December 7, 2012
Despite hate mail, Pasadena church to host Muslim group’s convention
Since deciding to host the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s (MPAC) 12th annual convention on Dec. 15, All Saints Church, Pasadena has received dozens of hate-filled messages.
“We’ve begun to receive some of the most vile, vituperative, ugly, mean-spirited email correspondence I've ever read in all of my life, talking about All Saints participating in terrorism by being hospitable to Muslims,” Pastor Ed Bacon told his congregation in a sermon on Dec. 2.
Rev. Susan Russell, senior associate for communications at All Saints, shared some of the messages with the Huffington Post, including one that compared Islam to Nazism and called Muslims "Body Snatchers":
MPAC, which calls itself “a public service agency working for the civil rights of American Muslims,” is going ahead with the planned convention. On Dec. 6, the church was the site of a press conference at which Bacon and more than a dozen other faith leaders from around Los Angeles expressed solidarity with MPAC and All Saints.
“We want to convert you,” MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati said, addressing the “hatemongers” who sent the messages to All Saints. “We don’t want to convert you to our religions; we have more than enough adherents in each of our religions. We want to convert you so that we can remove that hatred and prejudice in your hearts and replace it with understanding.”
Among the Jewish clergy present was Rabbi Sarah Bassin, executive director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.
“We’re affirming the centrality that we are all belonging to the same community,” Bassin said at the press conference, a video of which is available on YouTube. “And in that same community, we face shared struggles and we face shared interests. That’s what I believe All Saints is doing here, is creating a space for our community to address those needs together, by hosting MPAC and by opening their doors.”
Bassin is scheduled to appear at the conference on Dec. 15, where she’ll participate in a panel discussion called “Faith Authority & Freedom,” along with Bacon, MPAC Senior Adviser Dr. Maher Hathout, and Narinjan Singh Khalsa, the chairman of the LA City Human Relations Commission.