"Healing Moments" Forum At St. Rose
Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish religious leaders shared parables and quoted sacred texts at a gathering in Albany Wednesday. They are hoping to offer comfort in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
A small crowd gathered at the Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary at the “Healing Moments” Forum at the College of St. Rose to discuss Saturday's massacre that left 11 dead.
The panel spoke of righteousness, diversity, being accountable for one's actions and the importance of prayer.
Reverend Monshin Paul Naamon is abbot at the Tendai Buddhist Institute in East Chatham. "We become a kind of family of people who gather together. When there are good times or bad times, what do we do? We celebrate or we grieve together. And so I think it's important for all the congregations of the different faiths to get together to do exactly that."
The forum was hosted by Albany County Executive Dan McCoy. "One of the most important reasons to have this dialog is to talk about what's going on in this country, and New York state, which I love so much, and Albany County, we've gone up 90 percent statistics in 2016-2017 for hate crimes. In this nation, we've gone up 57 percent. What's going on? Are we losing this in translation? We're a better nation than this, and for us to come together, we need to have tolerance for all religious people, but have tolerance for each and every one of us. The only way we're gonna do this is have uncomfortable dialogue, and talk about why we don't like something or something bothers us or you have this impression of a certain group of immigrants. And let's talk about it. And let's try to understand one another, and if we do that, these crimes, the crime that's going on, these hate crimes, should go down and we should be able to live, you know, in this country because it is the best country in the world, in harmony."
As they promoted the virtues and values of civility, unity, understanding and atonement, religion took a political shade as each panel member encouraged attendees to use their right to vote as a tool to counter hate. Again, Naamon: "Many of us feel that what has been promulgated nationwide is the result of people not voting in the last election. So it's important for us to get out and just do it. Can we do anything beyond that in terms of national politics, et cetera? Not really, but that's the one thing that we can do."
Another panelist reminded the gathering the 1686 Dongan Charter that recognized Albany as a city set a precedent in promoting "freedom of conscience" and guaranteeing freedom of religion "to all peaceable persons."