Heeding Romney’s words on religious liberty

GETTY IMAGES Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney delivers his nomination acceptance speech during the final day of … Continued


Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney delivers his nomination acceptance speech during the final day of the Republican National Convention.

Recently, President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gave interviews with “Cathedral Age,” a magazine produced by the Washington National Cathedral, in which they reflected on the role of faith in America.

As religious leaders from distinct Abrahamic faith traditions, we were pleased to read this statement from Romney:

We couldn’t agree more.

Because we concur with these sentiments we were very concerned when reports circulated that the Republican Platform, which was approved Tuesday at the Republican National Convention, includes support for federal legislation barring judges from consulting foreign, international or religious law when deciding cases.

A number of states have already considered legislation similar to this RNC plank, each based on framework legislation entitled “American Laws for American Courts,” which initially openly targeted sharia law (Islamic law). Passing this legislation has been a major goal of the American Public Policy Alliance and the author of the legislation, David Yerushalmi. Similar bills have been introduced in at least 23 states and Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arizona and Kansas have passed the legislation.

However, despite claims from the legislation’s supporters, its true intent is not to ensure that foreign laws do not control American courts. That question has already been answered by the U.S. Constitution, which states: “The Constitution, and the laws of the United Sates…shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby.”

Rather, the entire anti-foreign law movement is an effort to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment through fear-based rhetoric. Given the wave of anti-Muslim attacks across the U.S.in the early part of this month – at least 10 in two weeks – we are deeply concerned about the tremendous growth in violence aimed at American Muslims and those perceived to be Muslims, and are working hard to stop it.

Recent eruptions of anti-Muslim violence are a feverish escalation of over-the-top rhetoric that has existed in the U.S. since 9/11, and especially in the past two years since the so-called “Ground Zero” mosque controversy. This month, a mosque and an Islamic school in the Chicago area were targeted, respectively, with a homemade acid cocktail and gunfire. The site of a future mosque in Southern California was desecrated with pig parts. A mosque in Oklahoma City was shot at with a paintball gun. In Joplin, Mo., a mosque that had been the target of arson on July 4 was burned to the ground.

It is important that religious, social and political leaders from all faith backgrounds raise our voices in support for the religious freedom of American Muslims, and recognize the contributions that they make to American society. American Muslims serve the United States as teachers, volunteers, soldiers, law enforcement officers, doctors, and in many other professions. These individuals are not asking for sharia law to supplant U.S. law. In addition, barring judges from considering ‘religious’ law more broadly would not only infringe on the rights of American Muslims, it would threaten Jews, as well, preventing Jewish families from using Jewish religious courts.

Now that support for this legislation has been adopted as an official plank in the RNC platform, will Romney and other members of the Republican Party publicly disavow it or will they succumb to this hateful rhetoric? Will Romney credibly be able to claim to support religious tolerance at the same time his own party is targeting the American Muslim community?

Certainly, this platform does not help “Americans of different faiths meet and stand as a nation, united,” as Romney says he desires. Rather, it only serves to divide us.

As religious leaders, we urge all Americans to reject this movement, which dangerously stigmatizes American Muslims, and to uphold the vision so strongly articulated in Romney’s recent “Cathedral Age” interview:

Rabbi Marc Schneier is president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and Imam Mohamed Magid is president of the Islamic Society of North America. They are executive committee members of Shoulder-to-Shoulder, a national campaign of interfaith, faith-based and religious organizations dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

Read More Articles

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.