Interfaith Alliance Statement on the Passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

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Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, issued the following statement today celebrating the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act’s successful passage by both houses of Congress:

With dramatic unanimity the sacred scriptures of diverse religious traditions vehemently condemn hate.  Hate is neither a religious nor an American value.  These are among the reasons why Interfaith Alliance today celebrates the passage of substantive hate crimes prevention legislation.  Not only will this new law provide much-needed help for law enforcement officials and offer long-sought-for protection to vulnerable groups threatened by hate-motivated violence, it will offer a modicum of comfort to all who have lost loved ones because of hate crimes.  Passage of this hate crime legislation represents a civil act consistent with the moral foundations of our nation and all of the religious traditions which are at home within it. 

Fidelity to the prophetic core of our religions and our American values means that we cannot condemn hate, only to follow it with passivity in the face of behavior that destroys the lives of any group of our fellow citizens.  For over a decade, Interfaith Alliance has fought tirelessly to secure the crucial protections provided in this legislation.  We urge President Obama to sign the act into law without delay. 

To be sure, no law alone can remove hatred from our midst.  But in an America increasingly rife with uncivil and narrow-minded bickering, this new law can serve as a ringing pronouncement of our democracy’s common values – namely, that we utterly reject hate violence and embrace an America in which diverse people are safe as well as free.