Source: Religion News Service
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2001: Just before giving his speech to the joint session of the US Congress yesterday, President Bush met with an unprecedented array of leaders from across the religious spectrum in the Oval Office on Thursday and prayed for peace, wisdom and strength as America prepares for a war against terrorism. More than two dozen religious leaders -- from Sikhs to Hindus to Buddhists to the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church -- met with Bush for an hour and endorsed a joint statement. "We are grateful that the president has spoken out early and clearly to denounce acts of bigotry, racism and violence directed against Arabs, Muslims and others in our midst who have been erroneously connected to terrorism," the religious leaders said. "To yield to hatred is to give victory to the terrorists." Religious leaders said they were moved by Bush's appeal for prayer and the genuine faith they say he demonstrated during the meeting. Different religious views on war and retaliation did not surface at the meeting, but the religious leaders made clear in their statement that they stand behind Bush in a response "guided by sound moral principles." Uma Mysorekar, president of the Hindu Temple Society of America, (Flushing, New York Ganesha Temple) represented Hinduism at the meeting.