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Religious leaders sign Buffalo’s ‘Opportunity Pledge’

Nearly two dozen religious leaders gathered in Niagara Square Wednesday morning to join Mayor Byron W. Brown’s “Opportunity Pledge” encouraging a culture of diversity that supports economic diversity and equality in Buffalo.

Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and R. William Franklin of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York were among the 21 religious leaders who signed the pledge following a short ceremony during which religious leaders from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions spoke.

The religious leaders talked about the importance of everyone in Buffalo benefiting as Buffalo’s economy grows, and also the larger symbolism attached to the pledge.

Malone spoke of a new level of hope occurring in Buffalo. “We want this new hope to be widely embraced,” he said.

“Buffalo and Western New York can take great pride in this signing,” Franklin said. “No longer is racist language acceptable. No long are racist symbols acceptable.”

Added Bishop Michael A. Badger, of the Bethesda World Harvest International Church: “What happens to the least of us determines what happens to the rest of us.”

Brown said 90 organizations and 1,000 individuals have now signed the Opportunity Pledge, and more are expected to pledge their support in coming weeks.

While the pledge is symbolic, the mayor has said communities with a diverse workforce are more economically vibrant than those that are less diverse.