White HouseWritten by Don Byrd

[UPDATE 2/4/16: You can access the President’s address here.]

On Wednesday, President Obama will visit a mosque in Baltimore, his first trip to a U.S. mosque during his presidency. The event comes at a time when American Muslims are experiencing heightened abuse and discrimination. In a welcome response to this trend, the President will use the occasion to highlight the need for religious tolerance and understanding.

The Washington Post reports:

The president is making the visit “to celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life,”  a White House official wrote in an email Saturday. “The President believes that one of our nation’s greatest strengths is our rich diversity and the very idea that Americans of different faiths and backgrounds can thrive together – that we’re all part of the same American family. As the President has said, Muslim Americans are our friends, and neighbors; our co-workers, and sports heroes – and our men and women in uniform defending our country.”

Both statistical and anecdotal reports suggest that anti-Muslim attacks and rhetoric has increased in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernadino. 

The Baptist Joint Committee has joined a campaign called Know Your Neighbor to encourage interfaith dialogue as one means of combating the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment. It is nice to see the President also addressing this tragic development on his agenda this week. Stay tuned.