Press Releases

Interfaith Alliance Statement on Recent Comments by S.C. Sen. Jake Knotts

For Immediate Release

June 4, 2010

 

 

Interfaith Alliance Statement on Recent Comments by S.C. Sen. Jake Knotts

 

 

Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement today condemning a statement by South Carolina Sen. Jake Knotts in which he referred to Lexington Rep. Nikki Haley, an Indian-American gubernatorial candidate, and President Barack Obama as “ragheads.”

 

Sen. Jake Knotts demonstrated the poorest of judgment when he questioned Rep. Nikki Haley’s religion and called her, along with President Barack Obama, a “raghead.”  Such comments are deplorable, insensitive and have no place in the American political lexicon.  Unfortunately, his recent halfhearted apology only reaffirms his lack of understanding regarding the nature of his comments.  He should issue an immediate and clearer apology to Rep. Haley and all citizens of South Carolina.

 

In our country, there is no “religious test” for assuming any public office at any level.  The fact that Rep. Nikki Haley is Indian-American is not a relevant criteria in judging her ability to serve as governor of South Carolina.  Calling her religion into question, as Sen. Knotts continued to do in his apology, is wrong enough – using the language he did is repulsive and demonstrates his own lack of knowledge about how to conduct himself as a public servant.

 

Voters of course have the right to know what role a candidate’s faith will play in creating public policy and whether or not a candidate will respect the boundaries between religion and government.  But the Constitution clearly prohibits using a candidate’s religious convictions as a qualification for – or disqualification from – public office. 

 

I urge candidates in all electoral campaigns to maintain civility and leave religious criteria out of the discussion as they debate the issues that affect and impact voters.

 

 

 

 

 

Interfaith Alliance Statement on the Texas State Board of Education Vote Approving New Social Studies Standards

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.
 

Rev. Gaddy writes to AL Gov. candidates with concerns about the role of religion in their campaigns

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.

Respectfully,
Welton Gaddy
C. Welton Gaddy

 

Interfaith Alliance has released a statment correcting the record on Roy Moore. Click here to read the statement.

Statement of Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy On the Nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court

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.