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Column: Group seeks support for manifesto against religious bigotry

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Sept. 16, 2016

A group of prominent Atlantans are seeking support for a Manifesto for Interfaith Cooperation, taking a visible stand against religious bigotry and to advance inclusion of all faiths.

The leaders behind the manifesto include philanthropist Thomas Glenn; the Rev. George Wirth; and Bill Clarkson, retired president of Westminster Schools.

More than 65 people have already signed onto the manifesto including former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, nonprofit leader Bill Bolling, Lillian and Buddy Darden, Michael and Lovette Russell, Larry Gellerstedt III, John and Laura Hardman, Doug Hertz, Jim and Sarah Kennedy, Ann Curry, Rex Fuqua, Sheffield Hale, Steve Hennessey, Soumaya Kalifa, Derreck Kayongo, Robert Franklin, Egbert Perry, A.J. Robinson, Penny McPhee, Alana Shepherd, Clyde Tuggle, Gerald Durley and Plemon El Amin.

Shipman, Franklin and Thomas Glenn

Supporters of the Atlanta Interfaith Manifesto: Doug Shipman, Shirley Franklin and Thomas Glenn (Photo by Maria Saporta)

But not everyone approached signed on.

“I was really puzzled by some of the declines,” Glenn said. “Some who declined didn’t want to be speaking for their organizations. We just believe in getting along with each other. I learned a lot about prejudice from this exercise.”

The manifesto is “not shrill,” Glenn added. The four principles include advancing interfaith cooperation, marshaling religious diversity, celebrating Atlanta’s broader significance and taking a stand.

It also includes a disclaimer saying that it is offering no support for any political figure or specific legislation. “Rather, we reaffirm the importance of religious cooperation in which we, as Americans, respect each other’s right to worship, or not, as we please.”

Clarkson remembers a framed contract from the early 1950s that used to hang at Westminster proclaiming that “only Protestant Christians” could teach at the private school. That policy changed over the decades. “Westminster is learning about the wider view,” Wirth said. “That process is a model for me and how this can happen when you are willing to step up and speak out, listen carefully and to learn. We are talking about citywide initiative here — from all faith traditions and no faith traditions.”

Georgia Historical Society

The Georgia Historical Society has selected two Atlanta business leaders to be its 2017 inductees: A.D. “Pete” Correll and F. Duane Ackerman.

Their induction will take place in February at the GHS Trustees Gala in Savannah, and Gov. Nathan Deal will be doing the honors.

“By appointing these two modern day Georgia Trustees, we honor the work of Pete Correll and Duane Ackerman in both business and philanthropy,” said W. Todd Groce, president and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society. “We look forward to celebrating these two Georgians who are the embodiment of the noble principle upon which the State of Georgia and the Georgia Historical Society were founded, ‘Non Sibi Sed Aliis’ (Not for Self but for Others).”

Correll, a native of Brunswick, served as CEO of Georgia-Pacific for 13 years. He also was instrumental in the stabilizing of Grady Hospital, serving as its board chairman. He also championed the renovation of Ebenezer Baptist Church. Ackerman is the retired chairman and CEO of BellSouth Corp. He has served on the boards of Allstate Corp., United Parcel Service and The Home Depot.

 

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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