National Religious and Community Leaders Speak Out against Anti-Muslim Rhetoric, in Defense of American Religious Liberty

On Press Release

This month, 50 individuals from a host of religious denominations and community organizations took a public stand against the currently alarming level of anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigotry in America.  The signers of the open letter, which ran as an advertisement in the Washington Post on December 21, assert that anti-Muslim rhetoric is a threat to the foundations of American democracy, and to the religious freedom of all Americans. This letter was a joint effort between Shoulder to Shoulder, the Inclusive America Project of the Aspen Institute’s Justice and Society Program, and the denominations and organizations represented in the letter’s signatories.

An Open Letter to American Politicians and the American Public

I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance, or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.

                                                                                          -Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Edward Dowse

In the past weeks, some politicians, candidates and commentators have not followed Jefferson’s example, nor that of our first President, George Washington, when he declared in his letter to the leaders of the Touro Synagogue that the Constitution “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” Ironically, the highly offensive remarks of these individuals deny the foundation of the Constitution, which our political leaders, through their oath of office, swear to defend. Our religious principles teach us to love and respect each other, and our civic responsibility demands that we take a public stand against this gross injustice happening before our eyes today.

Simply, suggestions that a Muslim cannot serve as President, or that Muslims should be registered and their mosques closed, are un-American and un-Constitutional. As persons of faith and as Americans, we deeply value our own freedom of religion in this country and the religious freedom of others. It is thus a matter of grave concern to us that this most basic of American precepts is endangered.

Good citizens must speak out. As faith and community leaders that value our own freedom of religion, we state unequivocally that we love our Muslim siblings in humanity. They serve our communities as doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, journalists, first responders, and as members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Congress. Muslims are our equals. They are no different than anyone else pursuing the American dream. Together, we are proud Americans. Together, we choose freedom, not fear.

So stand with us. Stand with the values enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. And in so doing, send a message to the rest of the world that we live by our nation’s own unswerving standards…and no one else’s.

Follow this link to view the letter and 50 signatories.

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