Jul 22 2016
"Clergy in this country have a powerful role to play in advocating for public policy positions. Nothing in the Johnson amendment prevents that. What the amendment does do is prevent our tax-exempt houses of worship from being used for strictly partisan purposes – this in no different than any other tax exempt group.
"Allowing houses of worship into political campaigns will damage religious freedom by inviting the rewards and punishments of patronage into the pulpit. Do worshipers believe that tearing down the wall between religion and government will allow endorsements to flow only one way? Nonsense. Keeping partisan politics out of religion is every bit as important as keeping religion out of politics. I urge Mr. Trump to reconsider this position. The campaign to revoke the Johnson rule should put every person of faith on notice and reaffirm their commitment to stopping political endorsements from the pulpit."
Interfaith Alliance Raises Concerns about Partisan Benediction at the Republican National Convention
Jul 18 2016
Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President Rabbi Jack Moline issued the following statement in response to the highly partisan benediction offered by Pastor Mark Burns today at the opening of the Republican National Convention. Interfaith Alliance is a non-partisan organization that seeks to keep politicians from misusing religion for political purposes.
“I have rarely heard a more inappropriate contribution to political proceedings as the benediction by Pastor Mark Burns at the opening session of the Republican National Convention. The idea that a member of the clergy would invoke his God’s name and, in the next breath, declare the candidate from the other party to be the enemy seems to be an attempt to replace ‘nomination’ with ‘ordination.’ However, invoking religion to launch such attacks devalues faith and disrespects the people of the United States who are hoping for a debate on the issues, not an ‘ex cathedra’ pronouncement. Republican delegates should decline to respond ‘amen.’”
Religious Freedom Center and Interfaith Alliance condemn Newt Gingrich’s proposal to deport American Muslims who practice Sharia law as unconstitutional, misinformed and dangerous
Jul 15 2016
WASHINGTON -- Newt Gingrich’s proposal to deport American Muslims who practice Sharia law is both unconstitutional and dangerous, according to the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, and Interfaith Alliance. The two organizations jointly produced the resource “What is the Truth about American Muslims?” which explains Sharia in broad terms and dispels myths around it.
“This sweeping and inaccurate attack on American Muslims is an assault on religious freedom,” said Dr. Charles C. Haynes, founding director of the Religious Freedom Center. “Demonizing Islam fuels hostility and hate — and only serves the cause of extremists who commit violence in the name of religion.”
In the hours after the attacks in Nice, France, a Muslim Community Center in Rhode Island was vandalized. Once again, many American Muslims are fearful that they will be the targets of a backlash in the coming days.
“Unfortunately, there are some who are all too eager to use this moment to demonize the Muslim community,” said Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance. “Newt Gingrich’s comments are an affront to everything we stand for as Americans. I question whether anyone who makes such a proposal has even a basic understanding of the First Amendment.”
As explained in “What is the Truth about American Muslims?” Sharia stands for Islamic or sacred law. Sharia is overwhelmingly concerned with personal religious observances such as prayer and fasting. Just as many observant Jews follow Halakha, many observant Muslims follow some aspect of Sharia. The full document, which was endorsed by more than 20 organizations committed to protecting religious freedom, may be downloaded at: http://bit.ly/sharia-rfc).
For centuries, Muslim scholars have given a broad definition of Sharia, reflecting the diversity of interpretations on how Muslims have attempted to best understand and practice their faith. The general definition of Sharia as understood by most American Muslims is as follows:
- Sharia represents how practicing Muslims can best lead their daily lives in accordance with God’s divine guidance
- It may be generally defined as the Islamic law revealed by God to the Prophet Muhammad
- That divine law was then interpreted by Muslim scholars over the centuries
- Among the primary aims of the Sharia are the achievement of justice, fairness and mercy
“What is the Truth about American Muslims?” explains the sources of Sharia law and the diverse and dynamic interpretations and applications of Sharia law. The vast majority of American Muslims see no conflict between their religious obligations and values and the U.S. legal system.
“To single out religious practices and beliefs of any religion for government regulation is not only unlawful, it is un-American. The U.S. Constitution guarantees religious freedom for people of all religions and none,” said Haynes.
“These are dangerous times that call for real leadership and a sophisticated understanding of the complex world we live in. By making these statements, Newt Gingrich has proven himself to be incapable of either,” added Moline.
A full list of organizations that endorsed “What is the Truth about American Muslims?” includes:
- African American Ministers Leadership Council
- Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
- Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
- Friends Committee on National Legislation
- Institute for Social Policy and Understanding
- Islamic Networks Group
- Islamic Society of North America
- Muslim Public Affairs Council
- National Religious Campaign Against Torture
- New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
- People For the American Way Foundation
- Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
- Queens Federation of Churches
- Rabbis for Human Rights-North America
- Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
- Secular Coalition for America
- Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
- Sikh Coalition
- Southern Poverty Law Center
- Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
- United Church of Christ United Methodist Church
- General Board of Church and Society
About the Religious Freedom Center
The Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute is a nonpartisan national initiative focused on educating the American public about the religious liberty principles of the First Amendment. We envision a world committed to religious freedom as an inalienable right for all people. In carrying out this vision, our mission is to educate the public about the history, meaning and significance of religious freedom and to promote dialogue and understanding among people of all religions and none.
Jul 15 2016
WASHINGTON – Following the terrorist attack in Nice, France, Interfaith Alliance president Rabbi Jack Moline released the following statement offering condolences to the people of France and condemnation of remarks made by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that demonize Muslims:
“The horrifying terrorist attack in Nice is an incomprehensible act that makes us all feel vulnerable. When we feel vulnerable we are often inclined to make poor decisions, but doing so only serves the purpose of the perpetrators of this heinous act.
“We stand in solidarity with the people of France and all those who have been victimized by terror. We honor their memory by standing firm in our efforts to combat extremism, whatever its origin, without trampling on the rights of the Muslim community, or any other community.
“Unfortunately, there are some who are all too eager to use this moment to demonize the Muslim community. Newt Gingrich’s call to test 'every person who is of a Muslim background,' to determine whether he or she believes in Sharia is an affront to everything we stand for as Americans. It is a scare tactic aimed at radicalizing a segment of our population that has been wrongly taught to fear Muslims, which has become a competitive sport among extremist elements in right-wing American politics. I question whether anyone who makes such a proposal has even a basic understanding of the First Amendment.
“These are dangerous times that call for real leadership and a sophisticated understanding of the complex world we live in. Newt Gingrich has proven himself to be incapable of either.”