Interfaith Alliance Disappointed in Ruling Finding “Moral Exemption” for March For Life from Contraception Mandate
Sep 02 2015
WASHINGTON – On Monday, August 31, Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that March for Life, a secular nonprofit, was entitled to an exemption from the contraception requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The decision marks the first time that an entity was granted an exemption to the law based on moral, but not explicitly religious grounds. Following this decision Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance, released this statement:
“For those of us who have tracked religious freedom cases over the years, this ruling is as disappointing as it is unsurprising. It sheds light on the fact that the relentless fight to gut the Affordable Care Act and its reproductive health provisions have never been about religious freedom or protecting the rights of religious communities. Too often the onslaught of alleged religious exemption claims have simply been attempts of individuals to opt-out of legislation that they find disagreeable. To the extent that religious exemptions have a place in our laws, they should be narrowly tailored to meet the needs of explicitly religious entities.
“As a person of faith, I take profound exception to the abuse of deeply held religious convictions for pure political gain. While Judge Leon’s decision will no doubt give fodder to those seeking to undermine the rights of women, workers, LGBT Americans and racial and religious minorities – I hope it will serve as yet another wake-up call about the need to reexamine how we protect religious freedom in America.”
Sep 02 2015
WASHINGTON – Earlier this week the Supreme Court refused to grant a stay in the case of a county clerk in Kentucky seeking the right to refuse to perform same-sex marriages. In the days following this decision the clerk, Kim Davis, has returned to work but has refused to serve perform marriages for any couple. Today, Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance, released this statement:
“The Supreme Court promised to bring marriage equality nationwide with its landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. This week’s refusal to let a Kentucky clerk turn away same-sex couples is another important step toward that goal. There can be no marriage equality if a couple has to worry that a county clerk may refuse to serve them; there can be no religious freedom if a government employee can pursue a sectarian agenda from his or her office. Interfaith Alliance remains committed to protecting the religious freedom, at the altar and at the office, of all Americans. That freedom must not translate into the ability to use religious beliefs to discriminate.
“I hope that Ms. Davis will acknowledge her strong faith does not exempt her from her duties as an elected official. The law is religiously neutral, and her position is not a personal platform to impose her beliefs on others. If she cannot reconcile her religious ideology with her duty as an agent of the state, she should look for a different line of work.”
Aug 28 2015
WASHINGTON -- Yesterday, following a tragic shooting outside of Roanoke, VA, Roanoke Mayor David Bowers called for prayer and a return to church. Following this call, Rabbi Jack Moline, Interfaith Alliance Executive Director and longtime Virginia faith leader, wrote this letter:
Mayor David A. Bowers
215 Church Ave, S.W.
Roanoke, VA 24011
August 28, 2015
Dear Mayor Bowers,
Roanoke was the epicenter of a shock that reverberated throughout the Commonwealth, the nation and the world. Please accept my condolences to the city, as I have already extended to WDBJ7, both as Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance and as a long-time rabbi from Alexandria, Virginia.
In response to a question from CNN reporter Carol Costello, you called for prayer as a response to the murders. I join you in the call for people to seek solace in their faith or philosophy in moments of trauma like these tragic deaths. Indeed, my experience as a member of the clergy is that there are few better places to find the courage to persevere than in the company of like-minded people gathered for worship, reflection or meditation.
However, prayer addresses only part of the problem – which you, as an elected official, certainly know. Public policy plays a principal role in addressing the scourge of gun violence. I hope that you recognize the wisdom expressed by Governor McAuliffe when he called for meaningful reform to regulate access to firearms. As you well know, in Virginia, a licensed gun owner like Vester Lee Flanagan II could bring his weapon into the church where the prayers you recommend are being offered. Imagine if his rage had boiled over on Sunday morning instead of Wednesday.
As such, I hope you will encourage clergy and other moral leaders to speak to the process of reflection and discernment on ways to preserve Constitutional guarantees while protecting life and liberty for all. When prayer leads us through personal solace toward communal action it is most effective, and it is more likely to show us the answers we seek to the real social problems that were highlighted by this tragedy.
Rabbi Jack Moline
Interfaith Alliance Welcomes Donald Trump’s Approach to Religion on the Campaign Trail, Calls for Civility
Aug 27 2015
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Bloomberg’s John Heilemann asked Donald Trump, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, a series of questions about his faith and his relationship to the Bible. Mr. Trump rightfully pushed back on the question saying it was a personal matter. Interfaith Alliance has encouraged candidates to take care when discussing religion on the campaign trail, and has long urged the media to respect candidates’ private views. Today, Interfaith Alliance Executive Director Rabbi Jack Moline released the following statement:
“Mr. Trump demonstrated a remarkable deftness and respect for the spirit of the First Amendment when pressed, recently, with questions about his relationship to the Bible. The Constitution mandates that the government set no religious test for office, if we are to truly protect religious freedom in America the media must uphold that goal as well. We do a disservice to both our politics and our religious communities when we encourage candidates to translate their faith into sound-bytes. I thank Mr. Trump for respecting religion enough to refuse to answer such questions.
“Mr. Trump has rightfully asked that the privacy of his personal religious identity and beliefs be respected, that America give him the benefit of the doubt when he discuss faith. As someone who strives to lead our nation, I urge him to extend that same civility and generosity to his political opponents, members of the media, and the general public. We are not better informed when we insult one another, our political debate is not helped when we question each other’s intentions, our country will not be made great through demonizing members of our community, fueling divisiveness and championing vitriol.”