We have heard a great deal of anti-Muslim rhetoric during the presidential campaign. President-elect Trump spoke of creating a registry, requiring Muslims to register. Some have said that it was just campaign rhetoric and President–elect Trump does not mean it. However in recent days, two of his key transition team members Reince Priebus, who will be chief of staff, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach have said that they are still planning to set up a registry for Muslims. They see this as a way of fighting terrorism. They claim that it will not be used to harass anyone and that innocent Muslims should not worry. History reminds us that this is the same language that the Nazis used in requiring Jews to register during their rise to power. As the Holocaust Museum reminds the world in their statement about this issue, language was the first thing used to dehumanize others. In our own nation’s history, Japanese internment camps show that a Muslim registry would not be out of the question.
As part of Franciscan Action Network’s (FAN’s) collaboration with Unity Productions Foundation on the docudrama the Sultan and the Saint, FAN staff members have been invited to speak with a number of predominantly Muslim communities across the country. These people are our neighbors, our doctors, and the cashiers at the grocery store. Their children go to school with our children. Because of the rhetoric they are afraid, some are being harassed, and their children are being taunted in school. The Sultan and the Saint film tells one of the great interfaith stories from history. Set in a past period of East-West conflict, it speaks with urgency to our present moment in history. Two men of faith, one a traveling Christian preacher, the other ruler of a Muslim Empire, defied centuries of war, distrust, and insidious propaganda in search of mutual respect and common ground. The story is as relevant today as it was almost 800 years ago.
As Franciscans, we are called to be more than observers and bystanders. When we see injustice, we are called to action.
Let us remember the story of our Franciscan Friar, St. Maximilian Kolbe. He refused to sign the Deutsche Volksliste, which would have given him rights similar to those of German citizens in exchange for recognizing his German ancestry. He spoke out against the Nazis and helped protect Jewish children. For this Friar Kolbe was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. Toward the end of his second month in Auschwitz, men were chosen to face death by starvation to warn against those trying to escape. Friar Kolbe was not chosen, but he volunteered to take the place of a fellow prisoner who had a family that needed him.
We hope and pray that our nation never comes to the point of actually creating a Muslim registry, but we do have to be prepared to act if the unthinkable occurs.
We are asking that we, as Franciscans and Franciscan hearted people, follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Maximilian Kolbe and sign a commitment to stand up and say, “Do not take my brother, my sister, who is Muslim. Take me, a Franciscan instead. I will sign the registry in their place.”
In deciding to commit to this idea, you will be asked to sign up below using your name, address, email and zip code. We will keep track of the number of commitments and make our government officials aware of what Franciscans all over the country are doing and why. We will keep your contact information completely confidential and will not use it outside of the Franciscan Action Network.
Individual signers, please fill out the bottom portion of this page.
For Community or Organizational signers, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the name and location of your organization along with how many individuals you represent. This information will be added to our total signers.