August 18, 2019 | 74° F

Respect religious practices of University students


The Interfaith Chaplains Association at Rutgers University (TICARU) serves as a forum for positive and constructive dialogue among its members in order to advance the cause of religious life within the University community. The aim is not to proselytize, but rather to embrace a process by which each group might come to understand and appreciate both the differences and common ground between and among faith communities.

TICARU provides an opportunity for ongoing communication among its members, serving as a clearinghouse for ideas and information. The religious life of University students is of paramount concern, and the members of this association seek to offer one another mutual support and to develop ways and means of fruitfully working together.

It has recently come to light that the New York Police Department had monitored Muslim Student Associations across the Northeast and also here at the University.

We, the undersigned members of TICARU, share an instinctive revulsion that police or other government agents might have engaged in unauthorized and unwarranted clandestine surveillance of our students and, for that matter, any other American citizens.

We recognize the hurt feelings of many Muslim students on our campus who may fear they are being singled out for no other reason than the religion they practice.

Our U.S. Constitution, the foundational and revered text of American society, guarantees freedom of assembly, religion and speech for all Americans. These are our essential liberties and must be guarded and protected at all costs.

We support responsible police investigations conducted in accordance with the law and for just cause. We also support the University administration in seeking a fuller explanation to this issue, to ensure that the constitutional rights and liberties of our students — as well as those of all Americans — are being upheld and are not being violated, especially here on our campus.

Brother Kenneth Apuzzo is the director of the Catholic Center. Rev. Gregory Bezilla is the chaplain of the Episcopal Campus Ministry. Imam Moutaz Charaf is the chaplain of the Center for Islamic Life. Rev. Barbara Heck is the director of the Protestant Campus Ministries. Rev. Ellen Little is the chaplain of the Wesley Fellowship. Rabbi Esther Reed is the senior associate director of Rutgers Hillel. Rabbi Heath Watenmaker is the reform outreach rabbi of Rutgers Hillel. Rabbi Akiva Weiss and Nataly Weiss are the Orthodox Union Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus educators of Rutgers Hillel.

Open letter from TICARU

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