Whether we’re Black or white, Latino or Asian, Native or newcomer, we want our kids to have an education that encourages them to dig deeper into who we are, where we came from and what we’re capable of being. No matter our background, we want our kids to have an education that imparts honesty about who we are, integrity in how we treat others, and courage to do what’s right.

We are people of faith who oppose the fear and aggression expressed by a portion of the public at the RPS school board meeting on July 13. 

We are appalled at the ways people addressed school board members, including shouting, swearing, and flouting board protocol.  We are especially dismayed that the Lord’s Prayer became a weapon, rather than the teaching of Jesus in the gospel according to Matthew. 

The scriptures quote Jesus teaching people to pray in private, not in public; to seek God’s will, not their own; and to ask for forgiveness as they forgive. People shouting a Christian prayer in a school board meeting of a district that serves students of many religions, as well as no religion, goes against all these teachings.

We are deeply concerned about how the people who spoke misunderstand the school district’s mission to provide every young person in Rochester with an education that enables them to think critically, evaluate evidence, and draw reasoned conclusions. These skills are vital to our community, nation, and world.

In particular, the crowd expressed fear and misinformation about critical race theory. Critical race theory is an understanding that who we are, the laws we have in place, the histories that have been handed down to us, have been shaped by race. It’s taught in law school and graduate school to adults. In our public schools, our kids deserve age-appropriate and accurate history lessons, helping them become the critical thinkers we need to make this a more just, prosperous and equitable country.  

Our children must have the tools and guidance to honestly face and understand our past and present in order to create a better future. Fully funded, well-equipped, community-supported public schools are vital. We urge members of our community to reject fear, engage in critical thinking, and participate in respectful dialogue in order to strengthen our schools and community.

Signed by:
Imam Yahye Ahmed
Rev. Paul Bauch, Lead Pastor, Peace United Church of Christ
Rev. David Berg, Pastor, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Rev. Jason Bryan-Wegner, Pastor, Zumbro Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Rev. Jenny Cannon, Pastor, Christ United Methodist Church
Rev. Emily Carson, Pastor, Churchwide (ELCA) 
Rev. Justin P. Chapman, Rector, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
Rev. Dan Doering, Pastor, People of Hope (ELCA)
Rev. Dr. Carl-Eric Gentes, Pastor, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Rev. Andrew Greenhaw, Co Pastor, The Congregational Church UCC
Rev. Luke Hollander, Pastor, Mount Olive Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Rev. Lisa Janke, Pastor, Olive Branch Community (ELCA)
Rev. Winston Janusz, Associate Pastor, Peace United Church of Christ
Imam Siyad Lohos, Masjid AbuhurAira Islamic Center
Imam Salah Mohamed, Masjid AbuhurAira Islamic Center
Imam Mohamed Nur
Rev. Thomas J Parlette, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA)
Michael Resman, Rochester Quaker Meeting
Rev. Kirkland Reynolds, Pastor, Christ United Methodist Church
Rev. Nicole Rockne, Pastor, Our Saviors Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Rev. Marla Rotman, Pastor, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Rev. Jay Rowland, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church
Rev. Beth Royalty, Rector, Calvary Episcopal Church
Rev. Carol Shaffer, Presbyterian minister 
Rev. Shannon Smith, Co Pastor, The Congregational Church UCC
Rev. Luke Stevens-Royer, Minister, First Unitarian Universalist Church
Pastor Gilbert Vargas, Iglesia Cristo El Rey
Rev. Nancy Wheeler Handlon, Associate Pastor, Christ United Methodist Church
Rev. Jan Wiersma, Pastor, Community Presbyterian Church (PCUSA)