But what we know – what we have seen – is that America can change. You have shown what history teaches us – that in defining moments like this, the change we need is not from Washington. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflicts and religious wars.
He’s still talking to our Catholic friends – who support a coherent life ethic that goes beyond abortion – one that includes respect for life and dignity in Iraq, in poor neighborhoods, in African villages or even in the arm of death. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has been a reference point for Islamic learning and, for over a century, the University of Cairo has been a source of advancement for Egypt.
He is a man who has served his country as an American marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the country’s best universities and seminars, and for over thirty years has led a church serving the community doing God’s work here on Earth – hosting the homeless, offering assistance to the needy, providing day care services, scholarships and penitentiary ministries, and reaching HIV / AIDS patients. I can assure you that it is not. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investment in the health, well-being and education of black, brown and white children will ultimately help the whole of America prosper. Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name of Barack Hussein Obama could be elected president. We do not look for military bases there. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based on the persuasion of the mind, heart and soul.
But they feel, deep in their bones, that with only a slight change in priorities, we can make every child in America have a good dose of life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. This conflict is expensive and politically difficult. Threatening Israel with the destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is profoundly wrong, and only serves to evoke this painful memory in the minds of the Israelis, 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. This is why we welcome efforts such as the interreligious dialogue of the king of the Saudi Arabia Abdullah and the leadership of Turkey in the Alliance of Civilizations. Americans are ready to unite with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our peoples pursue a better life.
The UCC is still listening. Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name of Barack Hussein Obama could be elected president. That’s why there’s a mosque in every state of our union and over 1,200 mosques within our borders.
Thank you. And may the peace of God be upon you.