Interfaith Alliance Condemns Attack on Ohio Mosque and Stands Against Senseless Acts of Violence and Propaganda
“‘God, help us!’ I prayed as I read the headline: ‘Chemical irritant empties Islamic Society of Greater Dayton's mosque,’” said Rev. Gaddy. “Has it come to this—an assault on innocent children? Scapegoating Muslims as well as denouncing them verbally and attacking them physically has become all too common in this post 9/11 world.”
This attack comes just days after the distribution of the film Obsession- Radical Islam’s War against the West, in Ohio newspapers. News reports state that two unidentified men sprayed chemicals into a room full of children and infants as their mothers gathered together for their Ramadan prayers.
Rev Gaddy went on to say, “Did the distribution of an anti-Muslim film encourage the Islamaphobia that may have caused the attack? No one can say except the perpetrators, but the fear card is being played in the media, on the Internet and, now, in newspaper inserts across the United States.”
Ironically, this happened in the city that hosted the Dayton Peace Accords. Those historic agreements ended the Bosnia-Herzegovina war, in an accord that stopped the rape and slaughter of predominantly Muslim civilians. The Greater Dayton Interfaith Trialogue, formed after the 9/11 attacks, provided a discussion point for local Muslims, Jews and Christians to celebrate what could happen if people and their governments spoke up for peace, and for “others.” It has held important meetings and workshops designed to bridge the gulf that separates the faith traditions.
Rev. Gaddy concluded by saying, “Interfaith Alliance calls on its members and friends, and all Americans who believe in religious freedom and all those who value religious liberty and equality to send a strong, unified message that we will not tolerate bias motivated violence of any kind. We need to let the Muslim community of Dayton, and across America, know that we stand with them against terrorism and that we condemn this senseless act of violence and the propaganda that helped to fuel it.”
Religious Leaders Pledge to Keep Endorsements Out of Houses of Worship
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.
Statement of Rev. Welton Gaddy On the Distribution of the Anti-Muslim Film “Obsession” in Newspapers
Washington, DC – The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance released the following statement today in response to the distribution of the anti-Muslim film, “Obsession” in newspapers across the country:
“The Interfaith Alliance is profoundly disturbed to hear that 28 million copies of the three-year old film “Obsession” are being distributed via special advertising inserts into newspapers through September. The film’s targeted distribution is focused on presidential battleground states, and the sponsor, the Clarion Fund a non-profit 501(c)(3), offers no public information on their sources of funding, board of directors, or membership.
“We firmly believe that everyone has a right to an opinion. But when a cynical attempt is made to influence our nation’s presidential election by stoking fear of one religious group we believe the media along with public officials, such as the Federal Election Commission, must establish who is trying to influence our politics through religious bigotry. And, if these individuals are indeed propagating Islamophobia to influence our election, we should establish this well before, not after, the election.”
Interfaith Alliance Criticizes Palin’s Theocratic Rhetoric
If You Disagree with Her Energy Policy, You Are Violating God’s Will
Washington, DC – The Interfaith Alliance criticized Republican vice-presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin for using religion as a divisive tool. Her religious rhetoric is especially troublesome when combined with her past statements on teaching intelligent design in public schools and her approval of a Christian Heritage Week Proclamation.
The Huffington Post obtained a video of Gov. Palin speaking to the Wasilla Assembly of God, her one time church, on June 8, 2008. During the speech Gov. Palin stated that it is God’s will to build a natural gas pipeline across Alaska. She also stated American soldiers have been sent to Iraq “on a task that is from God.” Finally, she said that she is working hard to build new roads and schools for her state, but that her work in government may be irrelevant without religion. “I can do my job…but really all of that stuff doesn’t do any good if the people of Alaska’s heart [sic] isn’t right with God,” she told the church audience.
“This is the same kind of divisive theocratic rhetoric that President Bush has employed for eight years,” said Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Welton Gaddy. “Governor Palin is suggesting that people of faith must agree with her energy policy or they risk incurring God’s wrath. Good and faithful people hold differing points of view in this the most religiously diverse nation in the world.”
The Huffington Post also chronicled controversial sermons that have been preached by the pastor of Wasilla Assembly of God, Rev. Ed Kalnins. According to the story, critics of President Bush will be banished to hell, and supporters of Senator John Kerry may not be able to get into heaven. Federal tax law prohibits religious leaders from making partisan endorsements from the pulpit.
“Politically-partisan sermons not only invite IRS investigations, they erode the vitality of our democracy and they confuse people regarding the nature and purpose of true religion,” said Rev. Gaddy.
Statement of the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy On the Saddleback Civil Forum with Senators McCain and Obama
"Tonight's Saddleback Civil Forum provided a great opportunity to ask some important questions about the role of faith in politics. Pastor Warren deserves a great deal of credit for discussing some difficult social and political issues in a respectful and civil manner. However, as was the case with prior faith forums conducted during this campaign, some of the questions Pastor Warren posed crossed the line and promoted the fiction that the American people are electing a pastor-in-chief, rather than a commander-in-chief.
"Questions like 'What does it mean to trust in Christ?' create a religious test for public office and should have no place in the political discourse for a secular office. America is the most religiously diverse country in the world, and Christianity is only one of those faith traditions. Millions of voters who tuned in tonight will feel disenfranchised by some of the questions posed in this forum.
"And both the candidates deserve criticism for engaging in a competition to be 'holier than thou.' The American people want real solutions for real issues. Discussing the personal theology of the candidates does little to elucidate those solutions."