But what we know – what we have seen – is that America can change. You have shown what history teaches us – that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn’t come from Washington. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars.
He’s still speaking to our Catholic friends – who are holding up a consistent ethic of life that goes beyond abortion – one that includes a respect for life and dignity whether it’s in Iraq, in poor neighborhoods, in African villages or even on death row. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement.
He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS. I can assure you it is not. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper. Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. We seek no military bases there. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul.
But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress. That is why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah’s Interfaith dialogue and Turkey’s leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.
The UCC is still listening. Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders.
Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.