Common Cause and other groups, individuals, condemn cynical attempts to exploit fear over Islamic center in lower Manhattan

Tolerance of unpopular ideas and the people who espouse them is a fundamental American value, one regrettably threatened by attempts to block the creation of an Islamic community center and mosque in lower Manhattan, Common Cause and other organizations and individuals argue in a statement released today.

“The politicians and commentators leading the fight against the center are stoking a mob mentality that could scarcely be more un-American; they seek to make enemies out of their fellow countrymen,” the statement asserts.

“The statement seeks to reaffirm America’s national commitment to freedom of thought and expression,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. “We believe adherence to those values is an important weapon in the fight against terrorism here and around the world.”

Posted today on Common Cause’s web site, (, the statement already has been co-signed by an array of political, civic and religious leaders and other concerned Americans. Additional signatures are welcome and will be posted as they’re received.

The signers include:

Bob Edgar, President, Common Cause

Tom Andrews, Win Without War

Rev. Jonathan Barton, General Minister, Virginia Council of Churches

Heather Booth

Steve Copley

Becca Doten, Member, Democratic National Committee

Anne Ewing

Maureen Fiedler, SL, Host of Interfaith Voices on public radio

Joann Fukumoto

Curtis Gans, Director, American University Center for the Study of the American Electorate, Center for Democracy and Election Management

Ted Glick

Jack Gould, Issues Chair, Common Cause Nebraska

Scott Harshbarger, Senior Counsel to the Firm, Proskauer

Laurie Hauber

Charles C. Haynes, Director, Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum (title listed for identification purposes only)

Stephen Heintz, President, Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Margel Lindzey Highet

Mark C. Johnson, Ph.D., Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation

James R. Jones

Susan Liss, Brennan Center for Justice

Amin Mahmoud, The Alliance of Egyptian Americans

Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action

Donald E. Messer, President Emeritus, Iliff School of Theology

Don Mosley

Anne Murphy

Sara R. Nichols

Richard L. Ottinger, Dean Emeritus, Pace Law School

Robert M. Pennoyer

John Piper

Dr. David W. Randle, President & CEO, UCC WHALE Center

Pat Schroeder

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Arkansas Interfaith Alliance

Defending Dissent Foundation

The Shalom Center