A Call to Action: Solidarity in a Time of Islamophobia

The views expressed below reflect only those of the author.

Like many members of my community, I woke up the morning after the election feeling scared and abandoned by my countrymen. How could so many have voted for someone actively preaching hatred against my community? Against Muslims, and someone well known for taking advantage of women? I was crushed not by the thought of the bigots and their hatred but of the many who were not compelled by their hate but by their indifference. These voters voted for Trump based on his economic policy and the change they felt it promised them, but that choice meant overlooking his divisive, hateful rhetoric, and its potential for terrible consequences. Not even a week after the election, there have been reports across the country of fear and intimidation being spread across college campuses.1

Living with Islamophobia is hard. Each reported incident of a shooting of a religious leader, a sister whose hijab is ripped off, a child who is bullied in school and called a terrorist, sends shock waves through our community. These are the strongest, most obvious threats against us. But the underlying, insidious current that runs beneath this is the sense that no matter what we do, we will never belong here. Many of us are immigrants or refugees, or the children of immigrants and refugees; our parents left their homes and uprooted their lives to find something better, only to have settled in a new land to realize that we are not wanted here. Many of us are descendants of slaves, who can trace our lineage back generation after generation, further back than most Americans. And yet, we will always be seen as the “other,” an alien threat to the lives of “ordinary” Americans.

Columbus is a city called home by thousands of Muslims, many of whom are refugees. Last week, the Columbus City Council passed a resolution against Islamophobia, announcing support of the Muslim community in Columbus. The Columbus Muslim community is grateful to the Jewish Voice for Peace, the sponsors of the resolution, and the CCC for getting this resolution passed, as many communities call Columbus home. This gesture was a good first step to addressing that sense of exclusion — but this resolution is not enough, it must be catalyzed into action to make this city a safer, more welcoming place for all who live here. The only way for us to move forward and above the divisive language of Islamophobia, and every other form of discrimination, is to recognize that the good in this city (and this country) will be in acknowledging that the Muslim community, the black community, the LGBT community, the disabled community — that every community is OUR community, that their struggles are ours and their fears are ours.

The question now is what are we going to do to ensure that Muslim sisters wearing headscarves feel safe walking in its streets? What are we going to do to ensure that workplace discrimination does not occur in this city simply because of a person’s hairstyle? What other measures will we take to protect those in this city who may become targets of the hate crimes being reported across the nation? What kind of example are we going to set, especially in this post-election environment, that bigotry and divisiveness will not be accepted?

We must condemn bigotry yes, but even more, we must be allies to each other’s “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.”

1. See “Reports of Hate Crimes Rise After Donald Trump Victory”.
2. See “New York Imam Shooting”
3. See “Woman Wearing Hijab attacked at San Jose State”.
4. See “Seven-year Old Boy Beaten on North Carolina School Bus for being Muslim”
5. See “Donald Trump has unleashed a new wave of bullying in schools”


Adeeba Arastu is a Muslim- and Indian-American student at the Ohio State University, studying architecture and geography. She is the Editor of the Muslim Students’ Association blog, IQRA, as well as an active member of Unchained, an organization that works to raise awareness for human trafficking. She can be contacted at arastu.2@osu.edu.

Finding Peace with Faith as an LGBTQ Person

Leaving home and living on your own for the first time can be challenging. This event can be even more complicated if you are someone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or those who are just beginning to explore who they are in terms of their sexuality or gender identity. For some LGBTQ young people, being on their own might symbolize stepping into the freedom to finally explore and claim who they are. For others, it might mean leaving a place of safety and acceptance to enter new environment of unknown and unpredictable variables.

I want to just speak about one area where LGBTQ people, regardless of age, often find their lives conflicted and complicated…faith. Along with figuring out who you are as a person, college can be an opportunity to explore, adhere to, question, alter, or discard previous beliefs or find new ways of believing and being in the world. Just as in our relationships with our families, many LGBTQ people have been hurt by faith communities. Others have experienced an open and embracing community of faith. Additionally, many of our supportive straight allies don’t want to be part of a faith community that is alienating to us.

If you do desire to belong to a faith community or you wish to explore and learn more about a different faith tradition than you have previously known about or been a part of, that conjures up a whole other minefield of questions. Where should you go?   Where is safe? That brings us to the heart of what I truly want to provide you in this blog post. Below are a list of resources and congregations that you can use in finding a way of believing or worshipping that is right for you. I encourage you to use your time in college to truly allow yourself to explore who you are in all aspects, including spiritually!


Christian Resourceswww.gaychristian.net

United Methodist Resources: King Avenue United Methodist – www.kingave.org; Summit on 16th United Methodist – www.summitmuc.org; Broad Street United Methodist – www.broadstreetumc.net. The term for United Methodist Churches that are affirming of LGBTQ persons is “Reconciling”. You can find more churches inside and outside of Columbus at www.rmnetwork.org

Baptist Resources: University Baptist Church – www.ubccolumbus.org. You can find more “Welcoming and Affirming” Baptist Churches at www.awab.org

Episcopalian Resources: St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church – www.ststephens-columbus.org. Find more Episcopal “Welcoming” congregations at www.integrityusa.org

United Church of Christ Resources: St. John’s United Church of Christ – www.stjohnschurchcolumbus.org. The term for LGBTQ safe United Church of Christ churches is “Open and Affirming.” Find more safe congregations at www.openandaffirming.org

Mormon Resources: www.affirmation.org

Muslim Resources: www.mpvusa.org

Jewish Resources: www.worldcongressglbtjews.net; Congregation Beth Tikvah – www.bethtikvahcolumbus.org; Temple Beth Shalom – www.tbsohio.org

Unitarian Universalist Resources: www.uua.org/directory/staff/multiculturalgrowth/lgbtq-ministries; First Unitarian Universalist Church – firstuucolumbus.org

Mennonite Resources: Columbus Mennonite – www.columbusmennonite.org

michigan_lgbt_onpage

Source: Flickr/B Tal

Josh Culbertson is a student at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio where he is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He is a member of Broad Street United Methodist Church in downtown Columbus, and he is the chair of their Reconciling committee. He has also worked in the arena of inter-faith organizing with Equality Ohio to bring voices of faith to discussions around LGBTQ rights and protections. You can read more about his struggles of coming to terms with being both a gay man and a person of faith at www.authenticculbs.com