Faith leaders at BCRI discuss ways to reduce racial tension

By Ariel Worthy

The Birmingham Times

Father Robert Crossmyer of Holy Family Catholic Church in Birmingham said one of the ways to move forward is for the clergy to listen. (Ariel Worthy, The Birmingham TImes)
Father Robert Crossmyer of Holy Family Catholic Church in Birmingham said one of the ways to move forward is for the clergy to listen. (Ariel Worthy, The Birmingham TImes)

With everyone voicing opinions about racial tension in the United States a group of diverse faith leaders were invited to weigh in on the topic during a discussion at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

The BCRI invited leaders from the Catholic, Muslim and Christian communities to discuss the recent violence both locally and abroad and to talk about what steps can be taken.

Father Robert Crossmyer of Holy Family Catholic Church in Birmingham said one of the ways to move forward is for the clergy to listen.

“Do we listen to what’s going on in society, or do we automatically push it aside and consider it not worthy of our time?” he asked.

Another step is to learn from others, he said.

“I’ve learned more from . . . the people in the pews and the people I’ve served on the streets and in Ensley,” he said, “they have taught me how to be a priest.”

Crossmyer said people often try to do things for others, and not with others.

“Jesus doesn’t want me to do anything for you,” Crossmyer said. “He wants me to do with you.”

Ashfaq Taufique of the Birmingham Islamic Society, announced that he is beginning a 100-person participation of the Community of Love.

“It’s hard to hate people when you eat with them,” Taufique said.

Khaula Hadeed, of the Council of American Islamic Relations told a story of how the Muslim community in Montgomery is trying get a mosque built, but many people want it blocked.

“People didn’t want the mosque, they thought it would bring ISIS,” Hadeed said. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, is this really happening?’ These people actually think that their neighbors that they’ve lived with for all these years, now cannot have a space to call their own.”

Hadeed said she was inspired when leaders of other religions stood in support of the mosque.

“We cannot start hating the people that we have worked with all of these years,” Hadeed said. “That’s where our faith leaders come in.”