Press Releases

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.

Interfaith Alliance Praises Court Decision Striking Down Prop 8

WASHINGTON, DC – The Interfaith Alliance today applauded the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s decision to strike down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional under the due process and equal protection clauses. The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, a practicing Baptist minister and President of Interfaith Alliance issued the following statement:

 

Today’s ruling overturning Proposition 8 is a promising step for religious freedom and for marriage equality, recognizing the important distinctions between civil marriage and religious marriage. Though the decision, handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, only affects the law in that state, the implications of this high-profile case are likely to be long-lasting and widespread.

 

We are pleased to see that Judge Vaughn Walker was sensitive to the concerns of people of faith who oppose same-gender marriage on religious grounds but that he recognized, as do we, that their religious freedom will not be impacted by the legalization of same-gender marriage. America’s diverse religious landscape leaves room for a variety of theological perspectives on same-gender marriage; indeed, some faiths enthusiastically support it and others vehemently oppose it. Under this ruling, as with any constitutionally-based marriage equality law, no religion would ever be required to condone same-gender marriage, and no member of the clergy would ever be required to perform a wedding ceremony not in accordance with his or her religious beliefs.

 

But in a country that guarantees both religious freedom and “justice for all,” the laws of our land must be based on what is fair and equal, not simply on the religious views of any faith community. Today’s ruling leaves religious marriage untouched while allowing same-gender couples access to an important right currently enjoyed only by heterosexual couples – the right to civil marriage recognized under law.

 

Though supporters of Proposition 8 have promised to appeal the ruling, we hope this decision will be upheld, enshrining marriage equality for same-gender couples in the State of California – and paving the way for the rest of the country to follow its lead.

Interfaith Alliance Expresses Disappointment in ADL Statement on Islamic Center

Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, expressed his disappointment today about a statement released by the Anti-Defamation League on the proposed Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan near the site of Ground Zero.

It was with a great deal of sorrow that I read the carefully constructed statement from the Anti-Defamation League on the proposed mosque in lower Manhattan. As an organization that for nearly 100 years has helped set the standard for fighting defamation and securing justice and fair treatment for all, it is disappointing to see the ADL arrived at this conclusion.

The Interfaith Alliance’s work is driven by the fundamental principle that protecting religious freedom is most critical in times of crisis. And those who claim to defend religious freedom can not turn their back on it when faced with controversy. It is unfair to prejudge the impact this center can have on reconciliation before it is even built. And we must remember that just because someone prays in a mosque, that does not make them any less of a citizen than you or me.

We agree with the ADL that there is a need for transparency about who is funding the effort to build this Islamic center. At the same time, we should also ask who is funding the attacks against the construction of the center.

We must never bow to bigotry within the US, just as we would never bow to tyranny from the outside.