Press Releases

Independence Day Special: The Founding Fathers on Religion

Washington June 27 – On this Sunday’s "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy discusses the Founding Fathers and their intention in writing the Constitution with four authors who are experts on the topic. They will tell you why the separation of church and state was important to America’s founding.

 

Host Rev. Welton Gaddy is joined by Jon Meacham, Susan Jacoby, Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore, who discuss the politically and religiously charged climate in which the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution -- and the continuing importance of separating religion from politics.  Welton observes, “so far, the American Constitution has done that better than any framework in history and it’s in all our interests to keep it that way.”

 

Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek magazine and author of American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation, explains that our country has struggled with religion from its founding, through the Civil War, and up till today. Meacham argues America was not founded as a Christian Nation and theologically cannot be a Christian Nation saying, “Jefferson and others had every opportunity to use Christian imagery if they wanted to but they didn’t, they used more deist, more generic language. Theologically you can’t have a Christian nation using the Christian scriptures as Jesus said to Pilate ‘My Kingdom is not of this World.’”

Jacoby, author of the bestselling book Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, who says the values of a decent person are the same whether they are a devoutly religious person or a secularist because they both wish to do good. She says no one should live for their religion, “What you need to live for is love, your work, your children. To say you live for your religion is nuts. People need to live for other people.”

Welton wraps up his discussion of the Founding Fathers with Kramnick and Moore, two scholars from Cornell University whose book, The Godless Constitution, who note the word God does not appear one time in the founding document. Moore says “The Framers created a political system where people could participate with any amount of religiosity or none.” Kramnick adds, “One of the features of American life and politics that most impresses foreigners is our Godless Constitution.”

Welton on Obama's Speech and Religious Conventions; Michelle Goldberg on Christian Nationalism

Washington, July 7  On this Sunday's "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation's show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy speaks with author Michelle Goldberg about the rise of Christian dominionism in America; examines Barack Obama's speech on how faith affects his life; examines the effect of recent religious conventions on the landscape of America; and explores how faith bloggers plan to make their mark. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) spoke last week on the value of his faith to his public and political life which set off a firestorm discussion regarding the role of religion in the Democratic Party. The speech drew many reactions as Welton says, "it was the most impressive statement on faith and politics in recent memory and a refreshing departure from the self-righteous certainty of so many politicians' religious speech." This summer, several religious denominations held annual meetings including the Unitarian Universalists, the Episcopal Church USA, the Presbyterian Church USA and the Southern Baptists. Important decisions came out of each one as Jennifer Kottler, Deputy Director of Protestants for the Common Good joins Welton to talk about their impact. Welton asks her about the Episcopal Church naming their first female presiding bishop. Kottler says, "I would like to think the church is stepping out in some ways but I think we're seeing the church start to reflect the broader society especially in the role of women." Michele Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Chrisian Nationalism, talks with Welton about Dominionism and how the Religious Right is building its own fairy tale world. Goldberg says, "it's a whole library of lies. You're talking about stacks and stacks of endless books and revisionist histories and revisionist science books; all of it describing this completely imaginary world." Blogger Velveteen Rabbi, also known as Rachel Barenblat, explains the importance of not just the blogosphere, but of religiously progressive blogs and how they can impact lives, religions and even elections. Rachel is heading up a Progressive Faith Blog Conference with more than 30 bloggers next week to discuss the best way to spread their message.

Madeline Albright on State of Belief

Washington July 20 – On this Sunday’s "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy talks with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about the current crisis in the Middle East, religion’s role in that conflict, and more broadly about religion’s power in shaping world affairs and American foreign policy.  Albright is the author of The Mighty and the Almighty, a book that explores the influence of the radical religious right and condemns those who use faith to create divisions or to gain power.

Welton and Madeleine Albright Discuss the Use of God to Justify Power

Washington, July 21  On this Sunday's "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation's show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy talks with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about, religion's role in the current crisis in the Middle East, and more broadly about religion's power in shaping world affairs and American foreign policy. Welton is also joined by former Congressman Jim Greenwood to discuss President Bush's veto of the stem cell bill. Albright is the author of The Mighty and the Almighty, a book that explores the influence of the radical religious right and condemns those who use faith to create divisions or to gain power. Albright tells Welton "one of the truly saddest things for me is how democracy is now perceived, which is something that is imposed by an occupation army rather than something that is supported from a grassroots effort". When asked how the current Administration is dealing with international politics, Albright says, "here has been an approach that divided the world into good and evil, but who [is America] to decide what evil is." President Bush vetoed his first bill this week when the U.S. Senate passed stem cell research legislation. Welton discusses the issue with Republican former Congressman Jim Greenwood. Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, says scientists and most citizens understand the potential of stem cell research, and "Congress ought to be about allowing individuals to make decisions for themselves and not imposing their own religious views on the nation as a whole."