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Reform Jewish Leader Calls on Rev. Robertson to Retract Anti-Islamic Remarks

Pelavin: “How disappointing to see a religious leader stoop to this level, attempting to delegitimatize one of the world’s great faiths based on the actions of someone who perverts its teachings.”

Contact: Kate Bigam or Liz Piper-Goldberg
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 16, 2009 – Mark Pelavin, Director of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs of Reform Judaism and Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, today sent a letter to Rev. Pat Robertson expressing serious concerns about recent anti-Islamic statement made on Robertson’s television show, “The 700 Club.” Full text of the letter follows:

Dear Rev. Robertson,

On behalf of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, representing the largest stream of American Jewry in North America, I write to express our outrage at the remarks pertaining to Islam that you made on “The 700 Club” on November 9, 2009.

When speaking about this month’s tragic shooting at Ft. Hood, you referred to the alleged shooter’s religion, saying, “Islam … [is not] a religion, it’s a political system, a violent political system, bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination, that is the ultimate aim…and I think we should treat it as such and treat its adherents as such as we would members of the communist party or members of some Fascist group.”

We understand and share your concern about Muslim extremists. Too often, they have blasphemed their own faith, just as extremist Jews and extremist Christians have done. The danger posed by those who resort to violence in the name of religion is real, and it does seem to have been a significant part of the story at Fort Hood. But, of course, that is not what you said.

Rather you made the outrageous and bigoted claim that Islam itself is the problem – and, in doing so, you denigrated the faith of some 1.5 billion people.

How disappointing to see a religious leader stoop to this level, attempting to delegitimize one of the world’s great faiths based on the actions of someone who perverts its teachings. Do you not have any Muslim friends? Have you no Muslim colleagues? Have you never met a peaceful Muslim, someone with whom you might find common ground? If not, how sad. If so, how do you reconcile their life with your claim that Islam is “a violent political system” and “not a religion”?

One of the advantages of having your own television program is the opportunity to revisit statements you have made. I sincerely hope you will do so in this case.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism , whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis , whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis.



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