Statement from American Religious Leaders in Response to Mass Distribution of ‘Obsession’

Posted Oct 6, 2008      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version Bookmark and Share

Statement from American Religious Leaders in Response to Mass Distribution of ‘Obsession’

We, the undersigned religious leaders, representing a wide spectrum of theological beliefs and political persuasions, have come together in moral consensus to voice our deep concern over the recent distribution of a deeply divisive and anger-provoking DVD called “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” to residents across the United States.

The singular impact of this DVD is not to fight our common threat of terrorism, but to mischaracterize Islam in a way that de‐humanizes Muslims.

Unfortunately, 28 million copies of the DVD were distributed in 12 electoral “swing states” by 70 newspapers as a paid advertisement. This is a testament to how widely acceptable anti‐Muslim prejudice has become in our country. If these same publications had distributed a film portraying the Ku Klux Klan’s views as common to all Christians, the outrage would have been immediate and overwhelming.

We do not pretend to know the goals of those who distributed this DVD. We do know, however, that the distribution and content of this DVD is absolutely inconsistent with what it means to be fair-minded Americans.  Invoking fear and hatred in American voters is not the way to address the real problems of extremism and terrorism that our nation faces.

“Obsession” serves as a divisive political ploy that undermines the integrity of American religious pluralism. Indeed, it is the duty of every American to stand against those who would divide our common and cherished beliefs by inciting fear and furthering ignorant stereotypes.

We invite those who distributed this DVD to engage us in a conversation about what it means to be a believing American, and how our beliefs about how we treat each other, across deep differences, is the best way to confront and defeat extremism and terrorism.

We are determined to lead our communities in the effort to foster mutual understanding, to stand firm against the tide of bigotry, and protect American pluralism. As for the rest of America, please stand with us, determined in your conviction to lead our communities toward mutual understanding while protecting and promoting the security of the United States and its precious pluralism.

Signatories (in alphabetical order):

Salam Al-Marayati
Executive Director
Muslim Public Affairs Council

Ambassador J. Brady Anderson
Former Administrator of USAID

Nihad Awad
Executive Director
Council on American-Islamic Relations

Rector Edwin J. Bacon
All Saints Church, Pasadena (CA)

Rabbi Leonard I. Beerman
Leo Baeck Temple, Los Angeles

Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak

Rabbi Phyllis Berman
Executive Director
Riverside Language Program (Philadelphia, PA)

Rev. Richard R. Bunce
Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace

Vic Compher
Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation

Rev. Jim Conn
Director of New Ministries
California-Pacific Annual Conference
United Methodist Church (Santa Monica, CA)

Marie Dennis
Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement

David Ensign
Clarendon Presbyterian Church (Arlington, VA)

Dr. John Esposito
Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding
Georgetown University

Rabbi Tirzah Firestone
Congregation Nevei Kodesh (Boulder, Colorado)

Pastor Joel Hunter
Senior Pastor, Northland Church (Longwood, FL)
Board Member, National Association of Evangelicals

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling
Board Member
Shalom Center (Philadelphia, PA)

Bishop Steve Gilliland
Director of Muslim Relations, Southern California
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Rabbi Marc Gopin
Center on Religion, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution
George Mason University

Rev. Leonard B. Jackson
Senior Advisor
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa

Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs
Progressive Faith Foundation

Mark C. Johnson
Executive Director
The Fellowship of Reconciliation

Rev. Peter Laarman
Executive Director
Progressive Christians Uniting

Dr. Ingrid Mattson
Islamic Society of North America

Douglas E. Mirell, Esq.
Progressive Jewish Alliance

Imam Mohamed Magid
All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS Center)
Sterling, VA

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid
Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago

Sheila Musaji
The American Muslim

Islamic Center of East Bay (Antioch, CA)

Jane Ramsey
Executive Director
Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (Chicago, IL)

Rev. George Regas
Rector Emeritus
All Saints Church (Pasadena, CA)

David A. Robinson
Executive Director
Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed
National Director of Interfaith & Community Alliances
Islamic Society of North America

Chris Seiple
Institute for Global Engagement

Rabbi Gerald Serotta
Shirat HaNefesh (Silver Spring, MD)

Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith
Ecumenical & Interreligious Officer
Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Rev. Robert V. Thompson
Lake Street Church of Evanston (IL)

Rabbi Brian Walt
Rabbis for Human Rights - North America (West Tisbury, MA)

To sign onto this statement, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with your full name, title, affiliation and contact information.  Source:  MPAC