In 2012, SOUTH DAKOTA FAITH IN PUBLIC LIFE members responded to the increasing fear of, and prejudice against Muslims as a religious group (Islamophobia). Our research began with the sharing of fears and misperceptions, and research documenting an anti-Muslim industry on the Internet. Our study included discussion of case studies published by The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, and a series of four conversations with local Muslim physicians who had recently developed The Muslim’s Community Center of South Dakota.
The public action phase of our study included our co-sponsoring an open house and tour at the new Muslims’ Community Center of South Dakota, each member inviting 5 interested community leaders, bringing over 60 non-Muslim community and religious leaders to the Center. This gathering was the first of its kind in the state of SD.
After studying anti-sharia legislation passed in several states, including South Dakota, we drafted a letter to Governor Dennis Daugaard voicing our opposition to anti-sharia laws, and invited the local bishops and judicatory heads of several denominations to join us in signing the letter. Signatories included the judicatory heads of the SD Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the SD Conference of the United Church of Christ, the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota.