IFLC Commentaries and Position Statements

November, 2019
Almont Ugliness: InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit Condemns Racism at Recent Local Football Game

Shame on those football fans, parents and students from Almont High whose racist anger, whose unjustified sense of their white supremacy caused them to believe that they could lose their sense of humanity toward teenagers, allowing these people to rain ugly vitriol down on African American high school football players.

Nothing justifies it. Ironically those racist acts point out why these black students protest. For them racism is real and a suffocating daily presence. For these black Denby High students the racist acts of these people from Almont demonstrate that many Americans today refuse to honor the promise of opportunity and equality that the flag represents.

Shame. Shame. Shame
Rev. Stancy F. Adams, Chairperson
Robert A. Bruttell, Vice-Chair
Raman Singh, President

In Support of Water Availability for All

During 2018, the Religious Leaders Forum became very concerned about water shut-offs in some Detroit homes when residents could not afford their water bills. Clergy came together to develop a position statement supporting water availability and quality as a moral issue—a position that has been communicated to public officials at the local and state level and others during 2018 and 2019.

The statement, along with a list of the individuals who signed it, follows:

Religious Leaders Forum

Statement of Faith Leaders on the Accessibility and Treatment of Water in Detroit

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over mighty waters.
— Psalm 29:3

Water plays a pivotal role in our various religious communities and congregations. We mention water in our prayers. We use water in our rituals. We find water in our Scriptures, where water is more than a metaphor for God’s loving kindness, but a promise made to people living in places where water was scarce and precious. Water makes life possible.

Water is essential to human flourishing and human dignity. In 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations rightfully declared that “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation” is “a right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights” (UN Res. 64/292, art. 1). This fundamental human right resonates with all of our sacred teachings.

As religious leaders, we live under a Divine obligation to speak on behalf of those who do not have access to water. We bear responsibility to lead by word and action in calling for policies that are just and equitable. We are called to work with those of good will for water practices that are environmentally sustainable. We are called to give water to those who are thirsty.

In Metropolitan Detroit, thousands face the threat of losing access to water due to financial hardships stemming from a lack of meaningful employment. Many are forced to pay rates they cannot afford, and many bear the burden of living with a sanitation system that is unreliable, unsustainable, and out of date. Finally, many cannot take advantage of the assistance programs that the Detroit Water and Sewage Department has established to mitigate their plight.

Our elected officials must therefore address the essential role water and its affordability play in the flourishing of Michigan residents and communities. We are writing to encourage equitable and creative solutions to help low-income and vulnerable persons have access to clean and safe water.

We, the religious leaders of congregations throughout Metro Detroit write with one voice to urge all citizens to support our civil officials as they search for ways to reduce the barriers to clean and safe water for all. We also pledge to continue to listen to the needs of the poor and to work for meaningful change in the provision of, and access to, clean and safe water for all. Finally, we pledge to work collaboratively whenever we can to promote the common good and build the Beloved Community.

Religious Leaders Forum of Metropolitan Detroit

  • Bishop David Bard, Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church
  • Rabbi Joshua Bennett, Temple Israel
  • Rabbi Aaron Bergman, President, Michigan Board of Rabbis, Senior Rabbi, Adat Shalom Synagogue
  • Reverend Dr. Daniel Buttry, Global Consultant for Peace and Justice, American Baptist Churches
  • Reverend Dr. DeeDee M. Coleman, President, Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity, Inc.
  • Reverend Dr. William Danaher, Canon of Interfaith and Ecumenical Relations, Diocese of Michigan, and Rector, Christ Church Cranbrook
  • Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, President Islamic Organization of North America
  • The Right Reverend Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr., Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
  • Reverend Dr. Kenneth Harris, President and Academic Dean, Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit
  • Rabbi Marla Hornsten, Temple Israel
  • Father Aren Jebejian, St. John’s Armenian Orthodox Church
  • David Johnson, President of the Westland Stake, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Monsignor John Kasza, Interfaith Officer, Archdiocese of Detroit
  • Bishop Donald Kreiss, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Southeast Michigan Synod
  • Rabbi Harold Loss, Temple Israel
  • Rabbi Jason Miller, Director, Kosher Michigan
  • Rabbi Mark Miller, Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth El
  • Rabbi Michael Moskowitz, Temple Shir Shalom
  • Dr. Theodore Parsons III, President, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • Father George Shalhoub, St. Mary’s Antiochan Orthodox Church
  • Rabbi Steven Rubenstein, Congregation Beth Ahm
  • Imam Hassan Sayed Qazwini, Islamic Institute of America
  • Reverend Dr. Allen Timm, Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of Detroit, PCUSA
  • The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit
  • Reverend Dr. Keith Whitney, Chairman Social Action & Public Policy Committee of the Council of Baptist Pastors

Additional Clergy Who Support the Statement about Water Rights:

  • Rabbi Edut Dorit, President, Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network
  • Rabbi Arianna Gordon, Temple Israel
  • Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny, Temple Israel
  • Rabbi Jennifer Lader, Temple Israel
  • Rabbi Paul Yedwab, Temple Israel
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