On the Passing of Pam Baldwin, Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance of Idaho
Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy released the following statement on the passing of longtime friend and colleague Pam Baldwin, the Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance of Idaho:
"On behalf of the board of directors and staff of Interfaith Alliance in Washington, we mourn the passing of our friend and colleague Pam Baldwin. As the Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance of Idaho, Pam has been a long-time partner in our work protecting faith and freedom. Her hard work has contributed to protecting the rights of Idahoans across the state. Her many accomplishments included the development of workshops to combat hate crimes, bringing together people of many faiths to take on homelessness, and standing by the Muslim community after 9/11. She was a mentor to many on issues of fairness and justice. Our thoughts and prayers are with Pam’s husband Bob, her children and the rest of her family and friends."
Interfaith Alliance slams new legislation that seeks to legalize discrimination against LGBT couples again
Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy blasted a new bill, the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act” which falsely purports to protect religious individuals and institutions who object to marriage for same-gender couples. Instead, the legislation would enable discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Rev. Gaddy issued the following statement in response to the bill:
"The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act peddles the false notion that religious liberty and marriage equality are at odds—which is patently untrue. The stated purpose of this bill is to prevent the adverse treatment of anyone because of his or her views on marriage. Yet, this bill would result in the adverse treatment of same-gender couples who have made a lifetime commitment to the person they love through marriage. We must see this bill for what it truly is—discrimination against LGBT Americans and the further misappropriation of religious liberty to achieve that discrimination."
"This bill would also result in taxpayer-funded discrimination, as it urges our government to fund social service providers without the requirement that they serve all Americans equally. The First Amendment protects our religious freedom but that freedom is not a license to discriminate. A final reminder: marriage equality does not put houses of worship and clergy at risk. Our government cannot—and does not —require clergy to solemnize unions with which they do not agree. Religion and religious freedom should never be used to discriminate, and neither should tax dollars."
Interfaith Alliance slams report calling for an end to ban on endorsing candidates from the pulpit
Washington, D.C. – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy slammed a report calling for an end to the long-time ban on clergy preaching politics from the pulpit. The report was issued by the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations. Gaddy issued the following statement in response to the report:
"The fact that this particular grouping of people has come together to call for eliminating the ban on politics from the pulpit is of little surprise. No one should misunderstand this report as representative of all people of faith or as authentic to our nation’s historic understanding of the boundaries between religion and government. Indeed, the report does not even represent the whole of the commission’s advisors, particularly those -- whom I am proud to call colleagues -- who wrote their own position paper opposing the conclusions of the commission report."
"The rights of clergy to preach about the most pressing issues of the day and to provide moral guidance to their congregations are not in danger and rightly must be protected. But those rights are very different from standing at the pulpit -- shrouded in your faith -- to announce that your congregation should vote for one candidate or party over another. There is an implicit message in doing so -- sometimes explicit -- that clergy are speaking in the name of God and an explicit message that breeds divisiveness in a congregation that should be together united in faith."
"Frankly, there is already too much religion in politics. When candidates invoke religion, or ask clergy to do it for them, it is usually about advancing the candidate and rarely about benefiting religion. Changing the laws of the land to allow a further intertwining of religion and politics will only serve to endanger both. Having served as an active pastor for more than 50 years, I cannot think of a more effective way of harming houses of worship across our nation than to allow partisan politics to compromise the integrity of the inclusive message of houses of worship."
Joint Statement on First Anniversary of Oak Creek Gurdwara Shooting
On August 5, 2012, a gunman with neo-Nazi ties stormed into a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and opened fire killing six American Sikh worshippers and injuring three others. It was one of the most lethal attacks on an American house of worship since the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
One year after one of the deadliest hate crimes in our nation's history, The Sikh Coalition, Muslim Advocates, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Anti-Defamation League, Interfaith Alliance, Rights Working Group, and American Civil Liberties Union remember the victims and their families. We hope that our national leaders will address the escalating crisis of violence and discrimination against religious minorities in America. Too many lives have been destroyed because of hate violence from the shooting at the Oak Creek gurdwara to the multitude of violent attacks on members from the Arab, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, and South Asian American communities. Approximately 100 organizations and 37 members of Congress have called on President Obama to directly tackle the problem and host a summit to find solutions on how to protect religious minorities and prevent violence and discrimination. Now, more than ever, President Obama's leadership is critical to this issue; we hope that he will take action and that tragedies such as these never happen again.
Interfaith Alliance Applauds Committee Passage of ENDA
Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement applauding the 15-7 Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee vote to send the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the floor of the U.S. Senate:
"The strong bipartisan vote in support of ENDA today in the Senate HELP Committee is no small feat and is another indicator of how far we have come as a nation, a reflection of the breadth of support for protections like this. It is long past time for ENDA to become law and I urge the Senate to move quickly to schedule a vote and, of course, to pass this legislation."
"It is no secret that religion and religious freedom are often invoked as reasons to oppose ENDA and other measures that would ensure LGBT Americans are fully and equally protected under law. This law, however, broadly exempts houses of worship and religiously affiliated organizations, mirroring the exemptions provided in the religious discrimination provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Any claims that ENDA is a threat to religious liberty are misplaced. Religion should never be used to discriminate."