Rev. Johnnie Moore | United Nations | New York City
September 14, 2023
AS a member of the clergy, I will begin my remarks by reading a powerful religious text:
“Protect your neighbor’s interests when he is absent…show respect. Help your neighbor when they are inflicted with injustice…never leave your neighbor alone with any calamity. Forgive your neighbor if he has done any wrong. In short, live with your neighbor a noble life.”
THOSE beautiful words demand tolerance, coexistence, and acceptance and a society that promotes those values. They reflect a fundamental piece of theology shared by all the children of Abraham: that every single human being is made in the image of God.
YET because of Iran’s perverse, theocratic leadership many people in the world would be utterly astonished to learn that those elegant, enlightened words were written 1000 years ago by one of the most revered figures among Shia Muslims.
IRAN’S citizens know more than any other that these mullahs in Tehran and Qom have HIJACKED religion.
THEIR rule does not comport with ancient Islam as much as it is a toxic brew of political ideologies that are only as old as the last century. The “Supreme Leader,” and his henchman – like his predecessor – do not worship God. They worship themselves. They worship their own power -- power they use to to steal, to kill, and to destroy.
Those words…to steal, to kill, and to destroy….have special meaning to Christians because they are the words that Jesus used in the Gospel of John to describe SATAN.
TODAY, we remember and honor the brave people of Iran who give their lives week in and out for justice …. Many whose names we will never know.
IN A JUST WORLD the people of Iran would be looking with hope and prayers toward the opening of the UN General Assembly.
INSTEAD a red carpet will be rolled out for Iran’s tormentors … for HER tormentors.
WHEN I served on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan government commission filled with Commissioners appointed by Democrats and Republicans, we agreed entirely --- not a small feat in modern America – that the Chief Justice of Iran’s Supreme Court should be sanctioned for the blood of thousands dripping from his hands. He was often referred to as “The Butcher of Tehran.”
Our advocacy succeeded at USCIRF, and the U.S. Government did sanction this immoral, profane man who routinely used religion to kill.
I think most Americans would be shocked to learn that this figure is now the President of Iran and in just a few days, literally across the street from where we are today, he will hold meetings in New York City.
One of those meetings is a so-called “interfaith meeting” of American religious leaders where they have had the audacity to invite the press.
The meeting should not be happening at all, but since it is, I HOPE AT LEAST ONE religious leader in that room will have the courage to speak the truth and to forcefully confront Iran’s president.
It all reminds me of another famous phrase from the SHIA tradition. When Husayn died at Karbala, partially in a fight against the politicization of his religion, he said, “can you see the truth is no longer practiced?”
The Iranian REGIME routinely defame God’s name, but the Iranian people and the world know better.
As the Jewish community celebrates Rosh Hoshana, a high holiday meant for the entire world, I’m reminded of a powerful saying in the Talmud,
“who is a wise person? It is one who sees the obvious.”
I’m not sure of the wisdom of the leaders who will be meeting in that General Assembly Hall over the next few days
BUT I have a message for the Iranian people: our world leaders may not be wise but the AMERICAN PEOPLE are wise and WE STAND WITH YOU.
We will pray for you the way we hope someone would be praying for us.
We will stand for you the way we hope someone would be standing for us.
We will advocate for you the way we hope someone would advocate for us.
We BELIEVE in you. We LOVE you. We HONOR you. We are INSPIRED by you.
And I have another to say to you -- THE IRANIAN PEOPLE -- we pray EVERY day that not one more of you has to suffer, to be imprisoned, or –God forbid – be killed.
BUT, if you have to pay that ultimate price, I will make you a promise: WE WILL REMEMBER YOU forever and we will tell future generations about your courage and sacrifice.
WOMEN. LIFE. FREEDOM.