Press Releases

Interfaith Alliance Supports Investigation Into Army's Punishment of Soldiers Who Opted Out of Christian Concert

WASHINGTON, DC — The Interfaith Alliance today expressed concern over recent reports that soldiers at the Fort Eustis Army base were punished for refusing to attend a Christian rock concert in May. The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, a practicing Baptist minister and President of Interfaith Alliance, issued the following statement:
 
"We welcome the Pentagon’s decision to investigate U.S. soldiers’ claims that they were punished for refusing to attend an Army-sponsored event featuring a performance by a Christian rock group. Though we do not yet know all the details of this situation – or of the reported “Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts,” of which this concert was part – we commend the soldiers for coming forward and publicly standing up for their beliefs.  This, too, qualifies as an act of defense of our nation and its Constitution. 
 
"Historically, our service men and women have committed themselves to defending our country and its many freedoms, including the right to religious liberty. Not all battles involve guns.  The Army’s sponsorship of these concerts is on shaky grounds as is; forcing our soldiers to attend an event that goes against their beliefs, or else be unfairly punished. No American should have to experience such an imposition of religion. Whether it is the Army or any other organization mandating attendance at a religious event, it is a grievous violation of the First Amendment and an insult to the freedoms upon which this country was founded."

Rachel Maddow and Joan Brown Campbell to Receive The 2010 Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award

Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance announced today that the 2010 Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award will be presented to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, and the Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, Director of the Department of Religion at the Chautauqua Institution. The awards will be presented at a gala dinner in New York City on October 24, 2010.

“Walter Cronkite once told me that no less than the future of our nation was at stake in the work of Interfaith Alliance, and I can think of no two people who contribute more to advancing our mission than Rachel Maddow and Joan Brown Campbell,” said Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance. “Rachel’s passionate coverage of the intersection of religion and politics exhibits a strong personal intellect coupled with constitutional sensitivity to the proper boundaries between religion and government. Joan was instrumental in launching the work of Interfaith Alliance and never has wavered in her vigorous commitment to and involvement in strengthening religious freedom in our nation and around the world.”

The Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award, established by Interfaith Alliance in 1998, recognizes individuals who courageously promote democratic values, defend religious freedom and reinvigorate informed civic participation. The award recognizes individuals whose actions have embodied the values of civility, tolerance, diversity and cooperation in the advancement of public dialogue and public policy on traditionally controversial and divisive issues. Mr. Cronkite served as Honorary Chairman of Interfaith Alliance until his death in 2009.

Past recipients of the Cronkite award include actor and activist George Clooney, ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, CNN’s Larry King, journalists Bill & Judith Moyers, U.S. Representatives Chet Edwards & Amo Houghton, the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Rabbi Steven Jacobs and activist Judy Shepard. A full list of past honorees can be found at www.interfaithalliance.org/gala, along with information on how to purchase tickets for the event.

Interfaith Alliance Expresses Disappointment In Tone of Discussion About Cordoba House

Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, released the following statement in response to comments from President Obama and Members of Congress during the last week regarding the proposed Islamic Center in lower Manhattan:  

I was proud to see President Obama’s strong endorsement of religious freedom on Friday, only to be disappointed on Saturday when he seemed to walk back his comments. This is a project that shows the American Muslim community’s commitment to democratic values, interfaith dialogue, and civic engagement and is, in many ways, a slap in the face to the extremists who sought to destroy those values with the September 11th attacks.  Opponents must stop intentionally mischaracterizing the motives of those behind the Cordoba Initiative. To oppose this project because Islam is involved and Muslims are sponsors of it is a violation of the religious freedom guaranteed and protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. 

It has been disheartening to see Members of Congress and other national leaders cite public opinion polling as a reason to stop the project. Anyone with a basic knowledge of the history of the First Amendment knows that religious freedom exists in part to protect the rights of the minority from the whim of the majority. In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that if the Founding Fathers had relied on polling data, the First Amendment might not exist at all. The President and Congress should remember that they have sworn to defend the Constitution. Never is there a time to waver from that commitment.
 

Interfaith Alliance Supports House Resolution on Texas School Board’s Flawed Curriculum

WASHINGTON, DC – Interfaith Alliance, along with its coalition partners, sent a letter to Texas Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson endorsing legislation that she recently introduced, H. Res 1593, which declares Congressional support for academically based social studies curriculum standards for national textbooks. This is in response to recent curriculum shifts made by the Texas State Board of Education. Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement:

 

I urge Congress to pass H. Res. 1593 and lend its weight to countering the Texas State Board of Education’s disturbing efforts to rewrite American history. The nation needs for Congress to send a loud and clear message that the history we teach our children should be based on facts, not on ideology.

 

For months, revisionists in Texas have fought to modify public school curriculum to downplay the darker parts of American history and to undermine the constitutionally mandated boundaries between institutions of religion and government. Such changes are outside the mainstream of historic scholarship and counterproductive to religion and democracy.

 

This matter is not simply a state or local one confined to Texas. These revisions pose a frightening potential to set into motion damaging and far-reaching, national initiatives. As a major consumer of textbooks, the curriculum in books needed for Texas public schools wields substantial influence on the books publishers create to be used in classes across the country. When a small group of politicians can revise a curriculum to obscure the history taught in classrooms around the country, nothing less than the education and future of all our nation’s children' are at stake.

 

Our children deserve the best, most accurate educational resources possible, resources that reflect carefully-researched history, not politically-motivated ideology. School children should not be duped by efforts to teach narrow-minded opinions as trusted historical facts. Only then can they receive the best education possible. Surely, most Americans agree that integral to quality education is instruction on the true meaning of the First Amendment and high praise for the religious freedom we hold dear – our first freedom that has contributed to our nation’s greatness.    

 

Other signatories to the letter included: American Federation of Teachers, Americans for Religious Liberty, American Association of University Women, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Anti-Defamation League, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Catholics for Choice, Center for Inquiry, Hindu American Foundation, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, National Alliance of Black School Educators, NAACP, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Council of La Raza, National Council of Jewish Women, National Education Association, National Women’s Law Center, People For the American Way, Secular Coalition for America, Texas Faith Network, Texas Freedom Network and the United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries.