Press Releases

Interfaith Alliance Applauds Introduction of Therapuetic Fraud Prevention Act

WASHINGTON – This morning, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced the “Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act,” a bill that would ban so-called “conversion therapy” for LGBT individuals. In response, Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance, released the following statement:

“This bill gives explicit, legislative voice to what many of us who have worked with families and in faith communities across the country have known implicitly for years: LGBT identity is not a disease, and any attempt to ‘cure’ identity is fraudulent and dangerous. I commend Rep. Lieu for taking this step to protect LBGT individuals and their families from the false representations and harmful practices of conversion therapy’s advocates. I urge Rep. Lieu’s fellow members of Congress to take swift action in support of this bill.

“This legislation goes to great lengths to protect the First Amendment and safeguard the rights of religious communities. When a service-provider seeks to make a profit off of its alleged treatments, it must be subject the rules and guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission and medical and counseling standards - no matter how much the provider is cloaked in the guise of religious language. We must also remember that these peddlers of conversion therapy intentionally prey on families of faith. Barring them from selling and advertising their services will make our congregations and religious communities safer places for all.”

Interfaith Alliance Urges Congress to Reject School Vouchers, Respect Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON -- As Congress considered renewing its work of foricng a school voucher program on the Washington, D.C., Interfaith Alliance head, Rabbi Jack Moline, wrote the following letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee urging them to protect religious freedom by stopping public money from flowing to private, parochial schools:

 

The Honorable Jason Chaffetz
Chairman
House Oversight & Government Reform
Committee
2236 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Elijah Cummings
Ranking Member
House Oversight & Government Reform
Committee
2230 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

May 12, 2015

Dear Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings,

On behalf of the members of Interfaith Alliance, individuals across the country belonging to seventy-five different faith traditions as well as no particular faith tradition, I write to register our strong opposition to the DC voucher program and, indeed, all voucher programs that fund private schools. Our organization is committed to the integrity and freedom of American religious communities and to the stalwart defense of the First Amendment – both of which are undermined when public tax dollars fund private, parochial schools.

Certainly, if America’s religious communities are to remain vibrant and strong, then every community must retain the right to educate young people in the doctrine and practices of its traditions. These beliefs need not agree with secular understandings of science and history to be worthy of protection; religious education need not have the goal of preparing our children for the 21st century workforce to be valued. However, these are the primary goals of public education, and when religious schools receive government money they are necessarily subject to scrutiny and evaluation. This puts the government in a position of determining which religious doctrines – which types of religious education – live up to educational standards and merit public support. Such external judgment and evaluation of religious communities and beliefs is untenable if we are to maintain religious freedom in America – yet it is unavoidable if we continue to send our public money to private schools.

The civil rights and religious freedom of students at private, parochial schools are also of deep concern to all those who champion the First Amendment. Too often private schools receiving public money are not held to the same civil rights standards as public schools, including those standards set in Title VI, Title IX, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). When religious schools use their exemptions to compromise the rights and freedoms of their students, they justify gender discrimination, dictate the religious practices of students, and jeopardize the rights of students with disabilities. Moreover, they do so with public money and thus the tacit cooperation of the government.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby and the debates over religious freedom legislation in Indiana and Arkansas, many in our nation have been reexamining the relationship between our Constitution’s promise of religious freedom and the protection of civil rights. But surely there must be clear line: when an entity receives federal funding – in the form of a school voucher, or otherwise – it must fully comply with federal civil rights standards, regardless of its religious affiliation.

It is for these reasons that I urge you not to renew the DC Voucher program. As we move forward as a nation in the work of safeguarding the religious freedom and civil rights of all, such public funding of private, religious schools, stands out as a particularly egregious threat to religious freedom.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Jack Moline,
Executive Director
Interfaith Alliance

Interfaith Alliance Welcomes President's Inclusive National Day of Prayer Proclamation

WASHINGTON—In response to President Obama’s National Day of Prayer Proclamation – which strove to include and represent Americans of all faiths – Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance, released the following statement: those

“In 1952, Congress mandated that the President designate the first Thursday in May the National Day of Prayer. Too often public prayer, and this observance in particular, is used as a wedge to divide and demean Americans of different faiths and of no particular faith. I, along with faith leaders across the country, am grateful that President Obama repudiated such tactics in his proclamation today. The President’s inclusive proclamation today was first and foremost an articulation of America’s promise of religious freedom – a nation where all are free to worship as they please, and where no one’s religious beliefs dictate the rights and freedoms of others. Prayer can and does play a role for many in that vision of religious freedom and pluralism, the President’s proclamation honored and celebrated it.

“Yet the National Day of Prayer remains an observance that flouts the spirit of religious freedom in America, if not very the letter of the law. We should ask our leaders to join us in the common cause of solving our nation’s most urgent needs with, in the President’s words, “solemn reflection.” However, Government-sponsored prayer, no matter how well-intentioned, violates the Constitution. Our leaders should demonstrate respect for people of all religious traditions and of no religious tradition, and there should be no expectation of a public display of any particular form of piety.”

Interfaith Alliance Condemns Shooting at Anti-Muslim Event in Texas

Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance executive director, Rabbi Jack Moline, condemned both a shooting that took place in Garland Texas yesterday and the event that seems to have provoked it.

“The events that transpired in Garland, Texas represent a tragic breakdown of our democratic values. The attempted shooting has no justification – not even the reprehensible event that seems to be its intended target. Violence as a response to insult is indefensible. The motives of the two gunmen killed at an anti-Islam event yesterday are still under investigation. However, regardless of their intent, we reject their use violence.

“The so-called 'Muslim Art Exhibit’ where the shooting took place is an event deserving of criticism even absent yesterday’s violence. Pamela Geller, the exhibit’s sponsor, seeks to hide provocation behind the First Amendment. This competition, which rewarded disrespect with cash, may be legal, but it is certainly not worthy of the great tradition of free-speech advocacy in America. Unfortunately, this was not her organization’s first attempt to incite radical elements in society, and this time, sadly, it would appear some took the bait.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the security guard who was injured last night and with the community that was threatened. We pray as well for peace and compassion in the wake of this tragedy – just as violence is the wrong response to hate, more hate is the wrong response to violence.”