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Letter 37 | American Values Religious Voices

Letter 37

Danielle Widmann Abraham

Assistant Professor of Comparative Religion and Islamic Studies
Ursinus College

February 25, 2017

Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of the Trump Administration and 115th Congress,

Our country today faces a choice: Will we be a nation of values, or a nation of power for power’s sake?

In making this choice, my Quaker tradition teaches that we are anchored first and foremost in one truth: because God created humankind “in His own image” (Genesis 1:27), every person in this world has within them the Light of God. Divinity is present in each human life.

Our country has brought together human lives from around the world: those from the first nations of this land, those whose ancestors resiliently survived being brought here by force, those who wanted freedom to worship or a better life for their children, and those who have come here to find a refuge when their lives were almost destroyed. With our distinct histories, we are now a people bound together. Recognizing this gives us strength.

John Woolman, an 18th century Quaker preacher and abolitionist, asserted: “To consider mankind other than brethren…plainly supposes a darkness of understanding.” We cannot afford to let xenophobia rob us of our place in the human family. We cannot afford to let bigotry subject us to that darkness. We must fight against anything that jeopardizes our ability to see one another as essential to our kindred reality.

Our universe of obligation is marked first by the borders of our nation and then extends to the limits of our planet. We need the clearest possible vision to help us focus on improving the well-being of the people in our country and around the world. Today, one in five children in the United States lives in poverty. It is our task to ensure for them and for all children a life that is nourished, safe, secure, sustainable, and healthy.

We are commanded to care for each other and the strangers who come to our door. Winning for the sake of winning and power for the sake of domination and division mean nothing. What matters is that we nurture the life, the light, and the minds of our people. This culture of care is and will always be our peace.

As you go forward, I hold you and all of us in the Light.

Sincerely,

Danielle Widmann Abraham

Danielle Widmann Abraham
Assistant Professor of Comparative Religion and Islamic Studies
Ursinus College

 

About the author

Danielle Widmann Abraham, Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Ursinus College, is a scholar of contemporary Islam who researches religious responses to poverty, inequality, and social suffering. Her scholarly work explores the ways in which Islamic tradition intersects with social movements in South and Southeast Asia, as well as the contemporary United States.  She received her graduate degrees in Comparative Religion from Harvard Divinity School and serves as the co-chair of the Contemporary Islam Group at the American Academy of Religion.