Goode’s Attack on Muslims in Government an Affront to the Legacy of Thomas Jefferson and the Values and Traditions of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 28, 2006

Contact: Nick Berning or Josh Glasstetter at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

PFAW President Says Republican Congressional Leadership Has Responsibility Under the Constitution to Repudiate Goode’s ‘Radical’ Statements

“That all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

– The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Authored by Thomas Jefferson

Congressman Virgil Goode (R-Va.) recently sent a letter to his constituents warning that the election to Congress of Minnesota State Senator Keith Ellison, who is Muslim, poses a serious threat to our nation’s traditional values. When the letter became public this week, Goode stood by it.

Today, People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas responded by noting that it is Goode’s bias, and not the election of Ellison, that threatens America’s—and Virginia’s—traditions and values. Neas called on the Republican leadership in Congress to repudiate Goode’s radical statements.

“America has a proud tradition of religious freedom, which is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution. And freedom of religion is especially important in Virginia—it was one of that great state’s founding principles, and is protected in the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, which was authored by Thomas Jefferson,” Neas said. “Congressman Goode’s radical and offensive suggestion that Muslims can’t be patriotic American citizens and serve honorably in public office is an affront to the legacy of Thomas Jefferson and the values and traditions of Virginia. Maybe it’s time for Congressman Goode to reread the Constitution, which explicitly says that there shall be no ‘religious test’ to hold public office.”

Goode’s district includes both Monticello, the mountaintop home near Charlottesville where Jefferson spent most of his life, and the University of Virginia, which Jefferson founded.

“The Republican leadership in Congress has an obligation to all Americans to repudiate these comments and reiterate its support for the Constitution’s protections of religious liberty,” Neas said. “America’s diversity and freedoms are not a problem; they are the source of our strength. The sooner Congressman Goode and others upset by the election of Keith Ellison figure that out, the better.”