Press Releases

The Faith Community Loses a Patriot, the Administration forgets about our poor and Welton's Curch Speaks Up!

Washington, April 14  On this Sunday's "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation's show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy talks about the passing of Rev. William Coffin, chats with Rev. Jim Forbes about the nations budget and listens members of his own congregation in Louisiana talk about what it means to be interfaith. Welton along with the entire faith community mourns the passing of Rev. William Sloane Coffin, a visionary and activist in the faith community. Cofin was a lifelong warrior for peace and a witness for justice and equal rights for all. He served as Senior Minister at The Riverside Church and as Yale University Chaplain. "He was as comfortable in a march as in a pulpit," Gaddy says, "as energized by protest as by advocacy, as fulfilled by his poetry as by his politics. This man was as deeply sensitive personally as he was profoundly courageous publicly. Though firmly a Christian, Bill Coffin embraced with appreciation the broadest expanse of religious traditions." Rev. Forbes is the first African-American minister to serve at The Riverside Church in New York. The Riverside Church is an interdenominational, interracial, and international church built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1927 with more than 2,400 members. Welton asks Rev. Forbes why the Administration is having problems with the budget and who is at risk because of government cutbacks. "When the nation has difficulty," Forbes says, "they balance the budget on the backs of the poor. Something ought to be done about that." Members of Welton's congregation at Northminster Church explain what it was like building a progressive church in a conservative community and how important it is to build bridges between the religious groups within the community.

The Interfaith Alliance Urges President to Eliminate Unconstitutional Faith-Based Office

Washington, April 18 – Today, in response to the resignation of James Towey as director of the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, The Interfaith Alliance again called on President Bush to end his unconstitutional experiment in government funding of religion and to eliminate that White House office and similar offices in federal departments and agencies.

 

“Mr. President, for the sake of religious liberty, please stop mixing religion with politics in the appropriations process and stop violating the Constitution by sponsoring and funding favored religious groups,” said the Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of The Interfaith Alliance. “A past director and a past deputy director of the president’s faith-based office have testified that it is and has always been a program designed to gain political advantage rather than to increase help to those in need. While the president has talked endlessly about the need for federal funding of religious organizations, he has decreased total funds going to faith-based social service providers in recent years.

 

“Because the Congress wisely refused to approve the president’s programs to funnel money to organizations that discriminate in hiring and that proselytize recipients, the president issued several executive orders in his first term bringing in five years of public policy that have been bad for religion and bad for democracy.

 

  “We believe that appropriate partnerships between religious organizations and the government for the purpose of helping those in need can be of great mutual benefit. For many decades, organizations like Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services and United Jewish Communities have performed invaluable services with financial assistance from the government. But they carefully separate religious activities from their 501(c) (3) social services programs. They follow all civil rights laws and they don’t discriminate in hiring based on religion. We encourage the continuation of federal support for such healthy partnerships, but neither job applicants nor recipients of assistance should have to risk the sacrifice of their religious freedom.”

Is America a Theocracy and if so, What’s Next!?

Washington, April 20 – On this Sunday’s "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy talks with the author of American Theocracy, Kevin Phillips, and the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives is closely scrutinized.

 

Phillips’ book has been the center of attention for several weeks now as he claims the Republican Party is edging toward theocratic government.  Phillips, a former Republican strategist, warns that America has three features that in combination have brought down every world-dominating power: radically religious governance, an overdependence on diminishing resources (like oil), and a massive amount of debt.

 

"As the religious imprint on the Republican Party grew,” Phillips says, “there was an increase in the blurring of the lines between the church and the state.”  And he warns of President Bush's "odd view of himself," claiming that the President possesses an "egocentricity verging on messianic self-appointment."  

 

James Towey, Director of the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, resigned this week, but the news was barely reported. In his remarks he calls critics of the faith based initiative “secular extremists” – to which Welton takes offense. 

 

“The faith based initiative is the perfect example of what is wrong at the intersection of politics and religion today,” Welton says. “It takes religious organizations’ vast potential for good and exploits it for political payoffs. If the government will let religion alone, so much good can be done.”

Hollyn Hollman, General Counsel at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, joins Welton to offer a legal viewpoint on the office and Towey’s resignation.

 

“We’re going to see that a lot of harm has been done and the office has been counterproductive,” Hollman says. “Our concerns are legal and moral. There is a fundamental conflict in the faith based initiative this Administration has pushed.”

Unconstitutional Experiment Threatens Religion and Democracy

Washington, April 28 – On this Sunday’s "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy continues to discuss the President’s Faith-Based Initiative and its negative impact on religion and politics in America.  He’s also joined by NPR correspondent and Priestess of Wicca Margot Adler to discuss paganism in America today.

 

In a news conference this week, The Interfaith Alliance and several national religious leaders called on President Bush to dismantle the Faith-Based Initiative. The leaders fear the Office has been used as a political football to gain favor with certain groups. The Rev. Timothy McDonald, Pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta and Chair of African American Ministers in Action joins Welton to warn people of the initiative’s real effects.

 

“It is hard to bark when there’s a bone in your mouth,” McDonald says. “This Administration has used the faith-based initiative to buy the black church.”

 

Welton stresses the initiative was a bad idea when it was conceived in 1999 and is even worse now.

 

“Put plainly,” Gaddy says, “it’s an ill-conceived, unconstitutional experiment that creates government sponsored religion and threatens the integrity of democracy and the sanctity of religion.”

 

Continuing State of Belief’s commitment to interfaith dialogue, Welton interviews Margot Adler, a Wiccan, about the current state of religious tolerance in this nation.

 

“We’re going through a really bad patch,” Adler says. “I think that people’s hearts aren’t very open. I think what people are learning very often in their churches, in their synagogues and in their various houses of worship, are not an appreciation for diversity and I think it’s going to be a very long struggle.”