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Reform Jewish Leader Calls on Reverend Robertson to Honor the Spirit of President Bush's Call for Greater Religious Tolerance

Pelavin: Rev. Robertson's opposition to the President's message is more than a simple "disagreement." Religious tolerance and diversity are central to the character of our nation.

Contact:Alexis Rice or Matthew Soffer
202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, November 15, 2002 - In response to Reverend Pat Robertson's rejection of President Bush's call for greater religious tolerance, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Director of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Rev. Robertson's opposition to the President's message is more than a simple "disagreement." Religious tolerance and diversity are central to the character of our nation.

Immediately following the President's recent denunciation of intolerant remarks about Islam, in a November 14th interview on The 700 Club (Christian Broadcasting Network), Rev. Pat Robertson once again voiced shrill, bigoted remarks, as he called on "Jewish friends in America …[to] read the Koran, and see what it says…and when you get through, do us a favor, and don't criticize your friends, but see who your real enemies are."

Rev. Robertson's askew and narrow-minded interpretation of Islam is offensive, not only to the majority of peace-loving Muslims worldwide, but to all who cherish the fabric of cultural and religious diversity that defines our nation. In the current climate of xenophobia, responsible religious and political leaders must denounce such bigotry. There is a palpable need for the kind of interfaith dialogue that fosters tolerance and understanding across cultural differences, and, yes, which allows us to ardently challenge each other when we think a partner is wrong and has failed to squelch religious bigotry and intolerance.

In this spirit, we welcome President Bush's recent remarks. Rev. Robertson's opposition to the President's message is more than a simple "disagreement." Religious tolerance and diversity are central to the character of our nation. We call on Rev. Robertson - and all religious leaders who have engaged in similar hateful speech - to honor the words of President Bush with an immediate apology, for the sake of religious decency.

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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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