Essdras M. Suarez/Globe Staff
Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim leaders, adorned in the vestments of their respective faiths, stood shoulder to shoulder on the steps of a Roxbury mosque today and strongly condemned Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill’s remarks blasting Governor Deval Patrick’s attendance last weekend at a forum at the mosque.
The gathering included leaders from the Archdiocese of Boston, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, the Massachusetts Council of Churches, some of Boston’s most prominent black churches, and several Jewish temples.
State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill
One by one, they strode to a microphone in front of an audience of several hundred members of the mosque and said they were incensed that Cahill had equated Patrick’s meeting with the Muslim community and support for some of their requests to "playing politics with terrorism."
“Those running for the gubernatorial seat, those at the state House, and anybody else that might think about it: Not in Massachusetts! No bigotry!” the Rev. Hurmon Hamilton of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church declared to applause. “We will stand with one another and protect one another and fight for one another.”
In a statement Thursday, the independent candidate accused the Democratic governor of "pandering to special interest groups" and called for Patrick to urge leaders of the Muslim community to "finally police" the "rogue elements" responsible for terrorism.
Noting the recent arrests in Watertown in connection with the failed Times Square bombing, Cahill said, "The overwhelming majority of Muslim-Americans are peaceable people who love this land, but the bottom line is, someone in Boston knew about this before it happened and didn't speak up. That has to change."
Patrick's campaign said today that Cahill was engaging in "fear-mongering" when he criticized Patrick's attendance at the forum with the Muslim community.
Patrick "has been and will remain committed to meeting with all of the Commonwealth's residents, regardless of religion, who care deeply about the real issues that matter in people's lives, like jobs, better schools, affordable health care and a safe and healthy environment," the campaign said in a statement.
"That is what people need from their governor, and why the residents of Massachusetts will overwhelmingly reject the fear-mongering and negative political tactics of Tim Cahill," the statement said.
Cahill said today that he stood by his remarks. “My criticism was not geared toward Muslim Americans or any religion,” he said in a telephone interview. “My criticisms were geared toward and directed officially at the governor.”
Patrick told more than 1,100 Muslims at a Roxbury mosque on Saturday that he knew many had encountered discrimination and racial profiling since Sept. 11 and that he would do everything in his power to combat those problems, the Globe reported Sunday.
This afternoon in Roxbury, the Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, secretary for health care and social services in the Archdiocese of Boston, reminded the audience that it was a Catholic, John F. Kennedy, who once faced doubts about his patriotism when he ran for the presidency.
He said that “when any religion is mischaracterized or misinterpreted, it is necessary to step forward and correct the misrepresentation.”
“We are here to say that every religion and religious community is too valuable to be instrumentalized by anyone,” Hehir said. “It is necessary for people in leadership, political, and religious and otherwise, to protect the good name of religion, and of every single religious community that sincerely participates in the life of this county.”
Rabbi Eric Gurvis of Temple Shalom in Newton said members of the mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston, were among the first to offer help when his temple was defaced with a swastika several months ago.
He said Cahill’s “act of hatred and bigotry, by someone who would presume to to be the leader of this Commonwealth... is an even greater affront,” because while his temple was vandalized at night, Cahill made his remarks “in broad, open daylight.”
"We are all here today today to stand as witnesses, in the light of the day, in the sunshine, to say that this cannot continue," Gurvis said.
Others who attended included the Rev. Jeffrey Brown, executive director of Boston TenPoint Coalition, the Rev. Ray Hammond of the Bethel AME Church in Jamaica Plain, and Jill Stein, the Green-Rainbow candidate for governor.
Also today, a group of religious leaders outraged by his comments met with Cahill. The meeting with 25 members of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization took place at Roxbury Presbyterian Church, where Hamilton is pastor.
Cahill has worked with GBIO in the past, helping it push banks to comply with state usury laws and make improvements in the Dearborn Middle School in Roxbury.
Earlier today, Hamilton declined to discuss the meeting, but said the attendees, who included Jews, Christians and Muslims, still “want to address this in the strongest possible way.''
Patrick is also being challenged by Republican Charlie Baker and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Jill Stein.
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