Dare to Understand Public Awareness Campaign
We invite you to look back at what Interfaith Philadelphia and our broad-based coalition has accomplished in the face of a hateful anti-Muslim ad campaign in the spring of 2015 and to recognize the myriad ways that we all turned this into a teachable moment:
More than 4,300 people signed the petition standing in solidarity against the ads.
Over 100 people and groups posted #DareToUnderstand photos on social media.
A digital billboard featuring our Dare to Understand photo ad went up along I-76 for the first two weeks of April.
A full back page ad in Metro Philadelphia newspaper displaying Dare to Understand images under the banner "Replace Hate with Understanding" reached over 300,000 readers.
Two urban billboards were displayed in North Philly (Broad and Lehigh) and Center City (9th and Spring Garden) and ran throughout the month of May.
We have distributed Dare to Understand bumper stickers and postcards to thousands of individuals throughout the region.
More than 200 people attended a rally at Love Park with Mayor Nutter announcing the Dare to Understand campaign.
On April 29, 2015, we honored SEPTA and Gino Benedetti at our annual Dare to Understand Awards Benefit and Concert.
And we raised over $109,000 in local foundation grants and individual donations to continue this campaign into the coming year.
We extend our gratitude to the coalition of over 30 groups, in partnership with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, the Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, and the Religious Leaders Council, who convened from October 2014 to May 2015 to develop and oversee a coordinated response.
And that's not all. We also created a resource guide and online education packet for school and faith-based educators equipping them to turn this situation into a teachable moment.
Statement from the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia
Adopted on October 14, 2014; Updated April 7, 2015
In September, a group known as “The American Freedom Defense Initiative” (AFDI) asked to purchase advertising space on SEPTA as part of a campaign that AFDI has pursued in transit systems in several major cities across the country, including New York City, Washington and San Francisco. SEPTA declined, due to the inflammatory anti-Islamic content of the messages. On March 11, Judge Goldberg of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted AFDI’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The four-week ad run began on April 2 and will appear on 84 SEPTA buses.
We affirm the constitutional protection of free speech. That does not diminish our condemnation of irresponsible speech. The language used in these proposed advertisements is distorted, prejudicial, and inflames hatred.
It is our hope as religious leaders that hate-filled messages will not be carried throughout the neighborhoods of Philadelphia on the sides of SEPTA buses, trolleys and subways. We condemn inflammatory messages that serve to divide, stigmatize and incite prejudice. We will continue to reject attempts to stereotype any tradition or community. Working as spiritual leaders and working with the members of the diverse faith and ethnic communities within Philadelphia, our challenge and our hope is to strengthen the ties among all communities to improve the quality of life.
The Religious Leaders Council calls on the greater Philadelphia community to join us in opposing intolerance, and building trust and understanding.
The Religious Leaders Council, founded and staffed by the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, represents 30 religious traditions within our community. It is led by Co-Conveners: Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Rabbi David Straus, Imam Anwar Muhaimin, and Bishop Claire Schenot Burkat.
Other Statements and Press Releases on the Anti-Islamic Ads in Philadelphia