Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters

[The Episcopal News] Calling for peacemaking amid multifaceted conflicts, a group of members of the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders – including Bishop John Harvey Taylor of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles – issued an April 23 statement deploring recent violence against worshipers at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque and the Easter Day defacing of the Islamic Center of Southern California. Full text of the statement follows here.

As the holy season of Ramadan comes to an end, the undersigned members of the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders join in deploring Israeli police violence against peaceful worshipers in the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on two occasions two weeks ago. Freedom of worship is a basic human right. Jerusalem should be a place of peaceful prayer for all who follow in the Abrahamic tradition – Jews, Christians, and Muslims. We especially deplore the desecration occurring as Passover, Holy Week, and Ramadan coincided.

As with the broader struggle between Israelis and Palestinians, the situation on al-Haram al-Sharif/the Temple Mount is tense and complex, with a history of provocation and violence on both sides. But these particular events resulted in indelible images, transmitted all over the world, of worshipers shoved and beaten while at prayer. This was the third consecutive Ramadan when Israeli police harassed Muslim worshipers, though this year’s violence was by far the worst.

Close to home, a suspect was arrested and charged with defacing the Islamic Center of Southern California on Easter Day. We deplore all such acts of hatred, including acts of antisemitism, especially when our neighbors are inflamed by events in the Middle East. No matter how intractable the problems, no matter how remote the prospects for all people in the region enjoying freedom, security, peace, and national self-determination, we resolve, as faith leaders, to continue to stand up for peace and love as the eternal, divinely ordained responses to violence and hatred.


    • Reverend Linda L. Culbertson – Pacific Presbytery
    • Archbishop Hovnan Derderian – Western Diocese of the Armenian Church
    • Randolph Dobbs – Los Angeles Bahá’í Center
    • Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker – AME Church, Social Action Commission
    • Bishop Dottie Escobedo-Frank – California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church
    • Grant J. Hagiya – Claremont School of Theology
    • Nirinjan Singh Khalsa – Sikh Community
    • Omar Ricci – Islamic Center of Southern California
    • Father Alexei R. Smith – Archdiocese of Los Angeles
    • Hedab Tarifi – Islamic Center of Southern California
    • Bishop John Harvey Taylor – Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles
    • Reverend Dr. Allen L. Williams, Sr. – AME Church