Days before his planned appearance with far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a multi-faith coalition of local religious and community leaders has a message for Pa. GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano.
He’s “bringing the wrong message to the wrong place,” said Jewish community leader Meryl Ainsman in a Wednesday press conference.
DeSantis is scheduled to campaign in Downtown Pittsburgh this Friday on behalf of Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, himself a far-right state-level politician.
The press conference was organized by Pittsburgh faith leaders to “condemn any and all attempts by DeSantis and Mastriano to restrict individuality and religious freedom, and to remind them and the rest of the world that there is no place for hate in Pittsburgh, Pa.,” according to a release.
“Through their actions and relationships, DeSantis and Mastriano have both shown an intolerance toward religious freedom, diversity, and democracy,” reads the release.
Speakers criticized DeSantis and Mastriano’s Christian nationalism, citing a recent comment by Mastriano that the separation of church and state is a myth. Reverend Richard Freeman of the Resurrection Baptist Church of Braddock called Christian nationalism an “affront” to his values and “inconsistent with the Gospel.”
Speakers at the press conference frequently referred to the 2018 mass shooting at Tree of Life—Or L’Simcha Congregation as a reason to oppose Mastriano and DeSantis.
“Since the deadliest antisemitic act in American history took place in the City of Bridges, clergy members and activists have worked to unify the city and ensure that it remains stronger than hate," reads the release. "Any embrace of political extremism poses a threat to that common goal and creates space for the same dangerous bigotry that led to the events at Tree of Life Synagogue."
Mastriano and DeSantis’ ideology is “a direct threat to the American Islamic community,” said Brother Mizanoor Biswas of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.
“I can see the way some of us left our own country because it took a turn into nationalism or other forms of hate, and that’s why we came here, to escape this persecution,” he said. “The idea that one religion is superior to another should be excluded from Pennsylvania.”