(Washington, D.C.) The president of The Interfaith Alliance expressed dismay today at the news of an unwarranted verbal attack upon a respected Green Bay, Wisconsin rabbi who is co-president of the organization's Northeast Wisconsin group. On Sunday, March 15th Rabbi Sidney Vineburg, co-president of the Northeast Wisconsin Interfaith Alliance, was verbally attacked by Christian Family Association (CFA) Executive Director Dean Young at a restaurant in Green Bay, Wisconsin where Rabbi Vineburg was invited by local members of the CFA to meet with Alabama Judge Roy Moore.
Judge Moore, the Alabama State Circuit Court Judge from Etowah County who gained national attention when he refused to remove a plaque of the Ten Commandments from his court room and insisted on opening his court with clergy-led Christian prayers, was invited to Green Bay by the CFA. The Christian Family Association is trying to build support for their campaign to have a marble statue of the Ten Commandments placed in front of the local courthouse.
When Rabbi Vineburg arrived at the restaurant, Young confronted him, launching into a vitriolic diatribe denouncing Vineburg as "a leader of the forces of darkness" while describing himself as the "forces of light" and then demanding that Rabbi Vineburg leave the restaurant. "I was shocked and dismayed by the attack since I have a good relationship with the local members of CFA and particularly since they invited me to have lunch with Judge Moore," said Rabbi Vineburg. " I was even more surprised because it came from a person who claims to be a leader of religious people."
Calling for a renewed commitment to civility in our public debate, Reverend Dr. J. Philip Wogaman, President of The Interfaith Alliance called upon Young to refrain from demonizing members of the clergy and other people of faith who disagree with his positions on public policy matters. "This type of uncivil behavior represents a mind set that is not only inappropriate for people of faith who honestly disagree, but is simply un-American," said Wogaman. "Attacks like this poison our public debate and divide communities. Rabbi Vineburg sought an open and honest dialogue with Judge Moore but was greeted with intolerance. Of course Rabbi Vineburg supports the Ten Commandments and to prayer; but this is not the issue. This is about the imposition of religious images and symbols on those who do not share them, but who are our fellow citizens."
"The aim of the Northeast Wisconsin Interfaith Alliance is to promote the healing and constructive force that people of faith can have in the public debate by drawing upon our shared religious principles," said Rabbi Vineburg. "We believe that our diversity is what makes us a great nation and we will redouble our efforts to work toward those goals in light of this incident."
Established in 1994, The Interfaith Alliance is a national, non-partisan grassroots organization with local Alliances in over 100 communities in 36 states and a national membership drawn from 50 different faith communities. TIA is building a mainstream, faith-based movement that seeks to unite people of faith to promote the positive and healing role of religion in the civic debate.
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