| August 28, 2000
The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Lieberman:
We are writing to express concern about
your statements yesterday to the congregation of Detroit's Fellowship
Chapel which, according to various news accounts, included extensive
reflections on religious values and expressions of faith.
feel comfortable explaining their religious convictions to voters.
At the same time, however, the Anti-Defamation League believes there
is a point at which an emphasis on religion in a political campaign
becomes inappropriate and even unsettling in a religiously diverse
society such as ours.
Thus, in particular, we were troubled
by your suggestion that, "As a people we need to reaffirm our
faith and renew the dedication of our nation and ourselves to God
and God's purpose" and your argument not to indulge the supposition
"that morality can be maintained without religion." To
even suggest that one cannot be a moral person without being a religious
person is an affront to many highly ethical citizens.
Moreover, language such as this risks
alienating the American people. We feel very strongly, and we hope
you would agree, that appealing along religious lines, or belief
in God, is contrary to the American ideal. The First Amendment requires
that government neither support one religion over another nor the
religious over the non-religious. The United States is made up of
many different types of people from different backgrounds and different
faiths -- including individuals who do not believe in any god --
and none of our citizens, including atheistic Americans, should
be made to feel outside of the electoral or political process.
Although you cautioned "those
who may neither believe nor observe ... that we share with them
the core values of America, that our faith is not inconsistent with
their freedom, and that our mission is not one of intolerance but
one of love," your comments still may serve to unsettle many
Americans. Americans should not be made to feel inferior, or left
out of the process, because they are in a religious minority.
As this campaign unfolds, we urge you
to keep in mind that public profession of religious beliefs should
not be an elemental part of this or any other political campaign.
|Howard P. Berkowitz
|Abraham H. Foxman