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Union of American Hebrew Congregations Condemns Russina Politician For Bigoted, Anti-Religious Comments

WASHINGTON July 3, 1996- The Union of American Hebrew Congregations denounces the bigoted and anti-religious comments last week made by retired Russian general Alexander Lebed. As reported in the media, Lebed callously likened Mormonism to "mold and scum." He offend further by saying that only three religions -- Orthodox Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism -- are "established" in Russia, failing to recognize both Catholicism and Judaism. His subsequent comments, rather than repudiating the earlier remarks, merely maintain that he had not intended to offend Mormons. That explanation appears wholly uncredible.

Such comments, by a high-ranking leader of a world power, are intolerable and must be denounced by the entire world community. Words of bigotry threaten our hopes for a new order in which tolerance and respect for the diversity of the world's inhabitants is central; they pose an even greater threat when made by key political figures who exercise great influence on national policy and standards. In this spirit we urge Lebed to disavow his earlier statements and to affirm the central importance of religious liberty and religious tolerance in Russia.

--Statement of Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Judith Hertz, Chair of the Interreligious Affairs Committee of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations
July 3, 1996

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews in 850 congregations throughout North America.

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