Monday, April 2, 2007

Religious and Civil Liberties and the War in Iraq

As we go into the fifth year of our military intervention in Iraq, it has become increasingly impossible to ignore its implications not only in terms of our nation's relationships with other countries, but in terms of its implications for religious liberties here at home. Whether it is the virtual gutting of our constitutional rights to due process and equality before the law under the USA Patriot Act, the vilification and persecution of Muslims in America under the Special Registration provisions of the immigration codes, the stifling of dissent as "unpatriotic", the authorization of detentions without charge or trial at Guantanamo or the trumpeting of the United States as a "Christian nation," and the breakdown of the separation of church and state, it is clear that this war is a cancer that has metastasized into all aspects of our national life and body politic.

The circumstances of war, particularly a "war on terror" that has been described by the President of the United States in starkly apocalyptic and religious terms, lends itself to the kinds of abuses of civil and religious liberty that have become all too common in the past few years. It is not a surprise, then, when military commanders openly speak of the war in Iraq as a battle between "our god and their god," or that we are also seeing scandals related to the repression of minority religious faiths in our service academies as well as in our armed forces, or that Muslim American high school students are detained by the federal government for writing school essays critical of US policy in Iraq, or that efforts to undermine the separation of church and state,( a separation that has helped this country to become not only the freest, but the most vitally religious nation in the western world) are being undertaken in many cases with the sympathy, if not the full support of politicians and government officials.

That is why the Interfaith Alliance of Long Island is taking a strong stance for peace in Iraq and why we hope that you will join with us and our sisters and brothers of faith and conscience in advocating a withdrawal of US forces even as we continue to advocate for religious and civil liberties here at home. Please join us.