Press Releases

Interfaith Alliance Saddened by Vote on Houston Equal Rights Ordinance

WASHINGTON – Following today’s vote on the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, legislation that would protect all Houstonians from discrimination on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and several other characteristics, Rabbi Jack Moline released the following statement:

“Today’s vote against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is a loss but it is not defeat. The Constitution was not on the ballot in Houston today, and people’s fundamental rights are never up for a vote. We at Interfaith Alliance maintain that discrimination on the basis sexual orientation and gender identity, and the use of religious ideology to limit a person’s rights, is a clear violation of the Constitution and its promise of religious freedom.

“The Religious Right has distorted the truth behind this law, and non-discrimination laws across the country, for too long. We need not choose between real religious freedom and equality for all Americans. Indeed, it is just the opposite: all of our rights are strengthened when we ban discrimination against a particular class of people, all our rights threatened when we wield the Constitution as a weapon for hatred and bigotry.

“Today’s loss in Houston proves once again the need for swift federal action to protect the rights of all Americans. One’s freedom to work and freedom to worship should never be dependent on where one lives.”

Interfaith Alliance Urges Democratic Candidates to Respect Religion, Outline Vision for Religious Freedom in First Debate

WASHINGTON – Today, ahead of the first Democratic debate, Interfaith Alliance Executive Director Rabbi Jack Moline sent the following letter to each of the Democratic candidates for President. In this letter Rabbi Moline urges each candidate to not only respect religion and the spirit of religious freedom in their campaign, but to lay out a vision for how they will protect the religious freedom of all when in the White House. A similar letter was sent to each of the Republican candidates ahead of the most recent Republican debate.

October 12, 2015

Dear Secretary Clinton,

Questions of religion and religious freedom have gained a prominent place in our political campaigns and in conversations across the country. Too many Americans feel today that their religious identities are under attack, too many Americans see politicians using religion to further and further divide us. On behalf of Interfaith Alliance, whose membership is comprised of individuals from across the faith spectrum who are dedicated to religious freedom, I urge you to take caution when discussing religion.

While the Constitution mandates a separation between religion and government, it makes no such strictures on mixing faith and politics. However, Americans know what happens when our politics are overcome by religion and when our religion becomes mired in politics. We know that too often politicians use religion for their own gain, cheapening our sacred beliefs in the process. And we know that religious leaders too often manipulate politicians into taking blatantly unconstitutional political positions. How a candidate treats religion on the campaign trail not only has an impact on the lives of American voters, but also previews the policies they might pursue while in office.

Voters have a right to know what values? inform your thinking on important issues. They have a right to know how you approach controversy and complexity. To the extent that faith, belief and prayer play a role, you can and should express that. However, because you are running to represent Americans of all faiths and those of no particular faith, these cannot be a way of proving your superiority. There is a delicate balance between the particularity of your own faith and the pluralism mandated by the Constitution that will be demanded of you once you are in office, and I urge you to strive for it at the debates and on the campaign trail.

While you have the right to abstain from discussion of your personal faith on the debate stage, the issues confronting religious communities in America are too important to ignore. Last week, bigoted protests targeted mosques and Muslim community centers across America. Members of Congress have infused our response to the Syrian refugee crisis with religious animus. And Kim Davis, a woman who sought to use a government office to pursue a sectarian religious agenda, has become a folk-hero for the Religious Right.

As a candidate for the highest office of the land it is critical that you have something to offer people of faith looking to you for answers on these issues. You must offer a vision of religious freedom, a promise of how to protect the rights of all Americans, to your would-be constituents. On behalf of Interfaith Alliance, I urge you to pursue an inclusive and pluralistic version of religious freedom that recognizes that no one’s rights should be sacrificed for another.

When the debate begins, I hope you will speak powerfully and clearly to all Americans about the importance of religious freedom. Speak honestly, speak with your best understanding of faith and the Constitution, but please do not mislead us for political gain.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Jack Moline
Executive Director
Interfaith Alliance

Rabbi Moline Attends Jumah Prayers at Mosque Targeted by Anti-Muslim Protestors

WASHINGTON – Anti-Muslim protestors have announced plans to stage hateful and intimidating protests at mosques across the country, including at Masjid Muhammad in Washington, D.C. Today, Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance, will attend Jumah prayers at Masjid Muhammad to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community targeted by protesters. Before attending these services Rabbi Moline said:

“I am appalled by the threat of protests designed to intimidate and bully Muslims on their way to prayer. Today I am proud to be stand with the community at Masjid Muhammad in Washington, D.C. as they offer weekly Jumah prayers. To target one one faith community is to attack the conscience of all people of faith; to endanger the ability of Muslims to worship is to jeopardize the religious freedom of us all. As I anticipate the transition from the Jumah prayer this afternoon to Kabbalat Shabbat, I am powerfully reminded of the diversity and freedom promised all religious communities at the very founding of our nation. That is what these protestors are seeking to undo, and that is why we are called to stand strong with people of all faiths in the face of bigotry and hatred.”

Interfaith Alliance Congratulates Baptist Joint Committee Leader, Brent Walker, on Prolific Career, Well-Earned Retirement

WASHINGTON – Today, Baptist Joint Committee Executive Director J. Brent Walker announced his intentions to retire after 27 years with the organization. Rev. Walker and BJC have been longtime allies of Interfaith Alliance in our work to protect religious freedom. Following this announcement Interfaith Alliance Executive Director Rabbi Jack Moline and Interfaith Alliance President Emeritus Rev. Welton Gaddy offered their congratulations on behalf of the organization.

Rabbi Jack Moline said, “For years Brent has been a rock among those working to protect religious freedom in Washington. I am deeply grateful for his steady and principled leadership at the Baptist Joint Committee and for the inspiration he provided for all of us in the interfaith community. His retirement is well-deserved and comes at the end of a long list of accomplishments – all of us here at Interfaith Alliance wish him the very best.”

Rev. Welton Gaddy said, “Brent Walker has been a strong and tireless voice among Baptist leaders for religious freedom, a right historically cherished in our community but that has deteriorated in recent years. Brent has brought a compassionate and cooperative spirit to this sacred work. A true friend and a trusted colleague, his leadership will be missed among those striving to safeguard religious freedom.”