Monday, December 15, 2008

The struggle goes on

With the election of a new President, there is much optimism among many of us that the rather too cozy relationship between certain religious and religio-political groups and the White House may give way to a more even handed and constitutionally viable approach to both the relationship between the state and the church and to the vast diversity of religions and religious expression that is so much a part of the American landscape. There is much to be optimistic about, as President-elect Obama's own experience as a Christian son of a Muslim father and as a leader who has reached out to religious minorities in his campaign has indicated.In fact, with the election of Barack Obama, many folks see a repudiation of the religious right, particularly in the person of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and maybe even an end to their power in US politics.

That would be a mistake. History has shown that fundamentalism and political extremism, the seed beds for the religious right in this country, are extremely tenacious movements that give voice to deep-seated fears and frustrations that, if anything, grow stronger in the kinds of uncertain economic times that we are experiencing. President-elect Obama, no matter how committed to change, is not the biblical Messiah, he is the leader of a democracy in which all voices, including those that advocate positions contrary to those on which that democracy are based, have the right to be aired and respected. Indeed, that is what the Interfaith Alliance is all about- protecting religious and civil liberties for those whose views we disagree with, even abhor as well as for those who views we applaud.

What all that seems to mean for us, is our work is far from over. There is much yet to be done. And while we congratulate President-elect for his hard won and historic victory and look forward with hope to an administration with a more open ear to our concerns than the one it replaces, we reocgnize that our work is not over, it has just begun. We need all Americans, people of faith and people of no-faith, with us, if we are to help to build a nation in which religious and civil liberty is not just an aspiration, but a reality for all. Please join us.