this nation, a nation predominantly of immigrants, was founded.

We find ourselves, in this moment, in a country more openly divided than it has been for a long time. We find ourselves, in this moment, in a country in which people now feel comfortable not simply speaking their prejudice, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny behind closed doors, but from the highest mountaintops in the land. In this moment, our nation’s commitment to the ideals on which it was founded is in question. And yet, at the same time, we continue to honor the American experiment and dream by opening our country to immigrants and refugees. In the months and years that come, many, though not enough, refugees from war-torn countries will find their way to our shores and some may be resettled here among us, in Westchester County. They will arrive with little, with traumatic memories, with needs physical, economic and emotional. Many of them will be Muslim.

Our country has been and will continue to be a nation of immigrants: Seeking a better life, wanting only to live freely and safely, as we all do. But that freedom of safety and the pursuit of a better life is threatened in this country for people who are different. And no lines are drawn between those who were born here and those who immigrate. Anyone who looks “different,” “foreign,” who appears to be Muslim, is under constant threat of prejudice and violence both verbal and physical.

The current climate has opened the door for all manner of hate to be spoken with impunity. Worse still, acts of hate are all too common. We have the chance to be very clear in making a public statement about our village’s solidarity against these acts of hate.

Although all of you have sworn oaths of office that include upholding the equality, rights and freedoms of all people, we firmly believe an affirmative additional statement is needed to convey our town’s continued and unwavering commitment to being open, welcoming, and supportive of our current Muslim neighbors and any who might become part of our community in the future. We want it to be known, here among us, in the wider community, and in the world, that in our town prejudice and hate will find no welcome home. We want those who seek to join us here – be they American or Syrian or from anywhere else – to know they will be welcomed, kept safe, encouraged to live their lives fully and with full knowledge of our individual and collective commitment to their flourishing. In that spirit, we urge members of the Village Board to consider and adopt a resolution against Islamophobia.


Rev. Brian C. Brennan, pastor, Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church

The Rev. Bradley C. Dyche, Rector, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church

Cantor Ben Ellerin, serving Temple Israel of Northern Westchester

Rev. Melissa Hinnen, serving Asbury United Methodist Church

Rabbi Jennifer Jaech, serving Temple Israel of Northern Westchester

Rev. Dr. Sarah Lenzi, serving the Unitarian Universalist of the Hudson Valley

Dr. Saleem Mir, representing Mid-Westchester Muslim Center

One Comment leave one →
  1. Bob Meyer permalink
    November 18, 2016 10:09 pm

    This is the way to go! Thank you!

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