Defeat terror with love, United Church urges Canadians in letter

Resistance rooted in love is the best hope for defeating terrorism, according to a letter issued by The United Church of Canada in light of this month’s terrorist attacks in Paris that claimed the lives of 137 people.

“Recent events have clearly demonstrated that we are all vulnerable to terrorist attacks,” Right. Rev. Jordan Cantwell, the Moderator of the Church, wrote. “People in all parts of the world and of every faith are being targeted.”

“When terror strikes close to home, we may be tempted to project our fear onto our neighbours, to make enemies of those who dress, or act, or pray differently from us,” Rev. Cantwell adds. “At times like this we must hold firm to our faith in the power of love to overcome evil.”

“Hostility and mistrust only feed the fear that leads to more violence,” the letter warns. “We must choose to stand in solidarity with our neighbours—near and far—of every faith and every background, united with all people of good will, to resist the hatred and division that terrorism attempts to spread.”

Rev. Cantwell acknowledges that refusing to become mired in fear and hate requires both courage and discipline.

The letter notes that honouring what is good and life-affirming in our communities is another important form of resistance.

“We need to resist the fears that call for a withdrawal of support for Syrian refugees and remember that the vast majority of these people are victims of the very terrorism we also face,” Rev. Cantwell wrote.

One of the strategies of the terrorists is to divide Muslim and non-Muslim citizens in order to create a war of civilizations, the letter warns.

The ISIS has claimed that the groups motive for carrying out terrorist attacks in the West is to drive moderate Muslims out of Western nations and into the Islamic State’s putative caliphate.

“In this context it becomes even more critical for the church to strengthen relations with Muslim neighbours, to invite visits between our congregations and communities, and to affirm that we are all Canadians together,” Rev. Cantwell wrote.

The urges the readers to draw inspiration from the life of Jesus Christ in these difficult times.

“Let us practise once again what it means to follow Jesus: to live a life of compassion, to be courageous in faith, to resist fear and hatred, and to believe that, finally, love will win,” Rev. Cantwell concludes.

Founder in 1925, the United Church of Canada is the largest Protestant Christian denomination in Canada, and the second largest Canadian Christian denomination after the Roman Catholic Church, with a congregation of about two million members.