Rendell said the World Trade Center was itself a symbol of religious tolerance, having set aside two places for Muslims to use for their daily prayers. Two weeks after the towers fell, he said, a service was held within sight of one of those spots to honor Muslims who had died in the 2001 attacks.
"Nobody objected," Rendell said. "There was not one word of dissent because back then we were united, we were not Muslims, Jews, Christians - we were Americans. Today we're here ... because there are those who seek to divide us, whether in Florida or New York or Tennessee."
Although a Florida pastor had called off plans to burn copies of the Quran, Rendell said the damage had been done, prompting violence in Afghanistan and Egypt.
"I believe things got so bad because there are people who seek to advance their own agenda by doing this and because the good people who know that this is wrong, who know that this is not what America stands for, too often have remained silent," Rendell said. He said he wanted to gather with Muslim leaders and those of other faiths "to say, this isn't the values that we represent."
"I believe the majority of Americans stand with us tonight," he told the crowd of about 100 people. "If one of us is attacked because of our religion, all of us can be attacked because of our religion."
Seven of the religious leaders also spoke briefly, reading passages from the Bible, Torah and Quran.
Sheik Imam Mohammed Shehata, Al-Aqsa Islamic Society, recited verses in Arabic, which Marwan Kreidie, founder of the Philadelphia Arab-American Community Development Corporation, translated as saying messengers of God have included Abraham, Moses, Jesus and the prophet Muhammad himself.
"Each one believes in God and his angels, and his books and his messengers. We make no divisions between any of his messengers. They say, 'We hear, and we obey,"' Kreidie said.
Rendell said, "Hard to believe anyone would want to burn a book that has passages like that."