Jan 30 2015
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.
Rabbi Jack Moline,
Jan 28 2015
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:
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.
Rabbi Jack Moline,
Interim Executive Director
Jan 20 2015
Washington, D.C. – Interfaith Alliance announced today that Rabbi Jack Moline has been named as the executive director of Interfaith Alliance effective immediately. Rabbi Moline assumes this position following the retirement of Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy. A past member of Interfaith Alliance’s board of directors, Rabbi Moline served as its chair from 2006 until 2008. Rabbi Moline will oversee all aspects of the organization's work and serve as its primary spokesperson. Moline will initially serve in the post on an interim basis, as the board considers all options for the leadership of Interfaith Alliance.
In announcing the appointment, current chair of the board, Helio Fred Garcia said of Moline, “We could not ask for a better leader than Jack for the organization during this period of transition. The work we are doing is far too critical to allow us to lose any momentum. Jack will make sure that does not happen. He has been a powerful voice in defense of religious freedom for everyone regardless of his or her faith or belief. He understands the value of bringing together diverse voices and perspectives to challenge extremism and build common ground.”
Moline said of his appointment, “Any American engaged in the society around us understands the importance of the work we do at Interfaith Alliance. I have been privileged to be a part of the work of this organization for more than 18 years in defense of religious freedom. We will not lose any momentum as we continue to protect faith and freedom, challenge extremism and build common ground.”
Interfaith Alliance’s past president, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy added, “Jack has been a friend and ally since my first day at Interfaith Alliance. He really knows the challenges we face and I couldn’t be happier that he answered the call to lead Interfaith Alliance. I made a commitment when I stepped down that I would go from leading this organization to being it’s most loyal supporter; Jack’s leadership only serves to solidify that commitment more firmly.”
Jan 08 2015
WASHINGTON – Following this morning’s shooting at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris carried out allegedly by Muslim men in response to the paper’s portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed, Helio Fred Garcia, chair of the board of Interfaith Alliance, released this statement:
“My thoughts and prayers, and the prayers of every member of the Interfaith Alliance, are with the victims of this horrific attack, their friends and family, and the people of France. Violence negates the basic premise of every religion: that every human being is endowed with a unique worth and dignity. Such acts, when carried out in the name of religion, do an even greater injustice by transforming what is, for many, a force for meaning, justice and community, into a tool of hatred and division.
“It is particularly troubling that today’s attack targeted a media outlet. Those of us who are passionate about defending the First Amendment in the United States know that the freedom of speech, freedom of press and freedom of religion are values that grow in tandem. We can no more defend religious communities by attacking freedom of speech than we can defend freedom of speech by compromising religious liberty. French and American law enforcement, the media, and all of us must remember this fact as we seek a way forward from today’s tragedy. To respond to this event by demonizing and targeting the Muslim faith and community is both to misunderstand the nature of freedom and to accept the extremist’s logic of hatred and division. It is only through policies and discourses of civility and mutual understanding can we pursue, together, a world where tragedies like today’s attack are far less common.”