Setting aside for now the fashionable topic of the day—Glenn Beck’s self-reinvention over the weekend as a nondenominational religious leader—I’d like to redirect attention from the 300,000 Beck faithful gathered on the national mall to the 17 million people impacted by disastrous flooding in Pakistan, where stagnant water and malnutrition have put 72,000 children at risk of death from disease.
I had worried in a post last week that amidst a surge of American Islamophobia, the Mormon grapevine that usually celebrates Church-sponsored and individual humanitarian relief efforts was eerily silent on Pakistan, which is 97% Muslim. Our capacity to provide humanitarian relief is a great point of pride among LDS people. Since the early twentieth century, the Church has had its own welfare system—complete with ranches, farms, and canning facilities—while the Church’s Humanitarian Services division distributes millions of pounds of relief supplies annually, including emergency kits hand assembled by Mormons at local church meetings.
So I was thrilled to receive news that the Church has partnered with International Medical Corps, International Relief and Development, and Saba Aslam Welfare and Trust to purchase supplies within Pakistan for redistribution to flood-impacted areas, with additional shipments from the Humanitarian Relief Center in Salt Lake City forthcoming.
And I was especially heartened to see the Church teaming with Islamic charities to provide relief, as it did during the Haitian earthquake crisis, when it partnered with Islamic Relief USA to send food and medical supplies.
The Church has its reasons—religious reasons—for being modest about humanitarian efforts, as it has explained here. And I had suspected all along that the LDS Church would have been proceeding on the Pakistan crisis in its characteristically quiet way. But when our largely conservative faith community risks being drawn into a misdirected national fit of antipathy against Muslims, it is even more significant to hear from Church headquarters that all peoples are deserving of service, compassion, and kindness.