Press Releases

Religious and Ethnic Intolerance in Politics

New York, August 18 - On this Sunday’s "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy focuses in on religious and ethnic intolerance within the political arena, sitting down with Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, author of “Foxes in the Henhouse: How the Republicans Stole the South and the Heartland, and What the Democrats Must Do to Run ‘em Out,” to discuss Virginia Senator George Allen’s recent “macaca” comment and President Bush’s use of the term “Islamic Fascists.”

 

Mudcat states that "politics is about man's will. God's will is about His will; to bring Him into this political controversy, to unite these people who want to see their church from space is blasphemy."

 

Welton also speaks with United Church of Christ minister Robin Meyers, author of "Why the Christian Right is Wrong: A Minister's Manifesto for Taking Back Your Faith, Your Flag, Your Future," on the crossing of politics and religion. Rev. Meyers asserts that "a lot of people fell asleep in the Church, and allowed the gospel to be hijacked by people with a political agenda."

 

Plus, don’t miss the man behind the Church of Jon Stewart.

State of Belief Special Edition: Katrina, One Year Later

New York, August 24 - On this Sunday’s special edition of "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy revisits Katrina, one year later. Welton discusses the progress – and missteps – that have occurred in the recovery process, and explores the role that faith has played throughout it all.

 

Welton speaks with Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO of PolicyLink, an organization that has been leading the rebuilding efforts through the past year. Blackwell explains that Katrina recovery should play a major role in the upcoming elections, and that "politicians should be talking about how resources are going to be available for roads, parks and schools -- the things people need to feel welcomed back and successful in their communities."

 

Tom Woodruff, of the Service Employees International Union, talks to Welton about their New Orleans Worker Resource Center, and we hear from experts at the recent Katrina Justice Hearings.

 

Plus, Welton discusses the ways in which ordinary citizens from across the country can continue to help Katrina recovery, one year later.

“Jesus Camp”: Turning Kids into Christian Soldiers

(Washington, D.C.) – On this Sunday’s "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy takes a look at the new film “Jesus Camp,” a documentary about an evangelical Christian summer camp for children in Devils Lake, North Dakota. 

 

But this is no ordinary Bible camp – here, campers perform spiritual war dances and learn how to bless a cardboard cut out of President Bush. The mission of this camp is to teach kids to become dedicated Christian soldiers in "God's army." The film’s directors, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, join Welton to discuss the film, which is now playing in New York and will be released nationwide later this fall.

Welton considers the implications of the film with Mike Papantonio, co-host of the Air America Radio show, Ring of Fire.  Papantonio concludes that the camp crosses the dangerous line between religious education and political indoctrination.  “When you look at everything going on in this administration, you have to ask, ‘How can the leaders of this camp be telling those kids that President Bush is God’s anointed savior for our country?,’” he says.

 

In his “Preaching to the Choir” segment, Welton observes, “Knowing the difference between indoctrination and education of young people is crucial, especially in the realms of religion and politics.  The results can vary as widely and dramatically as a person who grows up to live as the puppet of a particular religious ideology – at the greatest extreme, becoming a suicide bomber – or a person who develops a capacity for critical thinking that appreciates questions as well as answers and refuses to place faith in conflict with honest inquiry any more than with personal compassion.”

 

Plus, Welton highlights a more pluralistic summer camp, the Interfaith Alliance’s own LEADD camp.  The week-long program, which stands for Leadership Education Advancing Democracy and Diversity, empowers high school students to become informed and engaged citizens in our religiously diverse nation.  Welton states, “I want to argue vociferously for a form of religious education aimed at the development of a mature person who can think and act for herself or himself about religion, a young person who sees religious actions not as some form of warrior behavior, but as evidence of responsible engagement with and in a civil society.”

House Vote Reduces First Amendment to Second Class Status

(Washington, D.C.) Today the House of Representatives scheduled a vote on H.R. 2679, the “Public Expression of Religion Act.”  The bill would eliminate damages and awards of attorneys’ fees for individuals or groups in successful cases brought to ensure their constitutional rights under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  This bill would limit long-standing remedies available under civil rights law, 42 U.S.C. 1988.

The Interfaith Alliance President, the Reverend C. Welton Gaddy today issued the following statement:

“The Public Expression of Religion Act is an attack on the religious freedoms guaranteed to every American by the Constitution.  If it passes, the House of Representatives will have closed the courthouse doors to ordinary Americans, including members of religious minorities, who seek the protection of their constitutional rights.  This bill is another example of election-year tactics designed to manipulate religion for partisan political gain.  We call on the Senate and President Bush to stop this bill and end the pandering to the Religious Right.

“We cannot allow Congress to open the door to picking and choosing which constitutional rights it wants to protect and which ones it wants to devalue.  What is next?  Can we imagine a day when citizens cannot go to court to protect their free speech rights?

“Religious expression is not threatened by the enforcement of the Establishment Clause, but is protected by it.  The only way to ensure free exercise of all religious faiths is if ordinary citizens can raise challenges when governments try to impose one particular religious viewpoint on the people.  Religious freedom as guaranteed by the First Amendment includes both the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause.  One without the other would render religious freedom a hollow phrase.”