In 2017 Faith in Public Life worked to build relationships and counter the spread of hate, scapegoating, and incivility in South Dakota through our project “Love Your Neighbor, No Exceptions.” Our activities encouraged civil discourse, compassion, and solidarity with South Dakotans who can be perceived as “others” because of their color, ethnic or national origin, immigration status, or religion. Through extensive media outreach including a PSA on local network and cable stations as well as op-eds and interviews, well-known, local Christian and Muslim religious leaders urged other South Dakotans to remember Jesus’ command to love their neighbors, to welcome the foreigner, and to speak with honesty about others. We held a full- day training with over fifty clergy members from across the state, providing them with accurate information, resources, and educational and sermon ideas to take back to their own congregations to speak out and act against scapegoating and bigotry. And we supported congregations throughout the state, funding local projects to build relationships with members of communities vulnerable to hate speech and acts, remembering Jesus’ call to love all of our neighbors. Finally, we reached out to evangelicals as well, bringing a popular evangelical author and speaker to the community to speak to conservative Christians and share a message that their God loves people of all religions, colors and creeds.
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