Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Heeding the Call: A Program on Justicemaking for Junior High School Youth

Alternate Activity 2: Standing Up

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Write the sixth Principle on newsprint if it is not posted

Description of Activity

Youth examine how the sixth Principle aligns with a real-world experience of taking a stand for justice. This situation is based on real events and was adapted from an article by Mark Steel, a socialist author, comedian, and columnist for one of Britain's largest newspapers, The Independent.

The latest slogan that the far-right groups in Britain are marching under is 'Stop the Islamification of England.' But how many people have had their lives Islamified against their will? Is there a single tea shop owner in Dorset, England who has to tell her customers: 'Sorry dear, we're not allowed to serve a scone until after dark as it's Ramadan'? Do radio stations have to start the day: 'Good morning, this is BBC Radio Sussex calling you to prayer.'? So in September 2009, when the English Defense League, a far-right political group, announced a protest of this 'Islamification of England' outside of a mosque in Harrow, England, what was the community to do?

Invite participants to imagine there is a mosque in their town, and a political group has announced a protest outside that mosque. Brainstorm actions they could take to ally with the local Muslim community.

After a list has been created, read what actually happened:

So what actually happened in Harrow, England? We'll never know how many conversations occurred at dinner tables with children asking questions and parents figuring out their own "stuff"-their own biases and fears-as they discussed the issue. We'll never know how many people (who really just wanted to stay home and watch television) actually listened to their friends-really, really listened-to the reasons why it was important to take a stand. We'll never know how many carpools had to be arranged and how many people had to take time off from work, but what we do know is that about 2,000 people showed up at the mosque to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community. As the 2,000 supporters created a barrier around the mosque, the much smaller protest of the far-right group vanished. And, as Mark Steel reported, "the local population has apparently tingled with excitement ever since."

End the activity with a discussion about the outcome:

  • How did you feel after learning the outcome? (Were you inspired? Surprised?) Our sixth Principle affirms and promotes the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. Does taking a stand outside of one mosque affirm and promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all?
  • What if only 200 (instead of 2,000) people showed up? What about 20? What about 2? In terms of the sixth Principle, is there a difference between a protest of 2,000 and a protest of only a couple of people?