Clergy and Faith Leaders Call for Civility

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Washington, DC – A group of prominent faith leaders brought together by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance, has released an open letter to other religious leaders, politicians, and pundits calling for civility in public debate and to specifically refrain from using inappropriate references to the Holocaust and Nazis. A copy of the letter along with its signers follows.

An open letter to religious leaders, politicians, pundits and the public:

In the last month, we have seen an alarming number of public figures use the Nazis and the Holocaust as metaphors in public debate on issues critical to this country. This development is but the most vile example of the disturbing language that has insinuated itself into our national dialogue. Examples of this divisive and ill-spirited rhetoric include:

•    Richard Land, a leader and spokesperson in the Southern Baptist Convention compared some of the proposed health care reforms to ”what the Nazis did.” Actually, Land bestowed a “Joseph Mengele Award” on Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the president’s chief health care adviser. After strong criticism, Dr. Land apologized for his comments, though he offered no apology to Dr. Emanuel.
•    The Republican National Committee was asked to take down a link to a YouTube video parody where subtitles in a movie portraying Hitler were doctored to convey the impression that Hitler was criticizing the Democrats’ health care proposals.
•    Fox News host Glenn Beck compared the treatment of Fox News by the Obama Administration to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.  
•    Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) referred to the failure to reform the U.S. health care system as a “holocaust.” Grayson later apologized stating that he in no way meant to minimize the Holocaust. 

The Holocaust was a tragic event in which the Nazis systematically murdered six million Jews. The Nazi regime that perpetrated this mass genocide was one of the most horrific in world history. There is no place in civil debate for the use of these types of metaphors.  Perpetrators of such language harm rather than help both the integrity of the democratic process and the credibility of religious commentary.

We, the undersigned faith leaders, call on our colleagues in all religious communities as well as elected leaders, commentators, pundits and others engaged in public debate to refrain specifically from using inappropriate Nazi and Holocaust references and, generally, to help restore civility to our national dialogue.


The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
President, Interfaith Alliance

Imam Mahdi Bray
Executive Director, Muslim American Society Freedom

Rev. Dr. David Currie
Texas Baptist Denominational Leader, Retired

The Right Reverend Jane Holmes Dixon
Former Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Rabbi David Gelfand
Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of the City of New York

Rev. Galen Guengerich
Senior Minister, All Souls Unitarian Church

Dr. Derrick Harkins
Senior Pastor, Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Maureen McCormack, SL
Sisters of Loretto

Rabbi Jack Moline
Rabbi of Agudas Achim Congregation

Rev. Peter Morales
President, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

Rev. Meg Riley
Director, Advocacy and Witness Programs, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

The Rev. Dr. Daniel Rosemergy
Minister, Greater Nashville Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Rabbi David Saperstein
Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed,
National Director, Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America

The Rev. Dr. Herbert D. Valentine
Founding President, Interfaith Alliance