Confronting and Resisting Religious Bigotry
The Office for Religious and Spiritual Life is here to accompany all members of the Stanford community, as we each address life’s biggest questions. We endeavor to treat every member of our community with compassion and kindness. In times of tension, misunderstanding and vulnerability, such as the one we face today, we are committed to being a safe and compassionate space for any religious community under attack. Whether manifesting as Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or other forms of intolerance, the rise in one form of bigotry usually indicates a rise in others. To those in our community who are in pain, vulnerable, silenced, or invisible, we see you. You are not alone. Your story matters. You belong at Stanford, and even more, you are needed here.
Stanford is a multifaith community where atheists, Baha'is, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and countless other faiths come together to guide, nurture, and enhance communities of belonging and standing in solidarity with those who feel vulnerable. And as a multifaith community, we must stand against divisive voices that seek to dehumanize, otherize, or pit one community against another. Even in the most impassioned disagreements or political differences, dehumanizing people is unacceptable. Every individual is valued and valuable. In a largely secular setting like Stanford, people observing their faith in public by wearing a kippah, hijab, turban or cross are commendable in their courage, and should not be made to feel afraid.
Even amidst a rise in religious bigotry, Stanford has had a history of vulnerable communities uniting and coming to each others’ aid. Muslim students spoke powerfully when Jewish students held a vigil after the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh. Jewish students were equally passionate defending their peers when the Muslim community was rocked by the deadly attack on worshippers in the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. When the “Westboro Baptist Church” picketed outside of Hillel, the entire community, led by our religious students, marshalled a counter demonstration against hate with music by Talisman, singing “We shall overcome” and listening to Amazing Grace on bagpipes.
It is in that spirit that we hope to heal wounds and bridge divides. This is difficult, but necessary work. While we might not always hit the mark, we can commit to continuous growth in our kindness and compassion. As quarantines are lifted, we put down our smartphones and turn to the work of building a face-to-face community. We ask everyone to commit to meeting others with dignity despite our differences. More is called of us; do not be a perpetrator or a bystander when people are being attacked in person or online based on their assumed identity. As religious and spiritual guides, the staff of ORSL are committed to working together to promote humanity and dignity of all in partnership with students and the whole Stanford community. We also commit to standing with all of our community members as they bring their whole selves to campus in the fall.
It is our tradition at Stanford University to begin each communal celebration with an acknowledgement of the land on which we stand and the peoples who have stewarded it across the generations. Here is a video of the land acknowledgement presented at this year's Commencement ceremony.
Stanford COVID19 Remembrance Project
To honor those lost to COVID19 and their families and loved ones, Stanford has created the Stanford COVID19 Remembrance Project, which includes a campus soundwalk, a call for stories, and a future campus installation.
To hear the sound walk and share your story, please visit Stanford Sound Walk.