Statement on the Film Obsession

Rabbi Jack Moline

Posted Oct 30, 2008      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Statement on the Film Obsession    

by Rabbi Jack Moline

We at the Interfaith Alliance are devoted to protecting faith and freedom, and I cannot think of an issue more within our mission than the one we address today.

In the Jewish tradition, we hold a particular disdain for people who are, as we say, “sinners with the permission of the Torah.” That is, we deplore individuals who selectively apply the permissions and restrictions to claim that they are within the sacred instructions in pursuit of disreputable and destructive ends.

If you would like to see an example of such people in an American context, you need only look to the production and distribution of “Obsession.” Claiming a concern for the United States and documentation of aberrant elements in disparate expressions of Islam, the creators of this film have constructed a thinly-veiled call for disparagement and distrust of all Muslims. And exercising the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution, the distributors of this DVD have attempted, by inference and innuendo, to limit the rights of Muslims to enjoy the free exercise of their faith. To add insult to injury, the targeted markets for this film are states considered critical to both Presidential candidates in order to influence the outcome of the election in favor of their candidate. Free expression, free press, free elections – all of these values that Americans cherish and protect are being used cynically to justify the excesses and instigations of “Obsession.”

Terrorism is a real threat to this country and, in fact, to every country. Our next President, whoever he may be, will need to deal with terrorism as a strategy on many fronts and from many sources. The misdirection of “Obsession” not only sullies and alienates the adherents of Islam, but distracts the attention of all concerned Americans from the genuine threats from terrorist renegades of many origins, including non-Muslim Americans.

We at the Interfaith Alliance call on both Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama to repudiate this film and reject the support of those associated with it. We call on them to promote a pluralistic view of religion and faith as a source of unity and healing. We call on both candidates to reject the use of religion as a political weapon. The good work in interfaith relations all over this country would be strengthened by encouragement from the next President of the United States.

Before I introduce Rev. Welton Gaddy, who is standing by on the telephone, I would like to add a note of personal disappointment that the Clarion Fund and its founder, who is also the producer of this film, are tied closely to a prominent Jewish organization. As a board member of the Interfaith Alliance, I promised to turn a critical eye first to my own community. The rabbi whose name appears in the credits of this film as producer and co-writer has a hard repentance ahead of him on Yom Kippur. I will include his actions in my own confession of sins.

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The Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, the Interfaith Alliance has 185,000 members across the country from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition. For more information visit