Looking Ahead: Faith and the 2012 Presidential Election

2012The first primaries of the 2012 campaign cycle are still a while away, but there is already cause for concern for those of us who care about protecting the boundaries between religion and government. President Obama has announced that he is seeking a second term in office. And as of now, he is unlikely to face any serious primary challengers. On the Republican side, candidates are already positioning themselves for the election and, unfortunately, leaning heavily on religious rhetoric to do it.

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Honoring the Four Immortal Chaplains – Then and Now

The four immortal chaplainsNearly 70 years ago, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester began to sink, and four chaplains on board did what they knew how to do – bring calm and comfort to a chaotic situation. In the end, Chaplains Rabbi Alexander David Goode, Father John Washington, Rev. George Lansing Fox and Rev. Clark Poling made the ultimate sacrifice, as they gave up their life jackets to save four others and went down with the ship. Though spiritual leaders of four different religions, together, they stood in prayer as the ship went down into the North Atlantic Sea.

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Fighting Islamophobia in Peter King’s home state

Introduction written by Jay Keller

Our Long Island affiliate is on the front line with respect to Rep. King's attack on Muslim Americans as many of the Long Island members live in Rep King’s district. Our affiliate’s board chair, Rev. Mark told me “We feel a special obligation to be out front in defending religious freedom for our Muslim American sisters and brothers when it is being so outrageously attacked from a powerful congressman.” Below is a report on Long Island Interfaith Alliance’s work on combatting Islamophobia in Peter King’s district.

Rev. Mark Luken

Our November 2010 Thanksgiving service for religious freedom pre-dated the hearings. It was held at the Islamic Center of Long Island and featured Bishop Murphy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, which represents more than 50 percent of Long Island’s population. This wonderful celebration of unity in diversity service also included rabbis, ministers and imams.

In response to the announcement of the upcoming Peter King hearings, we led a letter-writing campaign to our local newspaper, Newsday. Letters from both Sister Jeanne Clarke and I were published, taking Rep. King to task for not including a broader spectrum of speakers and for focusing only on radical Islam. We co-sponsored a pray-in at King's district office on February 22, and despite being confronted by a contingent of King supporters, we managed to gather clergy and laity from the Roman Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim and Unitarian faiths to pray together. The event was well-covered in the local and national press.

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Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Congress Holds Hearings on Muslim Community

King HearingsLast month, Congress held not one, but two hearings regarding the American Muslim community – and unfortunately there are more hearings to come. The first hearing was organized by Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and investigated the so-called “radicalization of the American Muslim community,” misguidedly singling out one religious group for scrutiny. The second hearing, held by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee he chairs, focused on protecting the civil rights of American Muslims. Though the intention behind and the tone of the latter hearing was definitively more positive and less controversial than the first hearing, it is unfortunate that such a hearing was necessary to begin with.

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