Washington, DC — When the fundamental freedom, rights, and institutions of our democracy are used in attempts to achieve narrow partisan and/or sectarian purposes, our democracy is threatened. When efforts are made to spread hatred that destroys the possibility of pluralism, to restrict rights in a manner that erodes freedom, and to stoke fears that alter the civil electoral debates that nurture the democratic process, something is bad wrong. And when all of this is done under the guise of religion, the soaring vision of our nation conceived by our founders and elaborated in our constitution must be protected.
Though people have a right to advocate for bigotry and media outlets have a right to sell their delivery services for money, all of us have a responsibility to raise political, moral, and spiritual questions about the mass distribution of ideological materials aimed at pitting Americans against each other, designating a black list of religions in this nation, and inspiring sick minds to spray gas on women and children gathered for worship in a mosque.
The Interfaith Alliance exists to encourage inter-religious cooperation and help demonstrate the positive contributions that religion can make to the nation. Thus we challenge religion-based divisiveness as well as the manipulation of both religion and politics in a manner that weakens the integrity of religion and the vitality of politics. For that reason, we call on Americans to speak out against the propagation of materials aimed at demonizing Muslims or any other religious group for the purpose of advancing a candidate for political office, to challenge the very idea that a person’s religion makes that person less a citizen than others who identify with a majority religion or no religion at all, and to refute the political strategy of stereotyping a religion through lying about its essential nature in order to prey on people’s fears, make one candidate more attractive than another, divide the American public, and advance a singular political point of view.
The assurance of religious liberty and the guarantee of a vital democracy are inextricably linked together in our government. To those whose work erodes both while stirring hatred, let us say, “Enough. Be done!” in order that we may get on with an important election in which all candidates are encouraged to respect religious pluralism and to commit themselves to the protection of a vital democracy.
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 brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.