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Call For Passage of Hate Crimes Law
September 28, 2000
The Interfaith Alliance News

WASHINGTON — This afternoon, interfaith religious leaders united at a rally in Lafayette Park located across from the White House to support Congressional passage of expanded federal hate crimes legislation. The event was also held in memory of Danny Lee Overstreet, a victim in an apparent hate crime last weekend in Roanoke, Virginia.

The rally and vigil were efforts of — a coalition including The Interfaith Alliance along with national civil rights, women’s, religious, and labor organizations, working to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Rabbi Jack Moline, board member of The Interfaith Alliance and rabbi of Agudas Achim Congregation of Northern Virginia, and Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and board member of The Interfaith Alliance Foundation, spoke with religious leaders at the rally.

Rabbi Moline expressed concern for the safety of all Americans and called for civil rights for every citizen. Below is an excerpt of his statement:

"That’s what government is supposed to do—protect its citizens . And the measure of integrity of government is how it protects the most vulnerable among its citizens. I am proud to tell you that standard is a gift from the tradition by which I live—the mandate from God to protect the stranger, the orphan, the poor is repeated constantly in the Torah and the Prophets.

"When a Republican votes for measures which protect freedom of speech for Democrats, it does not make him a Democrat. When an evangelical Christian votes for a Jewish candidate, it does not make him a Jew. In caucus or in church, we forge our ideas, but in the realm of public policy we make the choices which are right for our country. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act does not tell me what to think, what to believe or what to endorse. Instead, it insists that we the people of the United States will not stand idly by the blood of our neighbor, because what diminishes my neighbor diminishes me.

"The Interfaith Alliance honors me to speak in the name of people of faith today. We call on our Senators and Representatives to join us in our faithful support of civil rights for all Americans, but especially the most vulnerable among us. May you be inscribed for a good year, and may the Hate Crimes Prevention Act be inscribed with the signature of the President of the United States."

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