October 22, 2009

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A group of prominent religious leaders called for an end to the use of “inappropriate Nazi and Holocaust references” in public debate.

In an open letter to religious leaders, politicians, pundits and the public, the group wrote that it has seen “an alarming number of public figures use the Nazis and the Holocaust as metaphors in public debate on issues critical to this country,” listing a number of recent examples.

“The Nazi regime that perpetrated this mass genocide was one of the most horrific in world history,” says the letter, organized by the Interfaith Alliance and signed by Jewish, Christian and Muslim clergy and faith leaders. “There is no place in civil debate for the use of these types of metaphors. Perpetrators of such language harm rather than help both the integrity of the democratic process and the credibility of religious commentary.”

The letter also asks that those involved in public debate to generally “help restore civility to our national dialogue.”

Among the 15 signatories are Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Rabbi Jack Moline of Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Va.; Rabbi David Gelfand of Temple Israel of the City of New York; Imam Mahdi Bray of the Muslim American Society Freedom; and Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America.

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