SALT LAKE CITY -- The leaders of all of Utah's major religions have issued an open letter calling for civility and compassion on issues surrounding homelessness.
The letter, sent to FOX 13 on Thursday by the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, "implore all to seek a deeper understanding of the many paths that lead to homelessness and to join our common efforts to assist our homeless brothers and sisters in meeting their needs for housing and other services that will help them achieve economic independence and a life of dignity."
The letter is signed by the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, Salt Lake Calvary Baptist Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake and Congregation Kol Ami.
Pastor France Davis of Calvary Baptist Church told Fox 13 he was concerned that the debate over new homeless center sites showed a lack of civility.
“All of us need to remember, that they are human beings just like the rest of us are and we ought to then make provisions for them," Davis said.
The open letter is a statement as communities have become increasingly hostile to relocating homeless shelters in Salt Lake City and surrounding communities. Public meetings on where shelters should be located have been met with boos and jeers. In Draper, a loud chorus of boos met public officials who considered that community for a site.
The letter cites the "Golden Rule" and similar teachings in different faith traditions as political leaders address Utah's homeless crisis.
Read the full letter here:
Homelessness, Compassion, and Civility
The depth and strength of a community’s character can be measured by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. As a group representing many faiths, we implore all to seek a deeper understanding of the many paths that lead to homelessness and to join our common efforts to assist our homeless brothers and sisters in meeting their needs for housing and other services that will help them achieve economic independence and a life of dignity.
All faiths teach a form of the Golden Rule. Confucius said, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.” The Talmud states, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.” Christ said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” and the Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him said: None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
We have a wonderful opportunity to minister as we work together to ensure all people in our community can meet their basic needs. We ask all to move forward with the Golden Rule etched in our hearts, demonstrating goodwill toward all men and women.
Pamela Atkinson, Community Leader and Presbyterian Elder
Bishop Gérald Caussé, Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Reverend France Davis, Pastor of the Salt Lake Calvary Baptist Church
The Rt. Reverend Scott B. Hayashi, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah
Father Elias Koucos, Holy Trinity Cathedral - Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church
Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman, Congregation Kol Ami, Salt Lake City
Imam Muhammad Shoayb Mehtar, Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake
The Most Reverend Oscar A. Solis, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City
Josie Stone, Chair of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable