Garrett flip-flops on place of religion

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Garrett flip-flops on place of religion

Aref Assaf

Herald News Op-Ed

If you talk about double standards and hypocrisy, you must include Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage.

In October a resolution was introduced and passed by the Congress recognizing the significance of the fasting month, Ramadan, to Muslims around the world and to American Muslims in particular. The resolution states: “Recognizing the commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and commending Muslims in the United States and throughout the world for their faith.”

The measure passed 376-0, with 42 members voting “present.” The symbolic resolution was a first in many ways. It was the first time a major religious holiday was so recognized by Congress and it was significant that Islam was the first religion to be so honored.

However, of the 42 who took issue with the resolution and signaled their displeasure by voting ‘present’ was Garrett, who, as quoted in, was “troubled” by the Ramadan resolution. “There were a number of members who, as we call it down here, ‘stayed off’ that vote and did not support it because I think that they looked at it as something that Congress really should not be doing, should not be picking one faith out and commending that faith.”

As if by a twist of fate, Congress just passed a similar resolution, H.R. 487, acknowledging the importance of Christmas for Christians and Christianity. The votes speak for themselves: For 372; against 9; present: 10; no vote: 40.

I was glad Congress passed the Christmas resolution. Religious holidays are a lot more than greeting cards and exchanging of gifts. They are spiritual milestones, a reminder of our deeply felt attachment to our faiths and our religious heritage. My happiness soon dissipated when I learned that Garrett voted for the resolution. Apparently, he has no problem with Congress “picking one faith out and commending that faith.”

I have no problem with recognizing Christmas and its immense significance for practicing Christians. I am, however, disheartened by the apparent dichotomy and hypocrisy in our congressmen’s ethical foundation.

People in the 5th District of New Jersey should be equally incensed by Garrett’s double standard ethos.

Aref Assaf, Ph.D., president, American Arab Forum, Paterson

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