Religious Leaders Pledge to Keep Endorsements Out of Houses of Worship

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ari Geller, West End Strategy Team, 202-776-7700, Ari@westendstrategy.com

September 18, 2008

Pledge Counters Plans by Alliance Defense Fund to Violate Boundaries Between Religion and Government

Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance has launched a nationwide campaign urging clergy to protect the boundaries between religion and government and refrain from endorsing political candidates on behalf of their house of worship. Clergy across the country are being asked to sign a six point pledge to uphold certain standards during the election. This effort stands in stark contrast to the Alliance Defense Fund’s (ADF) plans to have clergy around the country violate federal law by making endorsements from the pulpit on September 28. A copy of the pledge along with a selection of signers can be found here at http://www.interfaithalliance.org/clergypledge

The Interfaith Alliance pledge has already been signed by over 25 major religious leaders spanning both the religious and ideological spectrum. Among the first singers of the pledge was the Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland Church and a leader in the evangelical movement. Other signers include the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church; Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director of the Islamic Society of North America, and Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein, Senior Rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York.

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance and Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana told his own congregation last Sunday: “I cannot stress strongly enough my objections to turning houses of worship into pseudo-precinct nominating conventions.” He went on to say, “I am as concerned about what such a practice in houses of worship would do to the integrity and credibility of religion as about what it would do to weaken the Constitution.” You can listen to or read the complete sermon at http://www.northmin.org/sermons/2008

Rev. Joel Hunter signed the pledge because of the proper role religious leaders should have over their congregants. By endorsing candidates from the pulpit: “You’re almost usurping the spiritual leadership that ought to come only from their personal faith with God." Rev. Hunter also stated, “To somehow subjugate this transcendent God into one political party or another or one candidate or another is, I think, insulting toward God.” Dr. Hunter will be a guest on Rev. Gaddy’s weekly radio show, State of Belief, this weekend.

Last Friday, Interfaith Alliance asked its members across the country to sign the pledge (if they are clergy) or obtain a signature from their religious leader. Over 150 clergy have signed on to the pledge based on that call.

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IInterfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.