Press Releases

Interfaith Alliance Condemns Killing of Imam and Assistant in New York City

Washington, DC – On Saturday, Imam Maulama Akonjee and his assistant Thara Uddin were walking home from prayers at their Queens mosque when they were fatally shot from behind at point-blank range. Interfaith Alliance president Rabbi Jack Moline responded to the attack with the following statement:

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family members of both slain men, to the members of the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque and to the broader Muslim community in New York City. The execution of a clergy member and his assistant, walking home in religious garb from a house of worship, is an unthinkable crime.

“The motivation of the shooter is not yet known, but Akonjee and Uddin clearly appear to have been targeted for their leadership role in the Muslim community in Ozone Park, Queens. That makes the shooting an attack on the entire community.

“We stand united with New York’s Muslim community against bigotry and violence. Religious freedom demands that Americans of all faiths, or no faith, be able to freely and safely practice their beliefs.”

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.’”