Members of Spokane's Interfaith Council pose for a selfie with Bernie Sanders/Contributed

Sanders meets with Interfaith Council, faith leaders in Spokane

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By Tracy Simmons

A Snapchat from the Bernie Sanders campaign
A Snapchat from the Bernie Sanders campaign

As he passed through Spokane for the second time in a week, Sen. Bernie Sanders met privately with members of the Spokane Interfaith Council and a handful of local faith leaders.

In a 20-minute meeting before giving a public speech at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, Sanders addressed the ethics of income inequality, political revolution, anti-Islam rhetoric and the need for grassroots organizations — like the Interfaith Council.

“Anybody who reaches out and wants to have a conversation about building community and interfaith work, we’ll definitely take them up on it,” said Interfaith Council President Skyler Oberst. “Other candidates have come through and have not reached out to us to engage.”

Sanders said many of the policy issues currently being discussed, such as climate change, are “moral principles.”

“The truth is these are issues of justice, decency and equality,” he said.

When asked by local Muslim and Interfaith Council member Ayesha Malik about recent statements made by GOP candidates to crack down on all Muslims, Sanders said what Donald Trump, specifically, is saying is problematic.

“What Trump and others have been saying, the idea that somehow we’re at war with a religion, rather than a terrorist organization is outrageous and certainly not what this country is about,” Sanders said.

Malik said his words were satisfying, but weren’t surprising.

“I already knew that was going to be his response because I’ve been watching videos of him online, so I just wanted to hear him address it to me personally so I can hold it to him,” she said. “God willing he’ll be accepted into office and I’m hoping when he’s in office he will work on some interfaith initiatives.”

Sanders closed his meeting with faith leaders by promising to work toward unity.

“We’re gonna fight for an America where we do away with this scapegoating, whether it’s Muslims, whether it’s Latinos, whether it’s blacks, whether it’s gays, whatever it may be,” he said. “It’s our job to bring us all together.”

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. She serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and for the Religion News Service. She is also a Journalism Instructor at Washington State University.

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3 comments

  1. Did he share anything different than Hillary would of said?

  2. Next time, invite the JFS guy!

  3. This picture > pretty much everything today.

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