Forty different Catholic, evangelical, mainline Protestant, Jewish and Muslim leaders and scholars came together to release a statement condemning the hate language of Fox News, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich as it relates to the so called Ground Zero mosque, “Fear-mongering and hateful rhetoric only undermine treasured values at the heart of diverse faith traditions and our nation’s highest ideals.”
The statement released by Faith In The Public Life condemned the religious bigotry of Gingrich, Palin, and Fox News, “As Catholic, evangelical, mainline Protestant, Jewish and Muslim leaders and scholars committed to religious freedom and inter-religious cooperation, we are deeply troubled by the xenophobia and religious bigotry that has characterized some of the opposition to a proposed Islamic center and mosque near where the World Trade Center towers once stood.”
It continued, “Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, is the most recent prominent opponent to cast this debate in a way that demonizes all Muslims and exploits fear to divide Americans.”It is a sign of their contempt for Americans and their confidence in our historic ignorance that they would deliberately insult us this way,” Gingrich said in a statement. Sarah Palin called plans for the center a “provocation.” Fox News has aired a steady stream of irresponsible commentary and biased coverage that reduces what should be a civil debate into starkly combative terms.”
Rev. Peg Chemberlin, President of the National Council of Churches said, “We are deeply saddened by those who denigrate a religion which in so many ways is a religion of compassion and peace by associating all Muslims with violent extremism. That’s like equating all Christians to Timothy McVeigh’s actions. This center will reflect not only the best of Islam, but the enduring hope that Christians, Jews and Muslims can together find common ground in addressing the most urgent challenges of our time.”
Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby said, “It’s simply wrong for Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin to malign all Muslims by comparing this cultural center and mosque with a radical ideology that led to the horrific attacks of 9-11. We fail to honor those killed by terrorists when we betray the bedrock principle of religious freedom that has guided our democracy for centuries.”
The statement concluded by calling for an end to the fear mongering and hate filled rhetoric, “Mr. Gingrich, Ms. Palin and other prominent voices privileged to have the ear of the media would make a more lasting contribution to our nation if they stopped issuing inflammatory statements and instead helped inspire a civil dialogue between Christians, Jews and Muslims committed to a future guided by the principles of compassion, justice and peace. Fear-mongering and hateful rhetoric only undermine treasured values at the heart of diverse faith traditions and our nation’s highest ideals.”
I wish more people of all faiths would stand up and denounce the divisive hate filled tactics employed on a daily basis by Gingrich, Palin, and Fox News. Gingrich and Palin are trying to create a wave of hate to ride to the presidency, and Fox News has found that peddling paranoia and hate is very, very profitable. Playing upon religious tensions is bad enough, but to intentionally create disunity for political gain, with no regard for the consequences to our nation is almost criminal.
The politics of division and hate are the tactics that political movements always resort to when they are out of ideas and they possess no other means to motivate and inspire their supporters. Palin and Gingrich’s willingness to take us down this path is a reflective of their own personal ambitions combined with a complete lack of interest in actually solving our nation’s problems. A plea to our lesser emotions is easy, and sometimes effective, but by doing so, both Palin and Gingrich are demonstrating why neither one of them will ever be capable of inspiring the birth of a better America.