“It’s okay for somebody to not have the same beliefs we do," said James McGee with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office.
That was the message at the Memorial for Victims of Terrorism on Sunday.
Lake Area residents from the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths came together at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Lake Charles to promote unity.
“As some of the massacres were happening in other churches and around the world, we began to sense that we need to build community even more here between the different religions," said Nanette Cagney.
Cagney is the pastor at St. Andrew. She said she knows it’s a problem that can’t be solved overnight, but the service was a good first step.
“We need to stand together. We will probably never agree with each other doctrinally, but we can respect each other.”
“It’s a shame that we wait until tragedies happen to come together, but this is a good step," said Malak Chabcoun.
Chabcoun was a speaker for the Islamic Society.
She said change is something that has to start from within, and then it will spread outwards.
“Challenging our preconceived notions, challenging our own biases; that’s where it starts," Chabcoun said. "So, start at home. Start having those conversations at home, at work, where you have an impact.”
It’s a change that won’t come easily, but the memorial was a clear sign that the Lake Area is ready to start the movement towards a more peaceful and accepting community.
“We must learn to live with one another, listen to one another and accept one another," said Mark Wygoda with Temple Sinai.