Interfaith Alliance and Interfaith Alliance Of Iowa Criticize DART For Pulling an Ad Placed by an Atheist Group and Calls on Governor Culver to Clarify His Response
DART's decision to pull an ad placed by an atheist group should be disturbing to anyone who cares about free speech and religious freedom. We live in a nation where people are free to express themselves, regardless of whether or not they are religious. People of faith put their own religious freedom at risk when they trample on the right of others to believe differently.
Gaddy and Ryan Terrell also raised concerns about Governor Chet Culver's inappropriate response to the controversy.
The Governor's need for guidance from the Iowa Attorney General to determine if the atheist group deserves the same free speech rights as Christian groups is troubling. Governor Culver should rethink his statement and make clear his commitment to the First Amendment's guarantees of freedom of religion and freedom of speech for religious people and non-religious people alike.
Interfaith Alliance Releases Paper On Same-Gender Marriage & Religious Freedom
Rev. Gaddy's paper can be read at: http://www.interfaithalliance.org/equality
"My purpose in writing this paper is as simple as the subject of the paper is complex," said Rev. Gaddy. "I want to find a way for people with contradictory beliefs, religions, values and opinions to live together without violating the basic nature of our democracy. I am motivated by confidence in the power of religion to affect reconciliation, and I am also a patriot who embodies the unwavering commitment to freedom and justice integral to the American experience."
The paper, in which Rev. Gaddy expresses support for same-gender marriage, seeks to shift the perspective on LGBT equality from problem to solution. To do so, Rev. Gaddy advocates for moving from scriptural argument to religious freedom agreement, and to address the issue of equality as informed by the U.S. Constitution.
Gaddy's hope is that this change will allow same-gender couples to receive basic civil rights benefits without impacting a religious organization's right to marry only people it judges worthy of its blessing.
"The First Amendment's religious liberty provisions ensure that government cannot impose a particular view of marriage on religious institutions, or limit their speech as it relates to marriage," added Rev. Gaddy. "But marriage in this country is a civil issue, and all citizens deserve the same constitutional rights. The U.S. Constitution's religious freedom clauses actually emerged from devotion to the very principles that I seek to preserve and strengthen in the outcome of the public debate of same-gender marriage."
Remaining true to Interfaith Alliance's broader goals, the paper encourages citizens of diverse backgrounds to find areas of commonality, and to practice civility when engaging in conversations with people who hold different opinions.
"We must move forward in this conversation with appreciation for all Americans and the importance of religious freedom in this country," Gaddy said. "By making this the starting point for the conversation we can begin to have real dialogue and look for resolutions."
Interfaith Alliance Statement On the Senate Passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Hate is neither a religious nor an American value, and that is why Interfaith Alliance praises the Senate for passing this hate crimes prevention bill. The sacred scriptures of many different faith traditions speak with dramatic unanimity in vehemently condemning hate. If we aspire to be true to the prophetic core of our religions and our American values, we cannot condemn hate and then sit idly by while it destroys the lives of a group of our fellow citizens.
Although they made a lot of noise, only a handful of religious right extremists have opposed this bill. Their strategic attempt to use religion as a scare tactic is deplorable. This legislation in no way will impinge on the rights of clergy to speak freely from the pulpit. Indeed, the legislation specifically states that "nothing in this act shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech."
I must point out that our more-than-a-decade-long effort to secure meaningful hate crimes prevention legislation has reached this point before only to be stopped short of enactment for want of the signature of the President of the United States. Even as we applaud the Senate, we urge them to get this legislation to President Obama, and we appeal to him to sign it into law without delay. It is long past due, but this can be the moment for a ringing pronouncement of our democracy's intolerance of hate and the crime it foments.
Interfaith Alliance Statement on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Representative Barney Frank acted in the best interest of democracy by introducing a fully-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. A commitment to the defense of both faith and freedom has motivated Interfaith Alliance to work hard to ensure that ENDA will ban workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, while also including religious exemption language that would protect religious employers' constitutional rights.
Unlike some on the radical religious right, we believe a vibrant democracy guarantees the protection of civil rights for everybody with no exception for sexual orientation. Interfaith Alliance will seek to counter the voices of a few religious people who falsely claim to represent all religious people as they attempt to quash ENDA and thus compromise religious freedom. Passage of a fully inclusive ENDA, with appropriate religious exemptions, will be a victory for democracy and cause for celebration among all who value religious freedom.
Interfaith Alliance Praises Legalization of Same-Gender Marriage in New Hampshire
New Hampshire's decision to legalize same-gender marriage continues a growing momentum in support of this issue. More and more people are coming to recognize that government support for same-gender marriage is "a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law." Expanding civil rights and respecting individual freedom for all persons pulsate at the heart of American democracy.
Given our nation's constitutional commitment to religious freedom, nothing in today's action will deprive anyone of the right to practice the teachings of their respective religious institutions. But the state of New Hampshire will treat all citizens fairly. Members of the GLBT community in New Hampshire no longer will be denied access to the right to marry based on a civil prohibition shaped by some people's religious convictions.