Press Releases

Interfaith Alliance Responds to the Killings of Three Muslim College Students in North Carolina

WASHINGTON – Interfaith Alliance executive director, Rabbi Jack Moline, issued the following statement in response to the tragic murder of three Muslim college students in North Carolina this week.

"I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of three young lives at the hands of a gunman in Chapel Hill, North Carolina this week. The loss of life to gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and I fear we are in some ways becoming desensitized to it. The motivation of the gunman in this case remains unclear. What we know about him suggests someone with a disturbing attitude towards people of faith – including Muslims. I urge law enforcement officials charged with investigating this case to pursue every avenue in their search for the truth, and if the evidence points to a hate crime, he should be charged as such."

Eighteen Religious and Civil Rights Groups Call On White House to Confront Extremist Violence of All Types, and Avoid Singling Out a Specific Faith

WASHINGTON – Interfaith Alliance today released an open letter to President Barack Obama, signed by 18 organizations, to express concern about the announcement of the upcoming White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. All of the organizations that joined together to write the letter condemn extremist violence, yet share a concern that the White House is focusing exclusively on Islamic extremists, which risks contributing to the marginalization of American Muslims.

The letter writers note that: “the Press Secretary’s statement mentions only acts of violence perpetrated by individuals who self-identify as Muslims, and it holds up as examples of prevention only CVE pilot programs directed at American Muslims. As you know, studies by the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center have shown that the overwhelming majority of terrorist incidents in the United States were committed by non-Muslims.”

The letter concludes with a call to action for the White House: “Extremist Violence is a concern we all face. We ask you to assure us that the focus of the upcoming Summit on Countering Violent Extremism will be comprehensive, and to express that assurance in a very public way.”

Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance, said, “Unfortunately, no single religion has a monopoly on extremist violence. Diversity and religious pluralism are sources of pride for our country. The White House must make sure not to unfairly single out American Muslims as it seeks to confront violent extremism perpetrated in the name of any faith or ideology.” 
 
February 12, 2015
 
Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20500
 
Dear Mr. President,


The members of our organizations are saddened by every act of violence inspired by extremism. We unequivocally condemn those who resort to violence in pursuit of an extremist agenda.  At the same time, we must express our concern about the announcement of the upcoming White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism; the language points to only one type of these offenses, and in doing so seems to single out American Muslim communities.  In the end, that focus alone will shed light on only a portion of extremist violence in our nation and around the world, and will not be as effective in the important work of keeping our nation secure.

The Press Secretary’s statement mentions only acts of violence perpetrated by individuals who self-identify as Muslims, and it holds up as examples of prevention only CVE pilot programs directed at American Muslims.  As you know, studies by the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center have shown that the overwhelming majority of terrorist incidents in the United States were committed by non-Muslims, most with right-wing or eco-terrorist agendas.  In the past years, some of the most startling attacks have targeted a Sikh gurdwara, and a Jewish community – neither of these were perpetrated by Muslims. The bombing last month outside an NAACP office in Colorado Springs, while still under investigation, may well turn out to be another act of terrorism.

We understand the need to speak to the concerns and fears of Americans by referencing crimes against communities that are fresh in people’s minds.  In the process of reassuring the public, the White House must be especially careful not to contribute to the marginalization of American Muslims.  By reinforcing the suspicion some individuals have of an entire faith community, the Administration might inadvertently undermine the principles of religious freedom and pluralism that are central to our national values and history.

Extremist violence is a concern we all face. We ask you to assure us that the focus of the upcoming Summit on Countering Violent Extremism will be comprehensive, and to express that assurance in a very public way.
 
Sincerely,


Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
American Humanist Association
Asian American Legal Defense Fund
Auburn Theological Seminary
Bend The Arc: a Jewish Partnership for Justice
Brennan Center for Justice
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Church of the Brethren
Interfaith Alliance
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights
National Council of Jewish Women
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Sikh Coalition
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call to Justice
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

Interfaith Alliance Executive Director Invites LDS Church to discuss LGBT Rights, Religous Freedom

John Taylor

Director of Interfaith Relations
Office of Public Affairs

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints

15 E South Temple

Salt Lake City, Utah 8415

January 29, 2015

Dear Mr. Taylor,

On behalf of the members of Interfaith Alliance, I write to express our appreciation of the Church of Latter-Days-Saints’ change in policy regarding certain civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  We are glad you have joined the cause to which we committed many years ago, affirming that civil equality for LGBT individuals and religious freedom for all Americans exist in harmony with each other. We look forward to working with the LDS Church to advance both ideals.

Of course, there are inevitable differences about how Interfaith Alliance and the Church set the contours of those two ideals.  I invite you into conversation on the subject any time; I hope we can contribute to your understanding of the impact of religious teachings on people inside and outside any faith community, and I know I have much to learn from the principled values of the Mormons and how you came to this momentous decision.

The history of many faith communities in the United States – yours and mine included – is replete with examples of the damage of religiously motivated discrimination.  The participation of Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Catholics, atheists or any other subscriber to a belief system in American public life should not be dependent on the doctrines of those around them. Likewise, the civil rights of the LGBT community should be subject only to American law, not to religious belief. Surely, we can protect the rights of houses of worship, clergy and religious institutions without giving a legal imprimatur to religious doctrine or discrimination.

As a long-time activist for civil rights and religious freedom, I know that lasting change is incremental. The announcement you made this week represents another step in the remarkable process of equal protection under the law that is both hallmark and aspiration in the United States.  None of us can predict when we will be satisfied that religious freedom and civil rights have reached the proper expression and perfect balance, but we all know it is not yet.  I welcome you into fellowship with the members of more than seventy-five faith communities who make up Interfaith Alliance as we work to protect faith and freedom.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Jack Moline,
Executive Director

Interfaith Alliance Submits Questions for Loretta Lynch Confirmtaion Hearing

WASHINGTON – In advance of the hearing to consider Loretta Lynch’s nomination as the next Attorney General of the United States, Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance, sent the following letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee urging them to ask Mrs. Lynch key questions about religious freedom:

Dear Senator,

As Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance I represent an organization committed to defending religious freedom. Our members identify among more than seventy-five faith traditions. I write to you today to urge you to include a full examination of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch’s record and beliefs regarding religious freedom during her nomination hearing to become the next Attorney General of the United States.

The U.S. Department of Justice is tasked with ensuring that our nation’s laws and practices live up to the ideals set forth in the Constitution. It is imperative that its leader is someone with a deep knowledge and respect for the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom. While there are many religious freedom concerns our next Attorney General must consider, I raise two and encourage you to ask Ms. Lynch these questions at her confirmation hearing.

Discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity runs contrary to our nation’s values and laws. Government funding of such discrimination violates the core promise of the Constitution’s guarantee to equal treatment before the law.  In order to live up to that goal both Democratic- and Republican-majority sessions of Congress and administrations from both parties have passed laws and issued executive orders requiring government contractors to abide by non-discrimination provisions.

Unfortunately both the Bush and Obama Administration have allowed religious organizations contracting with the federal government an exemption from non-discrimination provisions. Federal dollars should not fund discrimination, nor should they further religious doctrine. We urge you to ask Ms. Lynch: “Do you agree that federal contractors and grantees should not use taxpayer money to subsidize discrimination?”

Another area of concern is the relationship between law enforcement agencies and religious communities. The Justice Department recently took action toward eliminating religious profiling by federal law enforcement. However, it left in place overbroad exemptions for cases involving national security, airports and the U.S. border. Additionally it did not take the necessary steps to curtail profiling by local law enforcement agencies. Religious expression is not truly free if that expression makes you the target of government profiling or surveillance. We urge you to ask Ms. Lynch: “What steps would you take as Attorney General to ensure that law enforcement respects religious freedom?”

If there is anything that we at The Interfaith Alliance can do to assist you as you consider this important nomination, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Jack Moline,
Interim Executive Director
Interfaith Alliance