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Common Good: Interfaith Action in Response to Violence & Injustice

5:30 PM
Village Presbyterian Church

Common Good: Interfaith Action in Response to Violence & Injustice

5:30 PM
Village Presbyterian Church

“Common Good” was a fact-based, civil conversation about how faith communities can work together to respond to the violence and injustice of tragic events such as those in Charlottesville, Sutherland Springs, and in our own backyard of Overland Park in 2014 and Olathe in 2017. Representatives of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity discussed the issue and took questions from the audience.


Dr. Eric Elnes is a biblical scholar with a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is also a leading articulator of Convergence Christianity and Senior Minister of Countryside Community Church (UCC) in Omaha, NE. Eric has written several books on faith, theology and culture including, The Phoenix Affirmations: A New Vision for the Future of Christianity (Jossey-Bass, 2006) and a book on experiential worship called Igniting Worship: The Seven Deadly Sins (Abingdon, 2004).

In 2006, Eric also helped lead a 2,500 mile walk from Phoenix to Washington, DC, to promote awareness of progressive/emerging Christian faith and practice and meet with Christians at a grassroots to hear their hopes and dreams for the future of faith in America. His journey, which is the subject of a feature-length film, The Asphalt Gospel, is recounted in his book, Asphalt Jesus: Finding a New Christian Faith on the Highways of America (Jossey-Bass, 2007).

Elnes lives as an “empty nester” in Omaha with his wife, Melanie, dog Roe, and cat Tamar. They have two college-age daughters, Arianna and Maren.

Martez “Ayub” Davis, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, accepted Islam at the age of twelve then moved to Hadramout, Yemen at the age of sixteen. While in Yemen he studied Quran and Islam from their original texts and became fluent in the Arabic language. He returned to the US in 2010 and became an Imam in Duluth, GA where he served its suburbs and surrounding cities for seven years. In November 2018 he moved to Kansas City, MO to become the Imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City where he serves a diverse community of Muslims from all over the world. He is married and has two young children.

Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein is a community leader, ritual facilitator, and beloved teacher of spiritual practices based in Philadelphia. She has a gift for holding the space for individuals and groups to discover their resilience, courage, and deep knowing. Rabbi Klein traveled to Charlottesville, VA, the weekend of August 12 as part of a delegation of rabbis from T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. She keeps a blog at


Msgr. Stuart W. Swetland, S.T.D., was ordained a priest in 1991 for the Diocese of Peoria, IL. He received his undergraduate degree in Physics from the United States Naval Academy. Elected a Rhodes Scholar in 1981, he entered the Catholic Church while studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford. He has a B.A. and M.A. from Oxford; a M.Div. and M.A. from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary; and his S.T.L. and S.T.D. from the Pontifical Lateran University having studied at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, DC. He has an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Benedictine College in Atchison, KS.

He currently serves as the seventh President of Donnelly College in Kansas City, KS, where he is also Professor of Leadership and Christian Ethics. Previously, he served as Vice President for Catholic Identity and Mission and held the Archbishop Flynn Chair of Christian Ethics at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD. He has also served as the Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, the Executive Secretary for the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and Theological Advisor to the Illinois Catholic Conference. Msgr. Swetland was named a Prelate of Honor in 2000 by Saint John Paul II and is a Knight Commander for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchure and a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus.

Msgr. Swetland hosts the television show Catholicism on Campus on EWTN and Go Ask Your Father on Relevant Radio.


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injustice (noun) The fact of a situation being unfair and of people not being treated equally; an unfair act or an example of unfair treatment. Source

hate crime (noun) A crime, typically one involving violence, that is motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other grounds. Source


  • HATE CRIMES IN THE U.S. (2016)

    In 2016, 6,121 hate crimes were reported in the U.S.—a 5% increase from 2015, and a 10% increase from 2014 Source

    Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry bias

    • 57.5% of total incidents
    • 50.2% were anti-Black or African American
    • 20.7% were anti-White
    • 10.6% were anti-Hispanic or Latino

    Religious bias

    • 21% of total incidents
    • 54.2% were anti-Jewish

    In 2016, law enforcement reported a total of 7,615 victims of hate crimes. Of those, 4,720 were victims of crimes against persons, and 2,813 were victims of crimes against property. Source



    There are 585 hate groups in the United States that target religion, race, and sexual orientation. Overall, the number of hate groups have risen 30% since 2014. Source, Map

    • Anti-Immigrant—14
    • Anti-LGBT—52 (1 KS, 1 MO)
    • Ku Klux Klan—130 (4 MO)
    • Skinheads—78 (1 KS, 1 MO)
    • Neo-Nazi—99 (2 MO)
    • White Nationalist—100
    • Anti-Muslim—101 (1 KS, 2 MO)
    • Anti-Semitic—21



    Overall, 61% of Americans say the country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites, compared to 35% who say the country has made the changes needed to give blacks equal rights with whites. Source

    • 81% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning people say the country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites.
    • 36% of Republicans and Republican-leaning people say the country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites.
    • 61% of Democrat-leaners and 14% of Republican-leaners say that racial discrimination is the main reason why many black people can’t get ahead economically.

    99% of Democrat-leaning and 64% of Republican-leaning groups say that immigrants strengthen society and America’s identity as a nation. Source

    In 2018, 74% of Americans favor granting permanent legal status to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children, but 60% oppose a proposal to “substantially expand the wall alongthe U.S. border with Mexico.” Source

    By 2040, Muslims will replace Jews as the nation’s second-largest religious group after Christians. By 2050, the U.S. Muslim population is projected to reach 8.1 million, or 2.1% of the nation’s total population. Source

    In 2016, roughly half of the public believe that at least “some” U.S. Muslims are anti-American, including 11% who say “most” or “almost all” U.S. Muslims are anti-American and 14% who think “about half” the U.S. Muslim population is anti-American. Source

    In 2017, 43% of Americans say Islam is a part of “mainstream American society,” while 50% of Americans say it is not. Source