On Wednesday, January 6, we at the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington were shocked and angered over the insurrection at the Capitol. Like people of goodwill throughout the DC area, we condemn such violence in our community in the strongest possible terms. All eleven of our faith traditions proclaim the virtue of peaceful resolutions to conflict and differences of opinion. To see so many people choose the path of violence — and for many of them to do so in the name of their faith — was at once heartbreaking and infuriating.

Adding to the grief is that this all took place on Epiphany, a day when diverse Christians celebrate the story of the Wise Men coming to visit the infant Jesus and his parents. The Wise Men (or Magi) were described in Christian scriptures as being “from the East,” and they are traditionally thought to be Zoroastrian. This story is therefore one of the most important examples of interfaith cooperation and understanding in the Christian New Testament, when people of differing ethnicities and faiths came together to celebrate the sacred in their midst. As the day was unfolding for Christians this week, though, rioters at the Capitol were violating the spirit of cooperation across lines of difference through immoral and illegal means.

We as a nation must be better than this if we are to live up to our founders’ ideals that this be a nation where diversity of belief and perspective are valued. Here at the IFC, we remain committed to bringing people together across lines of difference through education, community building, and advocacy for freedom and equity. Whatever the coming days hold, we at the IFC stand firm in our belief that our metro area can be a shining beacon of hope to the nation by demonstrating that we can live together in peace because of our beliefs, not in spite of them.