Press Releases

Rabbi Jack Moline Says “Prayer Without Action is Just Noise” In Wake of San Bernardino Shooting

WASHINGTON – Following the tragic shooting in San Bernardino, California, Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance, released this statement:

“It’s time for a moratorium on thoughts and prayers. From everyone.

“I am a person of faith. I have spent my entire adult life as a member of the clergy. I have an intensely personal relationship with the God in whom I believe. I pray every day. And here is what I know: praying after the fact for something preventable is an affront to God and humanity.

“The perpetrators of the tragedy in San Bernardino and Savannah yesterday have one thing in common with other such tragedies for which ‘thoughts and prayers’ have been offered, including by me. It is not any of these things: religion, race, ethnicity, zip code, economic status, party affiliation, mental health, age, wealth, educational opportunity, employment, or knowledge of the Constitution. The one thing?

“It is guns. Guns, guns, guns.

“All sorts of Americans are proclaiming that we have to stop pretending there is no problem with a particular community or a particular health care issue or a particular ideology. Ladies and gentlemen, stop pretending there is no problem with guns. Guns, guns, guns.

“My tradition teaches that prayer without action is just noise. Not a one of the faith communities in this country believes that prayer is magic – some sort of incantation that will reverse the order of the universe, let alone manipulate an omnipotent God. Prayer works only if it softens the hardened heart and opens it to the message of healing and justice that flows through Scripture. Prayer works only if it leads to contrition and repentance. Prayer works only if it is not an excuse for self-justification.

“A few months ago, on the holiest day of my Jewish tradition, I was among people of all ages to spend the entire day in thoughts and prayers. But before we uttered a single word, we were admonished by the words of rabbis who taught two millennia ago: a person who says, 'I will sin and then repent, I will sin and then repent has no power to repent.'

“The problem is guns. Guns, guns, guns.

“And the answer not thoughts and prayers. From anyone.”

Interfaith Alliance Mourns the Passing of Former Board Member David Cohen

Washington, DC – On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of Interfaith Alliance, Executive Director Rabbi Jack Moline released the following statement following the death of former board member David Cohen.

“It is with great sadness that we learned of David Cohen’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. David was an inspiration to a generation of activists looking to change the world. David’s decades of experience in the non-profit advocacy world was an invaluable resource to Interfaith Alliance as we sought to increase the impact of our work. We were honored to have him as a member of our board and to consider ourselves just one small piece of the incredible legacy he leaves behind.”

“Particularly for those of us living in the Washington area, we will miss seeing him around town, at community events and activist meetings and, of course, at Politics and Prose.”

Rabbi Jack Moline Urges No Religious Test For Syrian Refugees

WASHINGTON – The following remarks were given by Rabbi Jack Moline at a press conference today organized by Church World Service at the National Press Club where interfaith leaders called on U.S. politicians to continue to welcome Syrian refugees. This press conference came after numerous Governors announced that their states would not accept Syrian refugees, and several pieces of legislation were introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate to stop the refugee resettlement program or to limit it to Christian refugees.

“My friends, when the Constitution says there shall be no religious test for office, it means no religious test. And when the President says there will be no religious test for our compassion, it means no religious test. When I suggest to you there should be no religious test for the humanity of a refugee from oppression, it means no religious test. When I tell you the Declaration of Independence insists that there is no religious test for unalienable human rights, it means no religious test. When I affirm that every faith community I know has no religious test for being a child of God, it means no religious test. When I say that there is no religious test for the devotion of parents to the safety and security of their children, it means no religious test.

“Listen to me, my fellow Americans and my fellow lovers of America. My people found refuge in this country when they were tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Your people came to these shores last year, last decade, last century – hell, if they came 250 years ago it’s still current events by historical standards. They weren’t all wealthy, they weren’t all smart, they weren’t all skilled and I am willing to bet they weren’t all nice. But they came here knowing that to hold office, find compassion, to flee oppression, to enjoy their rights, to affirm their humanity, to protect their children, to ensure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity, there was no religious test.

“The founding president of this great country was the one who said “happily the Government of the United States…gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,” and anyone who wants that job needs to live up to that mandate.

“So let me ask just one time, if the legacy of this country is to give to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, what does that mean when our fellow human beings who are running for their lives ask us to be true to that legacy?

“Say it with me: no religious test.”

Faith and Civil Rights Groups Deeply Troubled by Anti-Muslim Response to Paris Attacks

Interfaith Alliance and Muslims Advocates Call on Public Officials to Focus on Unity in Aftermath of Tragedy

We are deeply troubled by the anti-Muslim response by public officials to the Paris attacks. It is disturbing that public officials—including U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY)—would exploit the Paris tragedy to advance their own political agendas. At a time when we join the world to support the people of Paris, we are concerned that public officials like Rubio and King seek to divide instead of unite us.

In a Sunday interview with George Stephanopolous on ABC This Week, Senator Rubio compared Muslims to Nazis. Speaking on New York radio with John Catsimatidis also on Sunday, Representative King called for increased surveillance of American Muslim communities

All Americans want to be kept safe from acts of violence, whatever the source. But promoting the idea of a “clash of civilizations” and suggesting extremist violence is rooted within Islam only serves to further the agenda of violent extremists. It also sends a dangerous signal that our American Muslim neighbors are a threat, worsening the environment of anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crimes.

We call on our public officials to refrain from religious bigotry and focus instead on unity in the aftermath of the Paris tragedy. There are real consequences to creating an anti-Muslim climate. In Florida over the weekend, a Tampa Bay area mosque received a threatening voicemail that warned of a militia coming to fire bomb the mosque and shoot worshippers. Local and federal law enforcement are investigating the threat.

Now is a moment for all communities to come together in the spirit of our American ideals of freedom and justice, and not allow the Paris tragedy to divide us along faith lines.