Friday, 13 August 2010

Sarah Palin's "fear-mongering", "inflammatory statements" and "hateful rhetoric" in NY Mosque controversy openly condemned by 40 religious leaders


It's not the best week for Sarah Palin - again!

After the "Homer video" PR-disaster (video viewed by 953,657 people so far!) and the "Jack Kingston 'get your butt out of my state' controversy", the Queen has to deal with more unruly subjects:

More than 40 prominent Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders and religion scholars issued a statement today condemning the "xenophobia and religious bigotry" fueling the increasingly strident opposition to a proposed Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero. These leaders from New York City and across the country are specifically challenging the divisive rhetoric of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, who have strongly opposed a center that will promote interfaith relations, combat extremism, and offer community programs for Americans of all religious backgrounds.

This is excellent news. Finally, it seems that voices of reason become stronger and stronger - and that the old intimidation tactics don't work any more. Because you know what will happen now: The smears are going to start. The cultist brown shirt Palinbots are probably already busy typing the usual insults. What about: "Religious far leftist hacks" as a new term? Just wait for it!

For the background, please read EyeOnYou's excellent guest post about the New York mosque controversy.

The infamous tweet which started it all:

Refudiate screenshot

The complete press release can be found here. In addition, the statement on its own can be downloaded as a PDF-document here.

Interfaith Leaders Stand with Cordoba House, Denounce Hateful Rhetoric

As Catholic, evangelical, mainline Protestant, Jewish and Muslim leaders and scholars committed to religious freedom and inter-religious cooperation, we are deeply troubled by the xenophobia and religious bigotry that has characterized some of the opposition to a proposed Islamic center and mosque near where the World Trade Center towers once stood.

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, is the most recent prominent opponent to cast this debate in a way that demonizes all Muslims and exploits fear to divide Americans. "It is a sign of their contempt for Americans and their confidence in our historic ignorance that they would deliberately insult us this way," Gingrich said in a statement. Sarah Palin called plans for the center a "provocation." Fox News has aired a steady stream of irresponsible commentary and biased coverage that reduces what should be a civil debate into starkly combative terms.

The profound tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001 revealed the horror that can unfold when a small minority of violent extremists manipulates religious language for political gain and falsely claims to represent one of the world's great religions. We have witnessed this sinful corruption of religion across faith traditions throughout history and must condemn it without equivocation whenever or wherever it occurs. However, we fail to honor those murdered on that awful day - including Muslim Americans killed in the Twin Towers and Pentagon - by betraying our nation's historic commitment to religious liberty, fueling ugly stereotypes about Islam and demeaning the vast majority of Muslims committed to peace. The proposed mosque would be part of Cordoba House, a center open to all Americans that will provide Islamic, interfaith and secular programs. The project aims to support "integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture," according to the Cordoba Initiative, which promotes improved "Muslim-West relations." These are exactly the kind of efforts that foster dialogue, break down barriers and begin to build a world where religiously inspired violent extremism is less likely.

Mr. Gingrich, Ms. Palin and other prominent voices privileged to have the ear of the media would make a more lasting contribution to our nation if they stopped issuing inflammatory statements and instead helped inspire a civil dialogue between Christians, Jews and Muslims committed to a future guided by the principles of compassion, justice and peace. Fear-mongering and hateful rhetoric only undermine treasured values at the heart of diverse faith traditions and our nation's highest ideals.

Sarah "twit" Palin is not known to be a fan of compassion, justice and peace:

Sarah Palin - Refute Mosque tweet

From the press release:
"Christians who believe in the values of religious freedom and interfaith cooperation welcome plans for Cordoba House, a center of culture and dialogue that will honor our nation's highest ideals," said the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, President of the National Council of Churches. "We are deeply saddened by those who denigrate a religion which in so many ways is a religion of compassion and peace by associating all Muslims with violent extremism. That's like equating all Christians to Timothy McVeigh's actions. This center will reflect not only the best of Islam, but the enduring hope that Christians, Jews and Muslims can together find common ground in addressing the most urgent challenges of our time."

"Back in the fall of 2001, when President George W. Bush assured the American people that the War on Terror was not a war against Islam, it would have been hard to imagine a more picture perfect example of Muslim Americans exercising their civic responsibilities than by building a thirteen-story YMCA-style community center," said Rev. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director of the Interfaith Center of New York. "Cordoba House is exactly the kind of initiative that we need here in New York - it will serve people of all faith traditions and enrich the city, cultivating a society that lives up to our highest ideals, not our worse fears."

"I'm proud to join so many leaders from diverse faith traditions who recognize that fear-mongering and scapegoating 'the other' has no rightful place in a nation that strives to be a beacon of hope for all those seeking opportunity or escaping persecution," said Simon Greer, President and CEO of Jewish Funds for Justice. "At a time when Americans deserve real solutions to profound challenges, I am hopeful that the shrill voices of division will be drowned out by a chorus of citizens dedicated to working across lines of race and faith to serve the common good."

Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding in New York, said: "A fundamental tenet of the Torah teaches us to 'Love thy neighbor as thyself' (Leviticus 19:18). Far more challenging is the dictum, 'Love the stranger, for you too were strangers in the land of Egypt' (Deuteronomy 10:19). 'Love thy neighbor' is mentioned only once in the Bible while 'Love the stranger' is repeated 36 times. This added emphasis highlights how challenging and important it is to love someone different than yourself. Our great nation's history as a beacon of tolerance and religious freedom further encourages us to embrace the strangers in our midst of different faiths and backgrounds. The Cordoba House embodies these proud and sacred traditions."

This is an incredibly important statement. I doubt very much that Sarah Palin will understand it, as she herself was brought up in a very extreme religious environment and is not known to be a supporter of the "love thy neighbor" concept.

The statement was issued by "Faith in Public Life." From the website:

"Following the 2004 election, in which faith was often deployed in service of a narrow and partisan agenda, a diverse group of 40 religious leaders came together to advance a positive alternative: an inclusive and unifying faith movement advancing the common good in the public square. This group, including leaders such as Jim Wallis, Rabbi David Saperstein, Melissa Rogers, Rev. Jim Forbes, Ricken Patel and Sr. Catherine Pinkerton, envisioned a more robust and effective faith movement with the savvy, flexibility and nimbleness to thrive in a new political and media environment.

Faith in Public Life (FPL) was founded to fuel this burgeoning faith movement with cutting edge strategies and capacity-building resources. The founders gave FPL a movement-focused mission, rather than organizational or issue-focused one, and the specific mandate to lift up religious voices speaking for justice and the common good, build bridges and facilitate strategic alliances, and find new ways forward on historically divisive issues."


Sarah Palin clearly is the expert on divisive issues:

Sarah Palin - provocation tweet

Let's hope that this excellently worded statement by "Faith in Public Life" will receive a lot of public attention.

Please sign the "Faithful America" petition against anti-Muslim propaganda and for religious freedom and tolerance HERE.

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