A Reverend And A Rabbi Are Trying To Bring Faith Groups Together In New York City

And they had some thoughts about President Trump's recent executive order.

Reverend Amy Butler, head minister of Riverside Church, gave a sharp rebuke of the "religious liberty" executive order President Donald Trump signed Thursday. As reported by NBC News, the order reduces enforcement of a ban on tax-exempt organizations (like churches) from engaging in various political activities.

Butler joined Rabbi Mike Moskowitz on A Plus's live show A Grain Of Saul Friday, and shared her concerns over the latest executive order during a conversation about interfaith collaboration. Butler, whose church is one of the most recognized in the United States, said the order did not protect religious freedom despite being marketed that way.

"We want to be sure that religious organizations and state are separate, not for the protection of the state but for the protection of the religious organizations," Butler said. "We want to be able to speak to the issues that our faith calls us to address, issues of justice and peace and inclusion.  When the government and religious organizations start mixing, it opens the door for regulations to be placed on what we can say in religious gathering and that's scary."


Rabbi Moskowitz, who works with Uri L'Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice organization, took a similar stance. 

"We are meant to believe the voice of the divine truth as our faith and traditions inspire us to explore the divine will," Moskowitz said. "That should never be censored and should never be inhibited. So if we preach about what we think God wants from us to make the world better, there needs to be a way in which that has no limitation."

Moskowitz and Butler met through a 26th precinct police officer in New York, who told Butler he knew of a very cool rabbi who had an expertise in scotch. Rabbi Moskowitz's expertise, actually, is in kosher certification for alcohols like gin and vodka.

"I thought any clergy member in the neighborhood who cared about relationships with the police and also liked scotch would be a good friend of mine," Butler joked. "Then I found out he was an Orthodox rabbi, and I don't know much about Orthodox Judaism. So I took a shot and sent him an email and he came to my office."

Since meeting, the two are hoping to encourage an interfaith dialogue. Despite serious differences in the religious scriptures they adhere to, they've realized there are far more similarities than differences between the way they live their lives. Rabbi Moskowitz has even spoken at the Riverside Church as part of an interfaith service to encourage a more communal relationship between different religions in New York City.

And with all the division in the world, it's nice seeing two people from religious backgrounds making an effort to build a relationship.


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