In 2019 Interfaith Alliance celebrated twenty-five years at the forefront of the movement to promote true religious freedom. While the notion of religious freedom has been used – and misused – by various groups over the course of our history, our work remains true to the foundational promise of the U.S. Constitution: that every American has the right to believe as they choose, with the secure knowledge that our government will not play favorites or favor religion over non-religion.
Interfaith Alliance is the only national interfaith organization dedicated to protecting the integrity of both religion and democracy in America.
Interfaith Alliance was founded in 1994 in response to a growing entanglement between religion and politics. “Twenty-five years ago fundamentalist Christianity dominated the news cycle, when three individuals met in Baltimore, Maryland and conceived the Interfaith Alliance,” said Dr. Herbert Valentine, founding president and honorary board member of Interfaith Alliance. “Representatives of various religious traditions were invited to be part of an alternative voice to the Religious Right of that period. Since that day in Baltimore, Interfaith Alliance has spoken nationally and effectively against many right-wing religious voices that trampled upon the First Amendment of the Constitution.”
For a quarter-century, Interfaith Alliance has met threats to true religious freedom head on. We defended the rights of American Jews, Muslims and Sikhs to wear religious garb in their place of employment. We fought to ensure that patients can receive medical care consistent with their beliefs, not the beliefs of their boss or their doctor. And, in cities and states across the country, we vigorously protected the separation of religion and government by challenging laws that redirect taxpayer funding away from public schools and toward private religious institutions.
Matters of faith are too often used to sow division. With members of over 75 different religious traditions and belief systems, our work is guided by the principle that religious and cultural diversity is essential to building vibrant communities.
That’s why we fight to ensure that all Americans are treated equally before the law and feel safe as they go about their daily lives. To this end, we unite disparate voices to pass laws like the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, advocate for the rights of LGBTQ+ people to be from discrimination, and work to oppose policies rooted in bigotry. And, when our friends and loved ones are targeted by hateful rhetoric or violence, we provide comfort to survivors and support their pursuit of justice.
As we look ahead to our next 25 years, Diana Eck, former Interfaith Alliance board member and current director of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, states our call:
“It is not enough for communities of faith to speak up and advocate for themselves in the public arena. We need to be truthful and faithful advocates for one another, for the common good, and for our civic well-being. This is the kind of engaged pluralism on which the strength of America is built and on which our future depends.”
This is why Interfaith Alliance continues to fight for faith and freedom. We hope you’ll join us.