Interfaith Alliance to Gohmert: Stop Demonizing Islam
February 22, 2013
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ari Geller, West End Strategy Team, 202-776-7700, Ari@westendstrategy.com
The Honorable Louie Gohmert
2243 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Representative Gohmert:
I write to you with great concern over your recent comments on the radio program The Voice of Freedom regarding measures to prevent gun violence. Your implication that the Second Amendment must be strongly upheld so that Americans can arm themselves against sharia, Muslim religious law, is troubling. It is all the more troubling when I recall that just last summer the organization which I serve as president, Interfaith Alliance, alongside 41 religious and civil rights groups wrote to you in protest of your demonization of prominent American Muslim government officials and community organizations. I am disappointed to see that neither your rhetoric nor your misinformed view of Islam has changed.
I hope that you will review a resource Interfaith Alliance produced in collaboration with the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center entitled What is the Truth About American Muslims: Questions and Answers. I have attached a copy to this letter and in particular would call your attention to questions 19-27 which focus on the nature of sharia. These questions include, "How do American Muslims follow sharia?" and "Do American Muslims want to replace the U.S. Constitution with sharia?" This resource has also been endorsed by nearly two dozen religious, civic and civil rights groups, all united to combat ignorance and bigotry against American Muslims and protect religious freedom.
I feel compelled to again remind you that the continued demonization of Islam and disenfranchisement of the American Muslim community is not only uncalled for, it is a dangerous affront to the religious freedom upon which this nation was founded and it must end. American Muslims, the overwhelming majority of whom live peaceful, law-abiding lives — just like Americans from other religious groups — should not have to live in a country where their elected officials imply that they need to be kept at bay with firearms.
Furthermore, at a time when gun violence has wracked our nation with one unimaginable tragedy after another, I would hope that elected officials such as you would stay focused on real measures to prevent future needless deaths. I would hope that you would focus your attention on measures to truly balance the Second Amendment rights you so strongly defend, rather than derailing what should be a substantive policy discussion with misguided bigotry. No matter our disagreements, we as a nation need to be done forever with the thought that guns are a solution to our problems.
In my experience, the only people in the U.S. government who are concerned that there are those who think "sharia law ought to be the law of the land" are those who, like you, are misguidedly attempting to infringe upon the religious freedom of American Muslims to practice their faith. I hope that you will give a close look to the attached questions and answers guide and cease your demonization of a group of Americans who have the same right as you to be here and practice their faith.
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
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Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance has 185,000 members across the country from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.