After reading the impassioned "A call for nonviolent disobedience" (Letters, Aug. 25, Gazette) by state Rep. Paul Wesselhöft, R-Moore, I want to send a statement from the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma Foundation concerning the New York events that have led to national furor.
Since 9/11, many Americans have stereotyped and treated Muslims with suspicion, fear and hatred. Nearly 10 years later, there are stories of serious religious intolerance toward Muslims in our nation. Today, there are protests against mosques in Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Southern California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Illinois. Need we be reminded that religious intolerance toward any religious group in America is in violation of the core principles of our Constitution?
As the world's most pluralistic religious nation, we have reason for pride and celebration! Why? Because those who wrote and ratified the Constitution had a vision where religious diversity was welcomed and freedom to practice your religion was guaranteed. Clearly, making any religious group a target for discrimination is a violation of the Constitution.
Yet, there are strong and deliberate attempts to polarize and politicize the prejudice against Muslims in an election year. We must stand firm in protecting the religious freedom in America that protects minority groups from the whims and whip of the majority. Regardless of what "the polls" may say, the polls do not replace the Constitution! All elected leaders are sworn to uphold the Constitution, not to be puppets of "the polls."
If extremist Muslims threaten peace in our world, what's the best response we can make? The best response is: "Let's encourage and support Muslim moderates "¦ right here "¦ in America!" Our hope is lodged in the protest and reformation power of these moderates in the Islamic world. Instead of "lumping them together" with the extremists, we need to be endorsing and encouraging them. It's in the self-interest of all Americans. Let's not allow the loud voices of religious intolerance within our population to be unchallenged. Let's be true to our own principles of religious freedom!
Hamilton is president of the Interfaith Alliance Foundation of Oklahoma.