Washington Post Blog: Heeding Romney’s words on religious liberty

Recently, President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gave interviews with “Cathedral Age,” a magazine produced by the Washington National Cathedral, in which they reflected on the role of faith in America.

As religious leaders from distinct Abrahamic faith traditions, we were pleased to read this statement from Romney:

“Every religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These should not be bases for criticism, but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Because we concur with these sentiments we were very concerned when reports circulated that the Republican Platform, which was approved Tuesday at the Republican National Convention, includes support for federal legislation barring judges from consulting foreign, international or religious law when deciding cases.

A number of states have already considered legislation similar to this RNC plank, each based on framework legislation entitled “American Laws for American Courts,” which initially openly targeted sharia law (Islamic law). Passing this legislation has been a major goal of the American Public Policy Alliance and the author of the legislation, David Yerushalmi. Similar bills have been introduced in at least 23 states and Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arizona and Kansas have passed the legislation

Rather, the entire anti-foreign law movement is an effort to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment through fear-based rhetoric. Given the wave of anti-Muslim attacks across the U.S.in the early part of this month – at least 10 in two weeks – we are deeply concerned about the tremendous growth in violence aimed at American Muslims and those perceived to be Muslims, and are working hard to stop it.

Certainly, this platform does not help “Americans of different faiths meet and stand as a nation, united,” as Romney says he desires. Rather, it only serves to divide us.

As religious leaders, we urge all Americans to reject this movement, which dangerously stigmatizes American Muslims, and to uphold the vision so strongly articulated in Romney’s recent “Cathedral Age” interview:

“I believe that while we are a country with so many differences in creed and theology, we can all meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.”

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