AEU Statement on Terrorist Assaults in Sri Lanka

The American Ethical Union, humanists, and all people of good will recoil at the recent terrorist attacks on Catholic Churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. The death total approaches 300 and more than 500 people have been injured. As such, this loss of human life is the most extensive in terrorist attacks since those of September 11th, 2001.

While at this time the perpetrators remain unidentified, what emerges is the escalation of assaults on minorities in light of the weakening of the norms of secular governance which at their best enable a societal environment of pluralism, tolerance and protection of religious, racial, and religious minorities. As such, space is widened for the flourishing of xenophobia and violence.

Tragically this is a movement which is spreading worldwide. We witness it in places as far afield as India, and in sectors of the Muslim world that are becoming increasingly Islamicized. Religious forces have merged closer to governments in Russia, Israel, and-in the growth of right-wing nationalist movements-in parts of Eastern Europe and Western societies, leading to anti-immigrant fervor. The current administration in Washington is aligned with this ominous international trend.

The Ethical Culture Movement, while acknowledging the importance of local identities, fervently commits itself to universal values and secular norms of governance as providing the best framework for mitigating inter-group hatred. We call upon political, religious leaders, and those voices influential in creating public policy across the globe, to speak out against the forces of parochialism, tribalism and fanaticism while reaffirming instrumentally the importance of secular values by which to organize society and restore environments of civility and inclusion.