Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
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Religious Leaders Join in Call for Honesty and Civility in Politics

  Saperstein and Edgar: Tactics that attack candidates for their childhood, use unattributed accusations to denigrate the good name of public figures, or manipulate religious fears for political gain represents a politics that divisively erodes the commonweal, corrodes our national discourse, and violates those key values of honesty and civility that should be at the heart of that discourse.

DATE: January 25, 2007

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Dan Webster, National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA
O-212-870-2252
Rachel Slomovitz, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
O- 202-387-2800/
rslomovitz@rac.org


Washington DC- In a statement released today, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and the Rev. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, called for greater honesty and civility in our nation’s politics and expressed concern about recent political attacks using unattributed sources and based on a candidate’s childhood.  A copy of the statement follows:

January 25, 2007
We write not to endorse Sen. Obama or any other candidate. We greatly respect the candidates in both parties and have worked cooperatively across party lines with them and with their colleagues.
 
We write because we are compelled to call on all of them, the nation, and the media, for greater honesty and civility in our nation’s politics.  In that spirit, we express our grave concern regarding the tactics being used in the recent attack on Sen. Obama’s religious upbringing. Tactics that attack candidates for their childhood, use unattributed accusations to denigrate the good name of public figures, or manipulate religious fears for political gain represents a politics that divisively erodes the commonweal, corrodes our national discourse, and violates those key values of honesty and civility that should be at the heart of that discourse.  What any candidate did from 6-10 years of age should not determine his or her qualifications or fitness for office.   Sen. Obama’s qualifications for office, like those of every candidate, should be judged on his record of public service, his character, actions and words over his career, not his third grade studies.

At a time when religious tensions threaten the stability of so much of the world, the last thing America needs is to bring that divisiveness and hatred into our own land.  This appeal to the deepest fears and prejudices of Americans ill-serves our nation.
 
In this spirit, we call on those perpetuating these attacks to desist immediately and we call on all the candidates and those campaigning for them to act during this 2008 Presidential race in a way that reflects the values of respect and civility we all must cherish if our nation is to remain a beacon of tolerance and light for the nations. 
 
 
Rabbi David Saperstein                     The Rev. Robert Edgar
Director                                                  General Secretary
Religious Action Center                     National Council of Churches
of Reform Judaism                             of Christ in the USA

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