Press Releases

North Carolina churches being pushed around by Republican Party

Washington, February 17 – The Interfaith Alliance is outraged the North Carolina state Republican Party office is asking religious leaders for their church directories. The request was sent by email Thursday and several area pastors have already said they will not divulge their lists, citing inappropriate entanglement of partisan politics and religion.

 

In response to this alarming news, Rev. Welton Gaddy, President of The Interfaith Alliance and Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana, released the following statement:

 

“As the pastor of a local congregation, if I found out that my church membership directory was shared with a campaign or political party, I would begin immediate legal action against the campaign or political party. It's a serious mistake to consider worshipers in religious institutions as just another bloc of voters like farmers, labor unions, and corporate executives. 

 

“Collecting church directories intrudes on the integrity of houses of worship and compromises them by classifying them as political organizing tools. I am fearful that initiatives like this by any of the political parties will lure religious organizations and religious leaders into dangerous, unconstitutional territory.  Even worse, proponents of such list-gathering are leading religious leaders into the temptation of forfeiting the prophetic voice of religion.

 

“Furthermore, the national GOP says the collection of church directories is for voter registration efforts. No one bought that defense during the 2004 elections and we won’t buy it in 2006 either. The role of religion and values in the 2004 election was that of a political strategy employed to achieve a political goal – winning an election – which there is no reason to believe that has changed.”

Interfaith Alliance Responds to New IRS Report on Partisan Politics in Houses of Worship

Washington, February 24– In response to the Internal Revenue Service report released today, which examines partisan political activity by tax-exempt organizations during the 2004 election cycle and lays out new guidelines and procedures for the 2006 elections identifying which types of political activities might jeopardize the tax-exempt status of houses of worship, The Interfaith Alliance released the following comments by the Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, leader of the interfaith movement’s national advocacy voice.

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“In recent elections, we have witnessed and alerted Americans to the increased manipulation of religion by political groups for partisan political purposes and manipulation of government by religious groups for sectarian purposes,” Gaddy said.

“These activities threaten the sanctity of religion and damage the integrity of our democracy.

 

“Religious leaders should speak to moral issues in a non-partisan manner, not attempt to control government or influence who is elected.  They must not use their freedom of speech to divide their congregations -- or America -- with partisan political activity. Houses of worship have a vital role to play at election time, informing and educating on issues. It is good to urge congregants to vote, however, they must not be told how to vote. 

 

Noting that the IRS initiative deals with both prevention and enforcement, Gaddy said, “We hope that the new procedures will allow the IRS to respond more quickly to alleged infractions and to better educate and inform houses of worship in advance about how to stay in compliance with the law and to ensure they don’t lose their tax-exempt status.”

 

IRS press release: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=154780,00.html

Missouri Resolution Endorsing Christianity Divisive And Un-American

(Washington, DC) – In response to the Missouri State Legislature’s Resolution (HCR 13) endorsing Christianity as the state’s official religion, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of The Interfaith Alliance released the following statement:

“This Resolution is not about religion.  It’s about politics.  In grade school, we are taught that in matters of faith, government must not take sides.  This seems to have been lost on the sponsors of this Resolution. Surely those who have read their history know that government’s endorsement of religion is a death knell to religious liberty.  They are doing no service to Christianity or to the inter-religious community of this nation.

“When reading the Missouri State Legislature Resolution endorsing Christianity as the state’s official religion, it’s hard to suppress the images and feelings I once knew growing up in the segregated South.  The Civil Rights movement began because this country had sent a message to those who were different, that they didn’t belong.  Decades earlier, our country did the same thing in denying women the right to vote.  Today, Missouri legislators are denying equal rights and opportunities to their own residents whose religious beliefs and practices are different from those of the majority.  No citizen’s rights or opportunities should ever depend on their, or anyone else’s, religious beliefs or practices, period.

“When will we finally heed history’s lessons that denying Americans their basic rights, because they are considered different is un-American? Missouri is the ‘Show Me’ state and for the sake of present and future generations, I urge the residents of this great state to show the rest of the country they will not tolerate such blatant prejudice on the part of those they chose to represent them.  Tell the Christian Right, ‘You’re not going to steal our government; you do not speak for me.’  At the end of the day, if there is not freedom from the imposition of religion, there is no religious freedom.”

LINK TO RESOLUTION
http://www.house.mo.gov/bills061/biltxt/intro/HCR0013I.htm

Nationalism co-opts religion, insanity takes hold: Missouri’s state religion, ‘Religious virgins’ in South Dakota, Kentucky’s religious test for public office, faith-based national security

Washington, March 10 – This Sunday on "State of Belief," best-selling author Chris Hedges talks with the Rev. Welton Gaddy about the dangerous intersection of religion and nationalism in America. In his weekly review of religion in the news, Welton declares that insanity has taken hold across the nation.

 

Also on the show:

-          Patty and Terry Laban, creators of the nationally syndicated comic strip Edge City, say that incorporating their faith into the comic strip broadened their audience;

-          The Rev. Tim Carson, Senior Minister of Webster Groves Christian Church in St Louis expresses alarm at Missouri’s attempt to establish Christianity as the official state religion; and

-          Commentary from the Rev. Dr. Joseph C. Hough, Jr., president of Union Theological Seminary.

 

“There’s no other way to put it: insanity takes hold across the nation,” Welton says. “Missouri’s trying to establish a state religion; Kentucky’s attempting a religious test for public office; and South Dakota is banning abortion -- except for ‘religious virgins,’ of course.”

 

Hedges tells Welton that the religious right is similar to "the intolerant and totalitarian movements I've covered in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe….The religious right in this country is really about the destruction of reality-based media....The hard right wants the destruction of institutions that can engage in self-criticism."

 

A religion scholar, war correspondent, and Harvard Divinity School graduate, Hedges is the author of “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” and “Losing Moses on the Freeway.”

Welton also comments on:

-          Jerry Falwell and Gary Bauer now allowing Jews to enter Heaven;

-          President Bush taking another whack at the wall separating religion and government;

-          California’s Cardinal Mahony vowing to defy the law if Congress requires houses of worship to deny help to anyone lacking government documentation.