Statement of Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy On Pleasant Grove City v. Summum
Statement of Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
On Pleasant Grove City v. Summum
Washington, DC - Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement today in response to the Supreme Court's decision in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum. The court ruled unanimously that the Summum religious group cannot force the city of Pleasant Grove, UT to place a granite marker in a local park that is already home to a Ten Commandments display.
Today's Supreme Court ruling is of great concern to me. On the surface, it allows communities to favor one religious tradition over another. My preference would be for there not to be religious monuments on public lands at all, but if you are going to allow any, the government must grant equal access to all faith traditions.
The opinion in this case gives me even greater concern about the Supreme Court's decision this week to review Salazar v. Buono, and the likelihood that they may overturn the 9th Circuit's decision in that case. Our public parks are a sanctuary for people of all faiths and belief systems - they should not be used to endorse any one religion.
This decision, taken together with other rulings over the last few years shows a growing trend by the court to erode the boundaries between religion and government. If this trend continues we must turn to our congress and the president to enact legislation and set policy that protects our basic religious freedoms.
Statement of Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy On Salazar v. Buono
Washington, DC - Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement today in response to the Supreme Court's decision to review Salazar v. Buono. The court's decision in this case will determine whether a cross honoring fallen soldiers can stand in the Mojave National Preserve in San Bernardino County, California.
I view with caution the U.S. Supreme Courts decision to review Salazar v. Buono. The 9th Circuit ruling that the cross represents an "impermissible governmental endorsement of religion" should stand. Our public parks are a sanctuary for people of all faiths and belief systems - they should not be used to endorse any one religion.
If the court decides to allow such displays - and I hope they do not - then they must make clear in their ruling that equal access must be granted to all faiths to erect this type of monument.
In light of the court's 2007 decision in Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation we are concerned about the potential for the court to erode further the ability of ordinary Americans to have standing to protect their first amendment rights.
Statement of Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy On the Pending Appointment of Josh DuBois as Head of the White House Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
I congratulate Josh Dubois on his pending appointment as director of the Council for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He is an impressive, compassionate advocate with whom I have had several opportunities to meet throughout the electoral campaign and the work of President Obama’s transition team.
In every conversation with senior officials on the transition team I have conveyed my preference for the faith based office to be eliminated and a community based office established to help the weakest, poorest, and neediest people in our nation. However, now that a decision has been made to establish and staff another faith based office, the question remains whether or not a change in the name of the office as organized by the Bush Administration will reflect substantive change in the policies of the Obama Administration that advocates for religious liberty find acceptable.
I am cautiously optimistic regarding the new council. The transition team has been more than willing to listen to the problems of the prior office and consider a different approach for the new office. In recent conversations, senior transition officials assured me of President Obama’s interest in establishing a council that protects religious freedom and assures constitutional separation between the institutions of religion and government. Toward that end, assurances were offered that members of the new council would include people from different professions and not be limited to religious leaders. I await a final announcement that reflects these assurances.
Statement of Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy On Ingrid Mattson’s participation in the National Prayer Service
“Ingrid Mattson has been a long time friend of Interfaith Alliance and the cause of religious freedom. Under her leadership, ISNA entered into a substantive and meaningful dialogue with the Jewish Community that is unlike anything I have seen before. Exactly one year ago, I was proud to moderate a discussion at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with various prominent faith leaders including Ingrid. She proved to be a vigilant advocate for her community, but one that clearly understands that the best way to pursue that mission is through reaching out to others and changing the paradigm that we have been all to willing to accept in the past. Rumor and innuendo directed at her are nothing but a distraction from achieving the real change that so many of us are fighting for. I hope our new president listens carefully to what Ingrid has to say on Wednesday. He, and I believe all of us, will be better for it.”
Statement of Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy On the Final Report of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
"Maybe today’s final report from the White House on the faith-based initiative is the final act in an eight-year long charade, the true intent of which remains un-acknowledged. Indeed, nowhere in this wrap-up narrative on President Bush’s faith-based initiative will you find an admission that Congress never approved or funded the office, a note about the initiative’s divisiveness in local communities in which various religious groups were not treated equally, or a confession of the rank politicization of the office by electioneering politicos in the White House not to mention the threat to religious freedom as guaranteed by the constitution. As some former workers in the faith based office have pointed out, the zeal of the office was most apparent in so-called faith-based rallies held in swing states in election years and through unfettered government intrusion into sectarian organizations as federal funds were poured into the offering plates of religious organizations. The Bush Administration used this controversial office to direct money to friends on the religious right pretending that no constitutional boundaries exist between institutions of religion and agencies of government. We should all be thankful the charade is over."
"While I would have preferred that the incoming Obama administration close down this office, I am pleased by the transition team’s willingness to listen to concerns raised by those of us who have been critical of the office over the years. I await Mr. Obama's proposal for the future of the faith-based initiative with cautious optimism."