Press Releases

Interfaith Alliance praises nomination of Rabbi David Saperstein as the next U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom

Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance president, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, released the following statement today following Rabbi David Saperstein’s nomination as U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom by President Barack Obama. Saperstein is a longtime member of Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s board of directors.

"President Obama’s appointment of Rabbi David Saperstein as U.S. Ambassador for International religious freedom is the best possible decision that he could have made for this office. David has been a friend and ally in our efforts to protect religious freedom here in the United States and around the world. Interfaith Alliance Foundation has been honored to have him as a longtime member of our board. Additionally, we have been proud to partner with him throughout his four decades as the leader of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. During that time, David has served as a model in the social justice community for building relationships based on respect and understanding. These are skills that will serve him well in his new role."

"Now, more than ever, we need an ambassador who understands the challenges we face on a global scale. We need someone who is deeply committed to changing the lives of people whose freedom of conscience is severely restricted because of who they are or where they live. David Saperstein understands these challenges and will work to protect the rights of all people regardless of their faith or belief."

Interfaith Alliance Applauds President Obama’s Executive Order, Thanks The President for Not Creating a New Religious Exemption

WASHINGTON – Following President Barack Obama’s signing of an executive order barring discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance, issued this statement:

“The president’s decision to bar discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity demonstrates his compassion for those Americans who fear discrimination; his decision not to include a new religious exemption is a testament to his understanding of religious freedom. We cannot secure the separation of church and state if religious organizations are allowed to use federal money to pursue a sectarian agenda.  This executive order is an important step toward ensuring that public money does not fund religiously motivated discrimination.”

“While I whole-heartedly applaud the president’s action today, I am disappointed that he did not go further to undo the provisions that President George W. Bush signed allowing for religious organizations to discriminate against people of other religions in their hiring. I was deeply moved by the way the faith community mobilized to support this executive order: 100 faith leaders demanded that there not be a religious exemption; countless religious and civil rights organizations joined together to urge a comprehensive executive order; and thousands of people of faith from across the country added their voice to the call. It is my sincere hope that we can keep up this energy, maintain this momentum, as we continue the unfinished work of ending government-funded religious discrimination and protecting the rights of all LGBT workers in America.”

Interfaith Alliance, Sikh Coalition File Brief Arguing NYPD Surveillance Jeopardizes Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON – Today Interfaith Alliance and Sikh Coalition filed an amicus brief in the case Hassan v. City of New York, which is before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The case concerns the New York Police Department’s program of targeted surveillance against Muslims, Muslim community centers and houses of worship in New Jersey. The Sikh Coalition and Interfaith Alliance assert that this program raises serious First Amendment concerns and jeopardizes America’s promise of religious freedom. Interfaith Alliance and Sikh Coalition were joined in filing the brief by more than 20 other organizations representing America’s wide spectrum of religious backgrounds.

“The targeting and surveillance of the American Muslim community should be deeply disturbing for all those who cherish religious liberty.” Said Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance. “Our religious exercise cannot truly be free if we are concerned that our choices are being carefully monitored. Our houses of worship cannot be places of learning and spiritual growth when there is a credible fear that they may be infiltrated by law enforcement. Our religious leaders cannot serve as the prophetic voices that have shaped America for generations when they are punished or intimidated because of their beliefs.”

“Imagine worshipping while wondering if law enforcement is peering over your shoulder,” said, Amardeep Singh, Program Director of the Sikh Coalition. “The surveillance of a whole community without regard for individual culpability is the definition of ‘collective punishment.’ If it can happen to the American Muslim community it can happen to any faith community. We hope the courts will agree that our values and freedoms as a nation are irretrievably compromised by the overbroad surveillance in this case.”
    
Interfaith Alliance, a national organization whose membership makes up over 75 different faith traditions, works to combat religious discrimination and to defend the religious freedom of all Americans. The Sikh Coalition is the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization.

The full brief can be found here: http://www.muslimadvocates.org/files/Hassan-_-Religious-Liberty-Brief.pdf

Interfaith Alliance Says the Supreme Court Made a Grave Error in Hobby Lobby Decision

WASHINGTON -- Interfaith Alliance president Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy called today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v. Sebelius a “grave error” and raised serious concerns about its impact on our understanding of religious freedom. Interfaith Alliance has been a longtime advocate for religious freedom and joined with other religious groups in filing a friend of the court brief asking the court to rule against the owners of for-profit private corporations that want to deny their employees access to birth control:

"The Supreme Court made a grave error today. The balance between religious freedom and other compelling interests has always been tenuous, but we may very well remember today’s decision as the moment that balance was radically recalibrated. Not only has the Court, for the first time in history, expanded the definition of religious freedom to include for-profit corporate entities, it has determined that the free exercise of those employers outweighs that of their employees. The First Amendment is at its best when it is used to protect the rights of minorities from the whims of the powerful. Today’s decision, which gives the powerful the right to force their religious beliefs on those around them, is a far cry from the best traditions of religious freedom."

"There are many questions that have been left unanswered in this decision that will further imperil our historic understanding of religious freedom. Chief among them is the Court determining that all corporations are covered under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which indicates that this decision could eventually move beyond closely held corporations. Additionally, the Court may have only ruled on the contraception mandate today, but there is no reason to believe the implications of this decision will be limited to that issue."

"I find strength in knowing that we have lost at the Court before and that religious freedom has not been so easily shaken. We will find a way, through legal action and through legislation, to repair the damage that was done to our democracy today."