The Rizzo for Governor Campaign announced the formation of the Faith Leaders Advisory Council, comprised of religious leaders of different faiths and religious denominations. The Council will meet regularly to address first amendment issues in New Jersey, as religious freedom has repeatedly been a topic of contention during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several religious institutions across New Jersey have sued Governor Murphy, after the governor ordered their doors shuttered as part of his administration’s attempt to control the virus.

“This is not about politics.  This is about our rights as Americans to practice our religion, regardless of what that religion may be.  If not practiced, religion is just a word – but the government has repeatedly stood in the way for every person here to actively practice our chosen religion.

During the past year, Phil Murphy deemed liquor stores and landscaping as essential, yet all houses of worship were ordered closed for business.  We can’t go back, but we can work together to ensure no governor gets to arbitrarily decide that Church or synagogue doors are to be bolted shut.  Jack Cittiarelli, who has displayed an alarming amount of ignorance for the entire religious community in New Jersey, would be more of the same ill-advised failed leadership that we saw from Phil Murphy” said Pastor Dominick Cuozzo, who will serve as Chair of the Council.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… Those were powerful words then, and they’re powerful, relevant, words now.  Unlike Phil Murphy, who said “…the bill of rights is above my paygrade”, I think the Bill of Rights are important. So much so, that as a Pastor, I never closed our church, and I never instituted mandates of any kind, including masks, social distancing, or facility capacity. The faith community needs to be empowered by a governor who respects the foundation of religious liberty in America. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to hear from these leaders firsthand; to learn from Phil Murphy’s egregious mistakes; and to ongoing dialogue with the New Jersey Faith Leaders Advisory Council to protect every New Jerseyan’s first amendment rights” said Philip Rizzo.

Faith Leaders Advisory Council:

Chair: Dominick Cuozzo, Pastor – Bible Baptist Church, New Egypt NJ
Vice Chair: Clenard Childress, Pastor – New Calvary Baptist Church, Montclair NJ

Father Kevin Robinson, Catholic Priest – North Caldwell, NJ

Gary Clark, Pastor – Calvary Chapel Gloucester County, Turnersville NJ
Yisrael Knopfler, Rabbi – Congregation Premishlan, Lakewood NJ; Chief Rabbinical Justice, Lakewood Rabbinical Court
Jeff McCloud, Sr., Pastor – Rio Grande Bible Baptist Church, Rio Grande NJ
Geneveve Vincent, Pastor – Vision of Promise Ministries International Inc., Plumsted NJ

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