Press Releases

Rabbi Jack Moline Urges No Religious Test For Syrian Refugees

WASHINGTON – The following remarks were given by Rabbi Jack Moline at a press conference today organized by Church World Service at the National Press Club where interfaith leaders called on U.S. politicians to continue to welcome Syrian refugees. This press conference came after numerous Governors announced that their states would not accept Syrian refugees, and several pieces of legislation were introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate to stop the refugee resettlement program or to limit it to Christian refugees.

“My friends, when the Constitution says there shall be no religious test for office, it means no religious test. And when the President says there will be no religious test for our compassion, it means no religious test. When I suggest to you there should be no religious test for the humanity of a refugee from oppression, it means no religious test. When I tell you the Declaration of Independence insists that there is no religious test for unalienable human rights, it means no religious test. When I affirm that every faith community I know has no religious test for being a child of God, it means no religious test. When I say that there is no religious test for the devotion of parents to the safety and security of their children, it means no religious test.

“Listen to me, my fellow Americans and my fellow lovers of America. My people found refuge in this country when they were tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Your people came to these shores last year, last decade, last century – hell, if they came 250 years ago it’s still current events by historical standards. They weren’t all wealthy, they weren’t all smart, they weren’t all skilled and I am willing to bet they weren’t all nice. But they came here knowing that to hold office, find compassion, to flee oppression, to enjoy their rights, to affirm their humanity, to protect their children, to ensure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity, there was no religious test.

“The founding president of this great country was the one who said “happily the Government of the United States…gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,” and anyone who wants that job needs to live up to that mandate.

“So let me ask just one time, if the legacy of this country is to give to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, what does that mean when our fellow human beings who are running for their lives ask us to be true to that legacy?

“Say it with me: no religious test.”

Faith and Civil Rights Groups Deeply Troubled by Anti-Muslim Response to Paris Attacks

Interfaith Alliance and Muslims Advocates Call on Public Officials to Focus on Unity in Aftermath of Tragedy

We are deeply troubled by the anti-Muslim response by public officials to the Paris attacks. It is disturbing that public officials—including U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY)—would exploit the Paris tragedy to advance their own political agendas. At a time when we join the world to support the people of Paris, we are concerned that public officials like Rubio and King seek to divide instead of unite us.

In a Sunday interview with George Stephanopolous on ABC This Week, Senator Rubio compared Muslims to Nazis. Speaking on New York radio with John Catsimatidis also on Sunday, Representative King called for increased surveillance of American Muslim communities

All Americans want to be kept safe from acts of violence, whatever the source. But promoting the idea of a “clash of civilizations” and suggesting extremist violence is rooted within Islam only serves to further the agenda of violent extremists. It also sends a dangerous signal that our American Muslim neighbors are a threat, worsening the environment of anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crimes.

We call on our public officials to refrain from religious bigotry and focus instead on unity in the aftermath of the Paris tragedy. There are real consequences to creating an anti-Muslim climate. In Florida over the weekend, a Tampa Bay area mosque received a threatening voicemail that warned of a militia coming to fire bomb the mosque and shoot worshippers. Local and federal law enforcement are investigating the threat.

Now is a moment for all communities to come together in the spirit of our American ideals of freedom and justice, and not allow the Paris tragedy to divide us along faith lines.

Interfaith Alliance Responds to Terrorist Attack in Paris

WASHINGTON - Following the tragic terrorist attack in Paris, Rabbi Jack Moline, execuitve director of Interfaith Alliance, released this statement:

"I am heartbroken to fulfill this sad duty once again -- to share our sympathies and prayers with the families, friends and fellow citizens of the victims of the unconscionable terrorist attacks in Paris. There is no religious justification for these crimes and Interfaith Alliance joins with those from all communities who repudiate the culture of political violence masquerading as piety.

"We applaud the work of security services in France and around the world who seek to protect innocent life while preserving individual freedom.  It is a task fraught with hazards, and it is too often thankless.  Free societies face the challenge of balancing civil rights with civil order. We at Interfaith Alliance continue to support those efforts in the United States.

"The objective of any terrorist is to strike fear into the hearts of innocent citizens and provoke them into betraying their peaceful inclinations.  Already we are seeing some public figures exploiting the understandable distress of Americans by calling for discriminatory policies against those fleeing terrorist oppression, exacerbating violence by promoting vigilantism in the guise of "self defense" and repeating slanderous generalizations about faith communities and nationalities.  

"We must hold fast to our American values and not give into the specious reasoning born of fear.  Only those who do not believe in the inherent strength of our unalienable rights will choose to rely on a version of the terrorism they seek to defeat. No defense strategy is foolproof, but extreme reactionism is unquestionably for fools.

"Religious faith and moral philosophies have the capacity to heal a broken world.  May all those of good will join in support of the citizens of France and peace-loving people in every corner of our world."

Interfaith Alliance Head, Longtime Virginia Faith Leader, Calls For Expanded Approach to Terrorism After Targeting of Black Churches, Synagogues By Virginia White Supremacists

WASHINGTON – Earlier this week, three alleged white supremacists were arrested by the FBI after plotting to attack synagogues and black churches in Virginia. Interfaith Alliance has frequently called on the FBI and the Department of Justice to ensure that the focus of their Countering Violent Extremism program addresses the full threat of the violent extremism in the U.S., a threat illustrated by this recent arrest. Following the announcement of this arrest, Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance and longtime religious leader in Virginia, released this statement:

“I stand with today with the religious communities of Virginia, shaken by the discovery of this horrendous plot. I cannot help but think that the Alexandria synagogue I served for nearly thirty years, or the Richmond synagogue my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter attend, could have been targeted by these forces of hate and violence. And I stand today with my interfaith allies in black churches, knowing that our bonds are made stronger in the face of this terrorist threat.

“Too often we are told that violent extremism in America has only one face and only one name. We see the White House convene summits on the issue that discuss only radicalization in the Muslim community, the FBI designs initiatives that target only the Muslim community – and we loose sight of the broader picture of terrorism in America. There is a strain of racist, antisemitic and anti-Muslim, extremism in this country that is better armed and better organized than any of us like to admit. We will not be truly safe unless we face this terrorist threat head on. I am heartened by the fact that this plot was discovered by the FBI, and I pray that it is representative of a broader commitment to address the radicalization and militarization of white supremacists.

“We must reaffirm our commitment today to religious tolerance and religious freedom. We must teach tolerance in our homes, houses of worship and communities, so that fewer and fewer Americans will be drawn toward this type of violence. And we must advocate for religious freedom to our law enforcement and political leaders. There is no freedom to worship if we cannot gather without fear. There is no freedom from discrimination if law enforcement unjustly targets one faith community. Interfaith Alliance has always believed that we can find unity and strength through our religious differences – sometimes that unity is forced upon us by the plans of terrorists, sometimes we must that build that unity through understanding and advocacy.”