Letter: Applaud Gov’t Defense Of Religious Freedom

Posted on March 9, 2007 In News

Applaud Gov’t Defense Of Religious Freedom
Fri. Mar 09, 2007
Letter, The Jewish Daily Forward

A March 2 article on the recent speech by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention was a disservice to the excellent work the Justice Department is doing in the defense of religious freedom (“Speech by Attorney General Sparks Church-State Furor“).

The important news coming out of Gonzales’s speech was the unveiling of a 40-page report on the Justice Department’s efforts over the past six years to proactively combat religious discrimination in this country in an unprecedented manner, as well as the launching of a new “First Freedom” initiative and Web site to further such efforts. Yet the Forward chose to highlight the fact that some organizations in the Christian and Jewish communities – though not all in those communities – were upset that the attorney general delivered his speech before a conservative Christian audience.

The Forward not only failed to mention that some in our community, including the Orthodox Union, lauded the address and didn’t much mind the venue, but also failed to note that American Arab and Muslim groups were very pleased that the attorney general spoke of their communities’ rights specifically before an Evangelical Christian crowd.

One must wonder where the logic of the critics will take us in the Jewish community; what will we say if the secretary of state delivers an address to a Jewish organizational meeting on the topic of Middle East diplomacy? Is that inappropriate because she did not stand before a jointly Jewish and Arab audience?

The venue and audience before which a national policymaker makes a speech is noteworthy, but hardly the whole story.

Nathan Diament
Director of Public Policy
Orthodox Union
Washington, D.C.