Press Releases

Interfaith Alliance Deeply Concerned about DNC Email Attacking Bernie Sanders Based on his Faith

Washington, D.C. – Interfaith Alliance president Rabbi Jack Moline issued the following statement in response to an email sent by a Democratic National Committee staff member calling into question the faith of Senator Bernie Sanders and suggesting it be used as a line of attack. Interfaith Alliance is a non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting religious freedom and the boundaries between religion and government. As part of its work, the organization seeks to stop candidates for public office from using religion as a political weapon.

“Reports that a senior staff member for the Democratic National Committee suggested using Bernie Sanders’ faith as a line of attack are deeply troubling. Senator Sanders has spoken frequently about his Jewish faith, and it is not for anyone – and certainly not the DNC – to question the authenticity of his religious belief. The email also wrongly suggests that being an atheist is somehow a disqualifier for public office. A candidate’s faith, or lack of faith, should not be either a qualification or a disqualification for public office – not only because it’s the right thing, but because that is what Article VI of the Constitution requires of us. What should matter is the candidate’s ability to protect the religious freedom of all Americans regardless of their faith or belief. It is fitting that those accountable for these emails take responsibility.”

Interfaith Alliance Responds to Donald Trump's Call to Repeal the Johnson Amendment

Washington, D.C. – Interfaith Alliance president Rabbi Jack Moline released the following statement in response to Donald Trump's call for the repeal of the Johnson amendment in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. Interfaith Alliance is a nonpartisan organization committed to protecting the boundaries between religion and government. 

"Clergy in this country have a powerful role to play in advocating for public policy positions. Nothing in the Johnson amendment prevents that. What the amendment does do is prevent our tax-exempt houses of worship from being used for strictly partisan purposes – this in no different than any other tax exempt group. 

"Allowing houses of worship into political campaigns will damage religious freedom by inviting the rewards and punishments of patronage into the pulpit. Do worshipers believe that tearing down the wall between religion and government will allow endorsements to flow only one way? Nonsense. Keeping partisan politics out of religion is every bit as important as keeping religion out of politics. I urge Mr. Trump to reconsider this position. The campaign to revoke the Johnson rule should put every person of faith on notice and reaffirm their commitment to stopping political endorsements from the pulpit."


Interfaith Alliance Raises Concerns about Partisan Benediction at the Republican National Convention

Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President Rabbi Jack Moline issued the following statement in response to the highly partisan benediction offered by Pastor Mark Burns today at the opening of the Republican National Convention. Interfaith Alliance is a non-partisan organization that seeks to keep politicians from misusing religion for political purposes.

“I have rarely heard a more inappropriate contribution to political proceedings as the benediction by Pastor Mark Burns at the opening session of the Republican National Convention. The idea that a member of the clergy would invoke his God’s name and, in the next breath, declare the candidate from the other party to be the enemy seems to be an attempt to replace ‘nomination’ with ‘ordination.’ However, invoking religion to launch such attacks devalues faith and disrespects the people of the United States who are hoping for a debate on the issues, not an ‘ex cathedra’ pronouncement. Republican delegates should decline to respond ‘amen.’”

Religious Freedom Center and Interfaith Alliance condemn Newt Gingrich’s proposal to deport American Muslims who practice Sharia law as unconstitutional, misinformed and dangerous

WASHINGTON -- Newt Gingrich’s proposal to deport American Muslims who practice Sharia law is both unconstitutional and dangerous, according to the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, and Interfaith Alliance. The two organizations jointly produced the resource “What is the Truth about American Muslims?” which explains Sharia in broad terms and dispels myths around it.

“This sweeping and inaccurate attack on American Muslims is an assault on religious freedom,” said Dr. Charles C. Haynes, founding director of the Religious Freedom Center. “Demonizing Islam fuels hostility and hate — and only serves the cause of extremists who commit violence in the name of religion.”

In the hours after the attacks in Nice, France, a Muslim Community Center in Rhode Island was vandalized. Once again, many American Muslims are fearful that they will be the targets of a backlash in the coming days.

“Unfortunately, there are some who are all too eager to use this moment to demonize the Muslim community,” said Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance. “Newt Gingrich’s comments are an affront to everything we stand for as Americans. I question whether anyone who makes such a proposal has even a basic understanding of the First Amendment.”

As explained in “What is the Truth about American Muslims?” Sharia stands for Islamic or sacred law. Sharia is overwhelmingly concerned with personal religious observances such as prayer and fasting. Just as many observant Jews follow Halakha, many observant Muslims follow some aspect of Sharia. The full document, which was endorsed by more than 20 organizations committed to protecting religious freedom, may be downloaded at: http://bit.ly/sharia-rfc).

For centuries, Muslim scholars have given a broad definition of Sharia, reflecting the diversity of interpretations on how Muslims have attempted to best understand and practice their faith. The general definition of Sharia as understood by most American Muslims is as follows:

  • Sharia represents how practicing Muslims can best lead their daily lives in accordance with God’s divine guidance
  • It may be generally defined as the Islamic law revealed by God to the Prophet Muhammad
  • That divine law was then interpreted by Muslim scholars over the centuries
  • Among the primary aims of the Sharia are the achievement of justice, fairness and mercy

“What is the Truth about American Muslims?” explains the sources of Sharia law and the diverse and dynamic interpretations and applications of Sharia law. The vast majority of American Muslims see no conflict between their religious obligations and values and the U.S. legal system.

“To single out religious practices and beliefs of any religion for government regulation is not only unlawful, it is un-American. The U.S. Constitution guarantees religious freedom for people of all religions and none,” said Haynes.

“These are dangerous times that call for real leadership and a sophisticated understanding of the complex world we live in. By making these statements, Newt Gingrich has proven himself to be incapable of either,” added Moline.

A full list of organizations that endorsed “What is the Truth about American Muslims?” includes:

  • African American Ministers Leadership Council
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
  • Friends Committee on National Legislation
  • Institute for Social Policy and Understanding
  • Islamic Networks Group
  • Islamic Society of North America
  • Muslim Public Affairs Council
  • National Religious Campaign Against Torture
  • New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
  • People For the American Way Foundation
  • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • Queens Federation of Churches
  • Rabbis for Human Rights-North America
  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
  • Secular Coalition for America
  • Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Sikh Coalition
  • Sojourners
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
  • United Church of Christ United Methodist Church
  • General Board of Church and Society

About the Religious Freedom Center

The Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute is a nonpartisan national initiative focused on educating the American public about the religious liberty principles of the First Amendment. We envision a world committed to religious freedom as an inalienable right for all people. In carrying out this vision, our mission is to educate the public about the history, meaning and significance of religious freedom and to promote dialogue and understanding among people of all religions and none.