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Reform Jewish Movement Condemns Reverend Falwell's Attack on Islam

Pelavin: An attack upon the central and prophetic figure of any religion is inevitably an attempt to delegitimize the religion itself, and this we find particularly deplorable.

Contact:Alexis Rice or Matthew Soffer

202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, October 8, 2002- In response to an interview with Reverend Jerry Falwell on CBS's 60 Minutes this past weekend, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

We condemn the hateful language of Reverend Jerry Falwell, in an interview aired Sunday, October 7th on CBS's 60 Minutes. Reverend Falwell's statement - that "Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses, and…Mohammed set an opposite example…" - is intolerant and destructive. Inflammatory remarks such as, "Muhammed was a terrorist," damage the fabric of cultural and religious diversity in our communities by perpetuating stereotypes and mistrust. An attack upon the central and prophetic figure of any religion is inevitably an attempt to delegitimize the religion itself, and this we find particularly deplorable.

In the current climate of xenophobia, there is an increased need for constructive inter-religious dialogue. Reverend Falwell's remarks serve only to threaten the climate of religious tolerance and freedom that we have fought so hard to secure in the United States. As a community so often the victim of persecution, we have a special obligation not only to speak out against the persecution of other religious groups, but to take affirmative steps to prevent such persecutions in the future. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught, "Intolerance anywhere is a threat to tolerance everywhere." In that spirit, we call on the religious community at large to make concerted efforts to squelch the growth of intolerance by cultivating tolerance and respect for the religious diversity that defines our nation.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .



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