TRENTON, NJ -  Acting to educate and advocate against the proliferation of violent religious-backed attacks worldwide, Senators Ray Lesniak and Tom Kean, Jr. on Monday announced the formation of a coalition of interfaith leaders from across New Jersey to create “Faith Leaders Against Violence.”
The mission of Faith Leaders Against Violence (Faithleadersagainstviolence.org) is to join leaders from all faiths and denominations in one strong voice that delivers a simple message: religion must never be an excuse for violence. Through education, community based programming and demonstration, Faith Leaders Against Violence will leverage its access to members of all religions to promote a common voice against all forms of violence. 
 
“The recent attacks at Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish deli in Paris have brought to the forefront once again the abuse of religious beliefs by some humans to avenge their own personal resentments and desire for power in the name of God,” said Senator Lesniak.  “This powerful force, the human desire for revenge, control and power, needs to be met by a greater force, religious leaders from all denominations uniting to speak out against the use of violence in the name of religion, any religion.”
 

“Our coalition signifies the benevolent power of religion, spreading peace and good will,” said Senate Republican Leader Kean. “It shows that various faiths can and must unite to celebrate the common bonds that can unite diverse families, communities, states and nations. We are solidified across political party lines, geographic borders and belief structures to set a strong tone of peace, against persecution, hatred and violence by terrorists claiming to act in the name of God.”
 
 “In this environment, and at this time, genuine religious organizations must meet the challenge and stand against these false and ungodly organizations,” said Bishop Reginald Jackson, Pastor of St. Matthew AME Church and Executive Director of the Black Minister’s Council.  “We rejoice that we do not have to do it by ourselves, but join with faith partners in speaking up and standing against bigotry, hatred and violence in the name of religion.”
 
Lesniak and Kean were joined in their cause by the initial members of the coalition, most of whom have been long-standing advocates of civil rights, equality and non-violence including in their communities and statewide, including:
 
·         Bishop Reginald Jackson, Pastor, St. Matthew AME Church; Executive Director Black Minister’s Council
 
·         Jacob Toporek, Executive Director, N.J. State Association of Jewish Federations
·         Rabbi Avi Richler, Director of legislative affairs, Chabad in NJ
·         Imam W. Deen Shareef,  Masjid Waarrith Ud Deen, Irvington, NJ; Co-Founder, Executive Board Member at Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peace
·         Rev. Dr. LL DuBreuil, Pastor of Faith United Church of Christ
·         Rev. Bruce Davidson, Former (Retired) Director NJ Lutheran  Office of Governmental Ministry; Trustee, Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey
·         Dr. Joan Rivitz, Commissioner, New Jersey Civil Rights Commission
·         Rev. Roberta Arrowsmith, Pastor, Connecticut Farms Presbyterian Church
·         John Rosen, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee, NJ
·         Josh Pruzansky, Regional Director, Orthodox Union
·         Joan Diefenbach, Director of NJ Council of Churches
·         Patrick Brannigan, Executive Director, NJ Catholic Conference