We would like to offer our profound condolences to the family and loved ones of those killed in Charleston, South Carolina. This heinous act of violence assaults the very heart of all religious communities of good will committed to reaching out and opening their doors to all.

In response to the tragedy, President Barack Obama stated, “hatred across races and faiths poses a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.” While deeply pained, we remain resolved to upholding the highest ideals of the pluralistic American vision and building a culture of peace.

Mass shootings have become an all too common occurrence on American soil. We feel the need to acknowledge this and call on our fellow citizens to reflect on the root causes that produce it and take unified action transcending partisan politics. As Dr. King reflected during his eulogy for the four girls murdered in a Birmingham Church, “we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, and the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly to make the American Dream a reality.”

As a Soka Gakkai Nichiren Buddhist community, we feel a deep calling to reach out to others. It is our conviction that open dialogue among people is the key to the harmonious solidarity of humankind. In this spirit, we will continue to support opportunities for meaningful encounters between people of all backgrounds. We will deepen our understanding of one another and strengthen the fabric of our communities.