Statements & Press Releases
Center for Interfaith Cooperation is about words. Words that express our humanity and help to define our relationship to the Devine through our relationship with one another across a beautifully diverse religious landscape.
Sacred texts and words of wisdom from all our faith traditions help to guide daily actions as well as inform thoughts about eternity.
Our goal in producing statements is not only to seek common language and understanding regarding particular events, but also to illuminate the places where we have honest differences. CIC’s mission is to build empathy for other positions while further defining and challenging our individual convictions.
We have never hesitated to stand in solidarity when any one of our faith communities is attacked. We all vigorously support an open pluralistic society where everyone feels free to worship as they choose or not to worship at all. Our challenges come when it when we approach social issues and the pursuit of equity in all we do. We pride ourselves in building trust across theological and ideological difference.
Below are the two most recent statements from CIC. We hope that you join the conversation and bring your voice to the ongoing conversation.
In response to the FedEx Tragedy
We walk with heavy hearts as we carry the news of another mass shooting in our beloved city. We walk with heavy hearts as we bear the sadness of eight families who have experienced the unimaginable. We walk with heavy hearts as we hold the weight of our own sorrow and grief over eight lives ended by a senseless act of violence. We walk with heavy hearts today.
The Board and Staff of Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) adds our voices of love and support to the families, friends, coworkers, and neighbors of Matthew R. Alexander, Samaria Blackwell, Amarjeet Johal, Jaswinder Kaur, Jaswinder Singh, Amarjit Skhon, Karli Smith, and John Weisert. Our prayers and thoughts are with you all.
This tragic event has hit the Sikh community incredibly hard. Four of the eight people who were killed are a part of this beautiful religious tradition. To our Sikh siblings, we pledge to you our continued assistance and solidarity as you navigate through this time of mourning and loss together.
As an interfaith community that represents the beautiful diversity of the faith traditions found and practiced throughout the Indianapolis area and beyond, CIC strives to be “a community that pursues peace through interfaith understanding and cooperation.” This is never more important than during times of difficulty, turmoil, and loss. Times such as this. May our prayers and our resolve be evidenced in the work of our hands, the boldness of our steps, the creativity of our minds, and the compassion of our hearts as we seek a way forward that ensures all people live a life without fear, full of promise and possibility. And may this begin within each one of us.
Reflections on the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial from CIC staff and board members
“Today seemed a little more beautiful than most. With love and respect for all, I hope the verdict will help bring a modicum of healing to our country.” – CIC Executive Director, Charlie Wiles
Center for Interfaith Cooperation Board Members
On April 20, 2021, following the jury verdict concerning the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, several Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) board members and staff met to discuss the verdict and to share their impressions on racial justice issues in America. While one jury verdict, in one case, in one city does not cure a system of injustices that has been part of the fabric of America for decades, it is a small but necessary step for our justice system. The jury verdict, which soundly condemned the actions of the police officer in the death of George Floyd, brought some relief to the Floyd family and many others across the country. However, most agree, that “liberty and justice for all” is still not a reality for all Americans; there are still challenges to overcome.
Center for Interfaith Cooperation provides safe environments, resources, and opportunities for service to increase religious literacy, build empathy between faiths, and facilitate interfaith encounters. As justice and fairness are essential elements of all faith traditions, at CIC, we will continue to speak for equal justice and fairness for all peoples.
–David Shaheed, Former Board Chair & Governance Chair
I felt a measure of relief that Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd. That feeling of relief came from a sense of doubt that he would be found guilty, despite the fact that his kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes was captured live on video. This doubt points to something we all know: that police carry deadly weapons and have done great harm with impunity, and this harm is done disproportionately to people of color. Only 5% of officers charged with murder in these situations have been convicted since 2005.
A week before the Chauvin verdict, 10 miles away from the trial, Kim Potter shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a young Black man, during a traffic stop while training other officers. He is dead. Days later, we learned that a Chicago police officer shot a 13-year-old Black boy named Adam Toledo. He is dead. Moments after the jury delivered the Chauvin verdict, police in Columbus, OH shot a 16-year-old Black girl named Ma’Khia Bryant in the chest, a girl who called the police for help. She is dead. This is just last week in our United States. The harm ripples through the families of the killed. The rest of us live in perpetual heartbreak. Many people of color also live in terror.
These injustices sprout like weeds from deeply-rooted white supremacy, harming people of color and their families. A common truth revealed by spiritual traditions around the world is that we live in community with one another and are equals as human beings. From this truth, many traditions exhort us to do no harm, to keep each other with love and kindness, and to atone when we do harm so that our collective wounds may heal. It is also true that white supremacy and its violent manifestations have been justified, endorsed, and even promoted by religious authorities, from the creation of the idea of the existence of a superior white race, to colonization and eradication of people indigenous to the Americas, to the kidnapping and enslavement of African peoples, to the systematic murder of Jewish people, LGBT people, and other non-Aryans in Nazi Germany, to the unjust systems we face in the US today. The present contains the past. Only by acknowledging harm and atoning for it can we move forward, together.
White supremacy is not just found in police departments. It is something that Center for Interfaith Cooperation as an organization has to face, too. CIC is early in its journey to becoming an anti-racist organization. To be honest, we have barely begun to grapple with this. I hope that we become reliable allies in this struggle and help bring people together to work towards a more just world for everyone.
–Tony Wiederhold ,Founder and Organizer Indy Community Yoga
Justice has prevailed in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. There was no other conclusion 12 “reasonable” people could have come to. America watched as George Floyd was murdered in front of countless cameras. Chauvin’s actions brought shame to the honorable profession of policing which has been under-fire for shootings involving minorities. However, it is my opinion that the countless officers who take seriously their oath to protect and serve, were as horrified by his actions as the civilian community was. I don’t know one professional police officer who would put his knee on the neck of a human being and watch him die. I also know of no professional officer who would condone it. The already strained relationship between officers and the community was damaged even further, but this verdict is an opportunity for police departments and the minority communities to come together not to “bridge the gap” but to build a bridge. We need each other to keep our communities safe to raise our children and live in peace.
–IMPD Chaplain Patricia Holman, CIC Board Member
Justice in the case for the sake of George Floyd and his entire family is a step in the right direction, but it is only a step. It is important that we do not confuse yesterday’s verdict with the justice work that is still ahead of us. It is up to us to continue the everyday work for justice for all and a world where no one lives in fear.
–Reverend Brian Shivers, CIC Board Chair