Religions Speak up on Paris Tragedy and War Against Terror

Following the Paris terror attacks, religious organizations express solidarity with France on social media.

As the world struggles to make sense of the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, religious leaders step up and make known their solidarity with France and the fight against terror. The recent Bataclan massacre is said to be “the deadliest acts of violence the city has seen since the World War II.” At least 129 people have been confirmed dead, while 352 wounded in the attacks, including 99 who are in serious condition. The attacks targeted the heart of Paris, including a concert hall, the Stade de France and at least two restaurants.

Witnesses reported that the attackers yelled “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is Great”) as the siege was carried out. Terrorists used semi-automatic weapons and suicide bombs, and all eight attackers are reported dead. While many try to understand the reason for such senseless atrocities, religions all throughout the globe pull together and do what they can to help with the devastating aftermath.

Pope Francis spoke up against the “inhuman” display of violence in Paris, calling it a “piecemeal World War III.” “There is no justification for these things,” he said. The Pope expressed empathy and love for France at this trying time, and invited the Catholic community to pray for the victims and their families: “I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them. Faced with the violence of men, we can receive the grace of a steadfast heart without hate.” He also said the using God’s name as a justification for violence is “blasphemy.”

Several major world religions took to social media to show their unity with France as they pick up the pieces after the tragic attack. The United Methodist Church posted a simple “United with Paris” message while the United States Presbyterian church posted a “call to prayer.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the attack in Paris, France. #UMC

Posted by The United Methodist Church on Friday, November 13, 2015

Written by the Rev. Dr. Laurie Ann Kraus, the Presbyterian prayer says, “We pray for neighbors in Paris, in Beirut, in Baghdad, who, in the midst of the grace of ordinary life – while at work, or at play, have been violently assaulted, their lives cut off without mercy…. We ask for sustaining courage for those who are suffering; wisdom and diligence among global and national agencies and individuals assessing threat and directing relief efforts; and for our anger and sorrow to unite in service to the establishment of a reign of peace, where the lion and the lamb may dwell together, and terror will not hold sway over our common life.”

In the wake of Nov. 13 terror attacks that shocked and traumatized a city, a nation, and the world, Presbyterians across…

Posted by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Monday, November 16, 2015

Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church responded to the events on Saturday, sending “heartfelt prayers” to Parisians.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also expressed their love and support for French people, as French flags flown on Church buildings around Temple Square. On the Mormon Newsroom, their statement is found: “We pray for those affected, for their families and loved ones, for the leaders of nations and most especially for the people of France as they struggle to recover from the violence and loss they are feeling so deeply. We have directed that flags on Temple Square be flown at half staff, and that the French Flag be flown here as an expression of our love and support for them.” They called the Mormon congregation to join them in prayer.

Saturday, November 14, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following…

Posted by Mormon Newsroom on Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Church of Scientology stated “France, our thoughts are with you” on their official Facebook page, to which Scientologists responded with their agreement and solidarity.

France, our thoughts are with you. France, nos pensées sont avec vous. #Paris #ParisAttacks

Posted by Scientology on Friday, November 13, 2015

In a similar fashion, the Dalai Lama condemned the terror attacks on Paris, but differed slightly in his message. He emphasized the need for action alongside praying: “People want to lead peaceful lives. The terrorists are short-sighted, and this is one of the causes of rampant suicide bombings. We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.” He promoted a “systematic approach to foster humanistic values of oneness and harmony,” something that must be done immediately. “Let us work for peace with our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments.”

Muslim leaders from around the world likewise expressed their condemnation of the “barbaric attacks.” Muslims from all walks of life, including imams, scholars and commentators showed their grief and horror in social media. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community rebuked the attacks in a statement: “The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community offers its deepest condolences to the people of France and government. The innocent victims of these barbaric attacks and their families are in our thoughts and prayers.” The Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre and Chair of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council offered prayer. “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris and every other place on earth plagued by sick men with weapons and bombs,” Imam Umar Al-Qadri said. “Terrorists have no religion whatsoever. Their religion is intolerance, hatred for Peace.”

Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, echoed Al-Qadri’s rejection of ISIS.  He asserted, “there is nothing Islamic about such people and their actions are evil, and outside the boundaries set by our faith.”

Several other Islam leaders stepped forward to emphasize their rejection of ISIS. In the United States, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) offered their thoughts and prayers for France and called the attacks “savage and despicable,” stating that they “condemn these horrific crimes in the strongest terms possible.”

In such a devastating time that bewilders logic and crushes the human spirit, unity in diversity is an antidote to the confusion and pain that ensues from such traumatic events. While the words of religious leaders provide a spiritual blanket to assuage the sorrow of those left behind, whether they subscribe to a religion or not, the resolve to fight terrorism and the evils it conjures becomes stronger and endures.

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