WASHINGTON – Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance, was joined by Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, in condemning offensive remarks by U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa. Yesterday Rep. King claimed on the Deace Show that American mosques are communication centers for ISIS and terrorist organizations and argued “we ought to have people in those mosques watching to see what’s going on.” Interfaith Alliance has been a leading voice against anti-Muslim bigotry and misguided approaches to surveillance of the Muslim community.  

“Working to counter terrorism at home and abroad is a necessary goal and critical for American national security, but targeting and denigrating American Muslims will not help accomplish it,” said Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance. “Without a specific and credible threat, the type of surveillance that Congressman King advocates would represent a serious breach of the First Amendment rights every American is entitled to – including Muslims. Worse yet, using precious resources to surveil mosques will only serve as a distraction from real opportunities to root out extremists. The accusations that Rep. King makes only serve to alienate the majority of American Muslims who are a bulwark against extremism.”

Added Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, “The First Amendment protects the rights of all Americans, regardless of faith. The same religious freedom that prevents a minister from being prosecuted for what he or she says from the pulpit prevents the infiltration of mosques by law enforcement without cause. Congressman King owes an apology to the Muslim communities in Iowa – and Iowans of all faiths. He should not take our country’s religious freedom so lightly.”

Interfaith Alliance has long worked for an end to discrimination motivated by religion and to safeguard the Constitution’s promise of religious freedom. Interfaith Alliance co-authored the resource “What is the Truth About American Muslims: Questions and Answers,” with the Religious Freedom Education Project in order to counter misinformation about and misunderstandings of Islam and of the American Muslim community. More recently, Interfaith Alliance drafted an amicus brief in the case Hassan v. City of New York condemning the NYPD’s surveillance of mosques and Muslim community centers as a violation of the First Amendment.

Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.