I’m proud to be among a number of PFAW Foundation Board and staff members, as well as members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, who joined around 140 other religious liberty advocates in calling for action by our elected leaders in light of the disturbing recent physical attacks on religious communities and some of the troubling rhetoric we have seen as well. The letter sent to the president and vice president, as well as the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate, represents enormous religious, ideological, and other diversity. Signers include individuals with affiliations ranging from PFAW Foundation to the National Association of Evangelicals, as well as three Catholic bishops or archbishops along with rabbis, imams, Buddhist monks, and people of other faiths.
After referencing the heinous attacks on houses of worship over the last several years, including the recent March 15 attack on two mosques in New Zealand, the letter notes the importance of the words and rhetoric used by our political leaders. It calls upon our leaders to help ensure that people can practice their faith without fear for their physical safety and to ensure that these leaders’ words and rhetoric “comport with the spirit of the Constitution” and help “unify, strengthen, and keep Americans safe.”
In the spirit of nonpartisanship, and to achieve broad cosponsorship, the letter does not specifically criticize any particular elected officials. But it asks that all our leaders affirm and follow a number of principles outlined in the letter. These include that individuals “of all faiths and none have equal dignity” and rights; that a person “is not more or less American because of his or her faith;” and that “scapegoating, stereotyping and spreading false information about any person or community” based on faith, or fomenting “fear about groups based on attributes like religion, race or ethnicity,” are “unacceptable.”
We hope that this letter will in fact produce action by our elected leaders. Unfortunately, some of our leaders, most notably President Trump, have previously violated these important principles. I am confident that the PFAW Foundation, as well as PFAW, will not hesitate to criticize government leaders who fail to live up to them in the future.