May 21 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C.– Interfaith Alliance Executive Director Rabbi Jack Moline released the following statement following remarks by Boy Scouts President Robert Gates recommending an end to the ban on gay leaders in the Scouts.
“I applaud Secretary Gates’ call today to end the ban on gay leaders in the Boy Scouts of America. The work Secretary Gates has done to make the Boy Scouts more inclusive builds on his considerable efforts to open the U.S. military to gays and lesbians as Secretary of Defense and is a testament to his character and commitment to equality. I welcome, as well, Secretary Gates’ desire to respect religious communities as he seeks this policy change.
“As a private, voluntary organization, the Boy Scouts of America is entitled to craft its own membership policies. However, I would urge Secretary Gates to use his considerable moral leadership to strive for full inclusion in troops across America. For many, the Boy Scouts are synonymous with service to community and respect for all – to create system where some scouts are allowed to grow up into leaders at any troop, while others are barred from those troops that refuse to accept them for who they are or whom they love is not worthy of this organization’s great name.”
May 20 2015
MONROE, LA – Yesterday Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued an Executive Order to unilaterally enact many provisions of the so-called Marriage and Conscience Protection Act, which died in committee earlier in the day. In response to this action, Rev. Welton Gaddy, the president emeritus of Interfaith Alliance and the senior pastor at Northminster Baptist Church in Monroe, LA released the following statement:
“Governor Jindal has proven once again that he values his national political ambitions more than his duty to protect the religious freedom and civil rights of all Louisianans. This Executive Order reflects a dangerous and misguided understanding of religious freedom – it seeks to pit the freedom of some against the rights of others, it allows government employees to pursue a sectarian agenda from their taxpayer funded offices, and it establishes one particular religious view on marriage and human sexuality as state law. It is, in short, exactly the type of policy the Founders sought to prevent when they drafted the First Amendment.
“Given how little this Executive Order does for Louisianans, I can only assume its true intent is to become a rallying call for the religious sectarians as Gov. Jindal prepares his campaign for president. I hope my fellow Louisianan’s will join me in insisting that while he’s still our Governor he must stop jeopardizing our rights for the sake of shoring up his political support.”
May 19 2015
WASHINGTON – This morning, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced the “Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act,” a bill that would ban so-called “conversion therapy” for LGBT individuals. In response, Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance, released the following statement:
“This bill gives explicit, legislative voice to what many of us who have worked with families and in faith communities across the country have known implicitly for years: LGBT identity is not a disease, and any attempt to ‘cure’ identity is fraudulent and dangerous. I commend Rep. Lieu for taking this step to protect LBGT individuals and their families from the false representations and harmful practices of conversion therapy’s advocates. I urge Rep. Lieu’s fellow members of Congress to take swift action in support of this bill.
“This legislation goes to great lengths to protect the First Amendment and safeguard the rights of religious communities. When a service-provider seeks to make a profit off of its alleged treatments, it must be subject the rules and guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission and medical and counseling standards - no matter how much the provider is cloaked in the guise of religious language. We must also remember that these peddlers of conversion therapy intentionally prey on families of faith. Barring them from selling and advertising their services will make our congregations and religious communities safer places for all.”
May 14 2015
WASHINGTON -- As Congress considered renewing its work of foricng a school voucher program on the Washington, D.C., Interfaith Alliance head, Rabbi Jack Moline, wrote the following letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee urging them to protect religious freedom by stopping public money from flowing to private, parochial schools:
The Honorable Jason Chaffetz
House Oversight & Government Reform
2236 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Elijah Cummings
House Oversight & Government Reform
2230 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
May 12, 2015
Dear Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings,
On behalf of the members of Interfaith Alliance, individuals across the country belonging to seventy-five different faith traditions as well as no particular faith tradition, I write to register our strong opposition to the DC voucher program and, indeed, all voucher programs that fund private schools. Our organization is committed to the integrity and freedom of American religious communities and to the stalwart defense of the First Amendment – both of which are undermined when public tax dollars fund private, parochial schools.
Certainly, if America’s religious communities are to remain vibrant and strong, then every community must retain the right to educate young people in the doctrine and practices of its traditions. These beliefs need not agree with secular understandings of science and history to be worthy of protection; religious education need not have the goal of preparing our children for the 21st century workforce to be valued. However, these are the primary goals of public education, and when religious schools receive government money they are necessarily subject to scrutiny and evaluation. This puts the government in a position of determining which religious doctrines – which types of religious education – live up to educational standards and merit public support. Such external judgment and evaluation of religious communities and beliefs is untenable if we are to maintain religious freedom in America – yet it is unavoidable if we continue to send our public money to private schools.
The civil rights and religious freedom of students at private, parochial schools are also of deep concern to all those who champion the First Amendment. Too often private schools receiving public money are not held to the same civil rights standards as public schools, including those standards set in Title VI, Title IX, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). When religious schools use their exemptions to compromise the rights and freedoms of their students, they justify gender discrimination, dictate the religious practices of students, and jeopardize the rights of students with disabilities. Moreover, they do so with public money and thus the tacit cooperation of the government.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby and the debates over religious freedom legislation in Indiana and Arkansas, many in our nation have been reexamining the relationship between our Constitution’s promise of religious freedom and the protection of civil rights. But surely there must be clear line: when an entity receives federal funding – in the form of a school voucher, or otherwise – it must fully comply with federal civil rights standards, regardless of its religious affiliation.
It is for these reasons that I urge you not to renew the DC Voucher program. As we move forward as a nation in the work of safeguarding the religious freedom and civil rights of all, such public funding of private, religious schools, stands out as a particularly egregious threat to religious freedom.
Rabbi Jack Moline,