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New Jersey's Governor Becomes the Voice of Reason

Allison Peltzman,
ACLU of New Jersey
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August 20, 2010

A wake-up call went out on Monday, sounded by a less-than-usual suspect: New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie.

The Washington Post editorial board gave him a shout-out Thursday, citing him as the sole Republican to speak out for the sane position on religious freedom:

“…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.”

Gov. Christie took a vocal stand against the xenophobia and mob mentality driving much of 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, Gov. Christie.

Gov. 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 on 9/11. We cannot allow them to serve as the justification for Americans to undermine our 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 of New Jersey — as well as (we hope) everyone who believes in the First Amendment — thank you, Gov. Christie, for speaking up Monday for religious freedom, for the Constitution, and for New Jersey.