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A wake-up call went out on Monday, sounded by a less-than-usual suspect: our governor, Chris Christie.
The Washington Post editorial board (generally not known for being the most progressive opinion page) gave him a shout-out today, citing him as the sole Republican to speak out for the sane position on religious freedom:
And Republican leaders – and we use that term loosely – have been almost universally eager to exploit the issue for political purposes. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie objected to both sides using the issue “as a political football,” but he is the rare exception.
Christie, who’s become a conservative icon, took a vocal stand against the xenophobia and mob mentality driving the opposition to the Park51 Muslim community center in Manhattan. More than that, he took a stand for one of our most fundamental founding rights.
In the words of our governor:
We cannot paint all of Islam with that brush. We have to bring people together.
You made New Jersey proud Monday, Governor.
Governor Christie chose to speak out, taking one for the team to remind us all what too many Americans too often forget: religious freedom doesn’t belong to one faith – it belongs to everyone. No religion can claim a monopoly on the Constitution, and no race or ideology can claim exclusive access to the core values at the heart of America.
New Jersey witnessed the collapse of the towers from just across the Hudson. The Garden State grieved for the lives that were so senselessly lost, and we prayed for the commuters who would never make it home from the World Trade Center Path Station.
A cadre of fanatics sought to undermine America. They do not deserve the power to watch us undermine American values. Millions of Muslim Americans – whose religion claims as wide a range of members as every other – should not suffer for an attack that violated the country they love, too.
So we of the ACLU-NJ – as well as (we hope) everyone who believes in the First Amendment – thank you, Governor Christie, for speaking up Monday for religious freedom, for the Constitution, and for New Jersey.
Allison Peltzman works as communications specialist for ACLU-NJ, but this is what she believes no matter what her job is.