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The Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Launches A Companion Curriculum to Ken Burns' New Film

As we witness ideological divide and xenophobic, inflammatory rhetoric in the news, the need for collaborative work between groups from different faith traditions to heal ailing society is growing stronger every day. The Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Theological School (Unitarian Universalist) has developed a curriculum, We Who Defy Hate: An Interfaith Preparation for Social Justice Action, a companion tool to the soon-to-be-released documentary co-directed by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky, Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War.

The film features an American Unitarian minister and his wife, Waitstill and Martha Sharp, who left their children behind and boldly committed to multiple life-threatening missions in Europe. Over two years they helped to save hundreds of imperiled political dissidents and Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi occupation across Europe. Today, Unitarian Universalists carry on their legacy.

“The Sharps’ story is inspiring modern day faith leaders to action. Unitarian Universalists are partnering with Jews, Christians and Muslims to carry on the Sharps’ legacy by standing up against religious bigotry, Islamophobia and indifference in the face of today’s refugee crises. Hundreds of actions are being planned for the book and film’s release across the country through the Defying the Nazis UU Action Project. The Unitarian Universalist Association, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and Meadville Lombard Theological School are encouraging all UUs and multi-faith partners to honor the Sharps by working to advance the values for which they sacrificed,” said Rev. Dr. William F. Schulz, UUSC President and a faculty member of Meadville Lombard. “The Sharps answered the call of their faith, risking their life to save others. Their selfless dedication to a more just world is an example for Unitarian Universalists and all who care about human rights.” 

The curriculum We Who Defy Hate, co-written by social justice educators Dr. Jenice L. View and Dr. Mark A. Hicks, is designed to support people of different faith traditions who want to find places of common ground and solidarity in the service of social action.  Hicks notes “Today, we see lots of evidence of how difficult it is for faith communities to reach across cultural gaps.  We have found that good intentions are not enough; faith communities need specific strategies in order to re-learn how to bridge those gaps.” View adds, “While the Sharps were truly heroic they were also regular people, capable of the same courage and contradictions as we. The work that is to be done—interfaith social justice action—is available to all of us if we choose it."  The curriculum’s detailed, experiential exercises model how faith communities can reassess their commitments in order to act—and challenge others to act—each day from a place of moral courage and good will. 

The curriculum is available to download here as well as at www.defyingthenazis.org