CIP Endorses Orthodox [Jewish] Union Statement on U.S. Government and Religion
Center for Islamic Pluralism Executive Director Stephen Suleyman Schwartz commented in Washington, on December 15, following a declaration by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations regarding the U.S. government and respect for religion.
Schwartz said, "The OU has issued an exemplary statement of the issues that currently face Muslim believers in America, no less than Jews and Christians, in the debate over governmental secularism. The means to gain respect for Islam in America lies not in denying the legitimacy of Christian customs and symbols in a country largely founded by Christians, but in seeking broad respect for the monotheistic faiths. While we would not support specific legislation having to do with the status of Islam in America, it would be far better for Muslims to promote public recognition of the struggle for moderation within our religion than to denigrate the display of symbols from the dominant faith tradition.
"As the OU states, 'The United States has afforded Jews the opportunity to practice our faith with a freedom unprecedented and unsurpassed.' This comment applies to Muslims as much as it does to Jews, if not, tragically, more so; religious freedom for Muslims in America far exceeds liberty for Muslims in numerous countries where Islam is the majority faith. As Muslims we should join with the Jews in proclaiming, 'thank God and the leaders of this nation for that freedom.'
"Once again, the Orthodox Union, which is a religious and not a political body, has given an excellent example of how adherents to a non-Christian faith community should conduct themselves in America."
Qur'an 14:6: "Remember! Moses said to his people: "Do not forget the grace of God to you when you were delivered from the henchmen of Pharaoh: those people had imposed hard labor and punishment upon you, murdered your children, and allowed your women to survive: that was a mighty test by your Creator."
The OU statement follows:
UNION OF ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS
COMMENTS ON U.S. HOUSE RESOLUTIONS
EXPRESSING SUPPORT FOR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES
IN THE UNITED STATES
In connection with votes on two non-binding resolutions today in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America commented upon the resolutions which, in common, express congressional support for and appreciation of two religious communities in the United States.
H.Res. 579 (sponsored by Rep. Jo Ann Davis) - Expresses the sense of the House of Representatives recognizes the importance of and expresses support for the symbols and traditions of Christmas "for those who celebrate Christmas" and notes that the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution was not intended to "prohibit any mention of…religion…in civic dialogue."
H.Con.Res. 315 (sponsored by Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz) - Urges the President to issue a proclamation for the observance of an American Jewish History Month.
Leaders of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations issued the following statement in advance of the House voting on these resolutions:
The United States was founded by émigrés from Europe seeking religious freedom. To the blessing and benefit of millions of people, this nation has forged a path of unprecedented freedom for people of all religions and beliefs. The United States has afforded Jews the opportunity to practice our faith with a freedom unprecedented and unsurpassed in Diaspora nations across Jewish history. We thank God and the leaders of this nation for that freedom.
We concur with those who say that the Framers of the Constitution did not intend to demand that America's public square by purely secular. Rather, the Constitution and its traditions argue for a public domain which embraces and protects religious diversity. The resolutions being considered by the House today - taken together - are in keeping with this recognition and support for religious and cultural diversity.