Prominent rabbi Jack Moline challenges the integrity of religious freedom laws

By Alveena Siddiqi, News Reporter

Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the National Interfaith Alliance, argued his stance against the use of religious freedom to restrict the legal rights of same-sex couples during his lecture, “Praying With My Legs,” in Founders Lounge on Tuesday, Oct. 26. 

During the post-lecture question and answer session, Moline responded to an audience question about his stance on a recent Supreme Court case between same-sex couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig and Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who refused to bake their wedding cake. The case has been treated as a conflict between state and national laws forbidding discrimination against same-sex couples and the Constitution’s protections of religious freedom and freedom of expression. 

“My right to swing my fists in any direction ends where your nose begins,” Moline responded. “The protection of individual faith and freedom extends only to the point where it does not disable the rights of somebody else with equally sincerely held beliefs.” He also revealed that he recently signed two amicus curiae briefs on behalf of Interfaith Alliance in support of the couple. 

Moline, who was this year’s speaker for EC’s annual Abraham Joshua Heschel lecture – part of the college’s religious lecture series — also emphasized the importance of maintaining a government without a specific religious alignment in ensuring the equality of religious minorities. 

“There is no religious test for leadership. There is no religion that is established or disestablished,” he said. “There is no particular belief that is official to make anyone who holds an ‘unofficial’ belief feel less than or less protected by freedom and law.”

Moline referred to the National Mall in Washington D.C. as a physical representation of the importance of America’s freedom of religion and belief. 

 “You will find no representation of religion on the Mall, and that is because the United States, perhaps the most religiously conscious nation in history, promotes the notion that every citizen, every visitor, brings his or her own faith or philosophy to that wide open space between independence and law, and just as important, every citizen, every visitor carries those beliefs away with them when they leave,” he said. 

“If Congress were to offer to erect, on the Mall, a monument to Interfaith Alliance for its devotion to protecting your faith and your freedom, I would very politely turn them down.”