Washington (Jun. 18)
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism was rededicated here this week at ceremonies marked by a warning that “the climate of mutual tolerance and pluralism in America is being polluted by an ominous and potent campaign of religious absolutism.”
Albert Vorspan of New York, director of the Commission on Social Action of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), charged that “a fever of religious radicalism now sweeps America, its power augmented by a vast electronic pulpit and mailing list which yield a cornucopia of political funds to go with a hit-list of terrifying political power.”
The Religious Action Center closed for six months for renovations, is named for the late Emily and Kivie Kaplan — he was president of the NAACP and a leader of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. The building was officially reopened as headquarters for the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights as well as other national and local Jewish and civic organizations.
Vorspan, addressing the 100 members of the national board of trustees of the UAHC and Washington area religious and civic leaders attending the ceremonies, warned that “The constellation of religious absolutists now threaten to make abortion in any form an act of murder; to banish sex eduction; to run roughshod over First Amendment guarantees of church-state separation; to resolve by majority vote of Congress the mystery of when life begins; to strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction over such issues as prayer, busing and abortions.
“In short, there is a zealous crusade to redefine America in the image of a narrow and sectarian view which is obnoxious to most Americans, including substantial segments of evangelical and fundamental Christians whose faith has been savaged by religio-political demagogues and manipulators,” he said.
Commenting on the support given to Israel by Jerry Falwell, head of the Moral Majority, Vorspan said: “If the Rev. Falwell opposes the Reagan proposal to sell AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia, let us welcome his support of our position, but let us not sell our Jewish souls and integrity by trading our cherished social ideals for a few words of pro-Israel support which are extended for their own Christological reasons.”