Interfaith Alliance Statement on the Texas State Board of Education Vote Approving New Social Studies Standards
May 21 2010
Washington, DC –Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement criticizing today’s vote by the Texas State Board of Education approving new set of social studies standards with a clear ideological bent.
I am gravely disappointed, but not surprised, by today’s vote of the Texas State Board of Education. Once you assume the prerogative to change history, it is an easy leap to claiming the authority to change the Constitution in order to reshape the future according to a biased ideological vision.
I hope people will not misunderstand this as an act favorable to religion. This ill-advised action makes it imperative that citizens express their outrage over this decision and their desire for textbook publishers to be true to the mission of quality education and the facts of history.
May 18 2010
|The Honorable Bradley Byrne
P.O. Box 3510
Montgomery, AL 36109
|The Honorable Roy Moore
P.O. Box 100
Gallant, AL 35972
May 17, 2010
Dear Mr. Byrne and Judge Moore,
As a Baptist minister and as a patriotic American, I have been deeply disturbed by the disproportionate role religion has played during recent election cycles. Indeed, at times, the entanglement between religion and politics has seemed to threaten the integrity of religion and the vitality of politics.
Based on recent statements from both of your campaigns, I am concerned that you are continuing this trend. Religion should never be used as a political tool – campaigns should be about policies, issues that will affect how a candidate governs and shapes the lives of his or her constituents, not about a candidate’s religious faith.
Attacks by Judge Moore on Mr. Byrne’s candidacy based upon whether or not he believes in evolution and whether or not he believes that the Bible is completely true exemplify the improper use and abuse of religion in the election process. Mr. Byrne’s position on teaching creationism or evolution in schools is certainly relevant to understanding the education policies he would uphold as governor. But criticizing his position on teaching evolution in order to challenge his faith instead of his politics and questioning his belief in the Bible is entirely inappropriate. Such attacks appear aimed at nothing more than discrediting Mr. Byrne and his faith – which is in no way relevant to his competency to serve as governor. A person’s faith is a personal tradition of belief – and should remain exactly that – personal
Similarly, Mr. Byrne’s support for teaching the theology of creationism in public schools and not the pure science of evolution is disturbing enough in and of itself. But even more troubling is the assertion that “faith in God” and “dependence on our creator and savior” make Alabamans who they are and dictate their “collective character.” Such a statement disenfranchises voters who do not share those beliefs and denigrates their constitutional freedom to believe in whatever religious faith they choose, or adhere to none at all.
Voters have the right to know what role a candidate’s faith will play in creating public policy, whether candidates will respect the boundaries between religion and government and how a candidate will balance the principles of their faith with their pledge to defend the Constitution, particularly when the two come into conflict. But the Constitution clearly prohibits using a candidate’s religious convictions as a qualification for public office. Political campaigns are about presenting real solutions to real problems, enabling voters to choose the path that they believe their state should follow. Engaging in a “holier than thou” competition to does nothing to illuminate those solutions.
I would also hope both of you would uphold the religious freedom of all Alabamans to believe in or to reject any religious faith, as they choose. Such freedom is promised by the First Amendment to our Constitution and is an integral part of American democracy. Based upon your recent conduct, I have serious doubts as to whether either of you as governor would truly uphold these rights for all Alabamans, not just your coreligionists.
It is unfortunate that your respective campaigns represent just the most recent in a long line of examples of political candidates misusing religion to gain voters’ support. I urge you both to cease these faith-based attacks and defenses and ensure that the remainder of your campaigns are focused on the issues which distinguish you as candidates, not the tenets of your faith.
Winning an election is not worth destroying the private integrity of your personal beliefs or compromising our nation’s historic commitment to religious freedom.
C. Welton Gaddy
Interfaith Alliance has released a statment correcting the record on Roy Moore. Click here to read the statement.
May 11 2010
Washington, DC - Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, issued the following statement today following President Barack Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan to the United States Supreme Court:
President Obama exercised one of his most important responsibilities today in nominating Elena Kagan to be a Justice on the United States Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court’s systematic assault on the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom over the last few years makes it even more important for the U.S. Senate to thoroughly examine Ms. Kagan’s record.
More and more, the fight to protect our religious freedom is happening in the courts rather than in Congress. Given that reality, I will be particularly attentive to the nominee's views on the importance of preventing any entanglement between the institutions of religion and government in our nation. Though this is not the only concern that merits attention and examination, support for religious freedom is crucial to maintaining the foundation on which our system of government has been constructed and sustained.
Statement of Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy Criticizing the Chaplains’ Letter to President Obama and Secretary Gates on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Apr 28 2010
Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, issued the following statement today in response to a letter from a group of retired chaplains asking President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates to uphold the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of gays in the military:
As a longtime advocate for equal rights for all citizens, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, I am deeply troubled by the views expressed in today’s letter from a group of retired military chaplains to President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates. It is so fraught with illogical reasoning, one almost does not know where to begin in discussing its content.
The chaplains claim that their religious freedoms would be threatened if gays serve openly in the military. Yet, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in no way would hinder chaplains from voicing their personal moral convictions and theological doctrines. The chaplaincy should represent the diversity of faiths in the military, not simply one point of view.
Similarly, the chaplains argue that this would impact their “ability to counsel” because “service members seeking guidance regarding homosexual relationships will place chaplains in an untenable position.” By this logic, we also should ban all service members whose gambling habits, treatment of spouses, and views on abortion, politics, or the economy are not in line with those of the chaplains. As a Baptist minister, I frequently counsel people whose beliefs on a number of subjects are not exactly in line with the religious or moral values that I embrace. Such a challenge in counseling comes with the territory of being a clergy member.
If forced to interact with gays in the military, this group of chaplains says they will be presented with a moral conundrum. Yet, Jesus said we are to love other people as he loved us—the love of Jesus was inclusive beyond measure and graceful beyond imagination. In fact, this Sunday, Christians around the world will be studying Jesus’ admonition for his followers to love others as he has loved them—often called “the new commandment.” The views expressed by the chaplains are the antithesis of the themes of love and inclusion commended and demonstrated by the Christ from whom they form their religious identity. If Christian chaplains followed the teachings of Jesus they would have no problem joining any military member in prayer or spiritual thought.
Our servicemen and women deserve chaplains who support and comfort them as they carry out their military duties regardless of their individual lifestyles. Sexual orientation is no more a hindrance to that mission now than was racial identity years ago. Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a step forward in equality and justice for all citizens. When chaplains find the government’s pursuit of these goals to be a threat to their values, we must ask whether something is askew with their values.