6:08 PM EDT

Nydia M. Velázquez, D-NY 12th

Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.

6:08 PM EDT

Howard L. Berman, D-CA 28th

Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume but no longer than 3 minutes as I need an arbitrary restraint.

I want to begin first by thanking both the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Wamp) and the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Ellison) for this resolution and for coming to the committee with a sense of the importance of this resolution and for the broader sentiment this resolution reflects, which is a broad and sincere commitment to global interfaith dialogue. I think it's a brilliant proposal.

I am pleased to have before us this resolution that supports such interfaith dialogue. I know its authors were inspired by a dialogue that 138 Muslim scholars, from all major sects of Islam, initiated in a letter to the Pope and to other Christian leaders. The letter emphasizes the importance of religious tolerance and of mutual respect between Christians and Muslims. In fact, the Pope graciously responded to this letter by agreeing to host a summit of [Page: H8656]


and Muslim leaders that is scheduled for this November.

This initiative reflects the same spirit as that of several other major interfaith initiatives meant to strengthen relations among the Abrahamic faiths, such as the 2005 Amman Initiative of King Abdullah II of Jordan and the 1998 initiative launched by the now Israeli President Shimon Peres, by King Juan Carlos I of Spain and by the late King Hassan II of Morocco.

Ever since Samuel Huntington coined the phrase, much is said in our public discourse about a ``clash of civilizations'' and about how to avoid it, but we really have to shoot higher than that. We have to aim to seek a comedy of civilizations. To do so, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and other religious leaders must emphasize the core similarities of their faiths and values.

This resolution encourages understanding and partnership among Christians, Muslims and Jews. Much of the cultural heritage of the West and the Middle East can be ascribed to these three Abrahamic religions, but of course interfaith dialogue doesn't need to and should not stop there. We should support and encourage the sentiments expressed in this resolution in favor of dialogue, not only among Abrahamic religions but among all religions.

While there is much work still to be done to reach our goals, I again want to thank Mr. Ellison and Mr. Wamp for this resolution that points the way towards developing societies, in the words of the resolution, based on peace, reconciliation and on a commitment to tolerance.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

6:11 PM EDT

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL 18th

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise today in support of House Concurrent Resolution 374, which expresses the House's backing for interfaith dialogue between Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders.

Mr. Speaker, at a time when violent extremists are misusing Islam in order to encourage others to commit mass murder and to do away with liberty, it is more important than ever for true moderates from all faiths to come together and to unequivocally repudiate hate and violence and to embrace peace, tolerance and religious freedom for all.

As true moderates do come together for this most noble of purpose, they should know that America stands with them in their quest.

Mr. Speaker, while this important resolution deals with interfaith dialogue involving adherence to Christianity, to Judaism and to Islam, I would like to note that interfaith dialogue and religious freedom should encompass all faiths.

Finally, I would like to thank my distinguished colleague and dear friend, Mr. Wamp of Tennessee, for introducing this important resolution and for presenting it before us today.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

6:13 PM EDT

Howard L. Berman, D-CA 28th

Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 4 minutes to a cosponsor of the resolution, to a gentleman who brought it to my attention some months ago. He is the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Ellison).

6:13 PM EDT

Keith Ellison, D-MN 5th

Mr. ELLISON. Mr. Speaker, I know that it's protocol and important to thank the Chair of the committee and the ranking member, but today, I have to convey my very sincere and heartfelt thanks to Chairman Berman and to Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Of course, I have to also thank my dear friend Zach Wamp, who came to me many months ago and proposed that we offer this resolution together.

I believe this is an historic day, and I am deeply humbled. Other than the day that I had to come here before the House to talk about the collapse of our bridge in Minneapolis, I feel the most sense of emotion and of weight and of gravity today.

I also want to point out that this resolution that comes to the floor today takes place during a very special time for people of the Muslim faith, which is the month of Ramadan--a month of reflection, of fasting and, based on this resolution's coming to the floor, of good things as well.

The passion that my colleague Mr. Wamp and I share for this resolution may strike some Members as unusual, but it shouldn't. Indeed, as Members of Congress on different sides of the political aisle, Mr. Wamp and I may not always agree on policy, but we are two men who have come together as people of faith to highlight what we both believe are historic interfaith developments within the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.

In late 2007, 138 Muslim scholars from every sect of Islam, representing communities of faith in countries both friendly and hostile to the United States, sent a letter to Christian leaders everywhere, declaring common ground between our faiths and seeking dialogue among leaders of two traditions that represent nearly half the world's population.

[Time: 18:15]

Responding to that letter, some 300 Christian leaders, including many leaders in the United States, declared in November 2007 their appreciation and support for this historic outreach. In March 2008 the Vatican announced that the Pope had invited these scholars to a first-ever summit, which will meet in Rome in November 2008.

I believe the mutual respect by all participants in this effort holds tremendous transformative power, not only for relations between Christians and Muslims, but also for Islam's entire relationship with the West.

I believe it is in the best interests of the United States to support and encourage those efforts so that the world knows that our Nation stands with those people who reject extremism and violence and hate and embrace reconciliation.

Let me read from the resolution: ``It is the sense of Congress ..... that the United States encourages the many people of faith around the world who reject terrorism, radicalism, and extremism to join these and similar efforts to build a common bond based on peace, reconciliation and a commitment to tolerance ..... Furthermore, the United States appreciates those voices around the world who condemn terrorism, intolerance, genocide and ethnic and religious hatred, and instead commit themselves

to global peace anchored in respect and understanding among the adherents of the three Abrahamic faiths,'' Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Today, our world knows too many people who are divided, rather than healed, by faith. I speak for myself, but I am sure most Members of the House would agree that our religious faith is a great source of strength and has the transformative effect of bringing people together, not pushing them apart.

I believe this resolution will serve to send a strong message to people everywhere that Members of the House stand in solidarity with members of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith as they confront ancient and modern divisions so that peace may prevail. It is brought up during a particularly special month for me.

I urge my colleagues to support this truly bipartisan resolution.

6:17 PM EDT

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL 18th

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I would like to yield such time as he may consume to the author of this resolution, my good friend from Tennessee (Mr. Wamp).