PASADENA, Calif. (KTLA) — An Episcopal church in Pasadena has been getting hate mail over its decision to host the annual convention of a Muslim American civil rights group.
All Saints Church in Pasadena will host the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s 12th annual convention on Dec. 15, which is expected to draw about 1,000 people.
A united front of various religious leaders held a news conference at All Saints on Tuesday as a show of solidarity.
The famously-liberal church is used to criticism, but church officials say they’re taken aback by the messages they’ve received about the convention.
One of the threats compared Muslims to Nazis and called them “Body Snatchers,” according to Rev. Susan Russell, senior associate for communications at All Saints.
Another quote reads, “You are Consorting with the Enemy that is Killing Christians Worldwide.”
According to Rev. Susan Russell, the hateful messages were partly prompted by a post online from the Institute for Religion and Democracy, a conservative think tank.
“We want to light a candle of hope as Christians this Advent season that people of different faiths can stand in solidarity against polarization and for mobilization around our common values,” Russell said.
MPAC President Salam al-Marayati echoed that message, saying All Saints was chosen to provide an example of positive Muslim-Christian dialogue.
“When we approached Rev. Ed Bacon to have the convention here, he opened this church, which to us is a safe space for conversations,” al-Marayati said.
“This is what we have to say to the fear mongers: We want to convert you,” he continued.
“We don’t want to convert you to our religions, but we want to convert you so we can remove the hatred and prejudice in your hearts and replace it with understanding and security.”
Organizers say they’re working with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to make sure the convention is a safe place.