Press Releases

Statement by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy on the Film Obsession

Washington, DC -- When the fundamental freedom, rights, and institutions of our democracy are used in attempts to achieve narrow partisan and/or sectarian purposes, our democracy is threatened. When efforts are made to spread hatred that destroys the possibility of pluralism, to restrict rights in a manner that erodes freedom, and to stoke fears that alter the civil electoral debates that nurture the democratic process, something is bad wrong. And when all of this is done under the guise of religion, the soaring vision of our nation conceived by our founders and elaborated in our constitution must be protected.

Though people have a right to advocate for bigotry and media outlets have a right to sell their delivery services for money, all of us have a responsibility to raise political, moral, and spiritual questions about the mass distribution of ideological materials aimed at pitting Americans against each other, designating a black list of religions in this nation, and inspiring sick minds to spray gas on women and children gathered for worship in a mosque.

The Interfaith Alliance exists to encourage inter-religious cooperation and help demonstrate the positive contributions that religion can make to the nation. Thus we challenge religion-based divisiveness as well as the manipulation of both religion and politics in a manner that weakens the integrity of religion and the vitality of politics. For that reason, we call on Americans to speak out against the propagation of materials aimed at demonizing Muslims or any other religious group for the purpose of advancing a candidate for political office, to challenge the very idea that a person’s religion makes that person less a citizen than others who identify with a majority religion or no religion at all, and to refute the political strategy of stereotyping a religion through lying about its essential nature in order to prey on people’s fears, make one candidate more attractive than another, divide the American public, and advance a singular political point of view.

The assurance of religious liberty and the guarantee of a vital democracy are inextricably linked together in our government. To those whose work erodes both while stirring hatred, let us say, “Enough. Be done!” in order that we may get on with an important election in which all candidates are encouraged to respect religious pluralism and to commit themselves to the protection of a vital democracy.


Interfaith Alliance Condemns Attack on Ohio Mosque and Stands Against Senseless Acts of Violence and Propaganda

Washington, DC – Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance, issued the following statement today following an attack on the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton.

“‘God, help us!’ I prayed as I read the headline: ‘Chemical irritant empties Islamic Society of Greater Dayton's mosque,’” said Rev. Gaddy. “Has it come to this—an assault on innocent children? Scapegoating Muslims as well as denouncing them verbally and attacking them physically has become all too common in this post 9/11 world.”

This attack comes just days after the distribution of the film Obsession- Radical Islam’s War against the West, in Ohio newspapers. News reports state that two unidentified men sprayed chemicals into a room full of children and infants as their mothers gathered together for their Ramadan prayers. 

Rev Gaddy went on to say, “Did the distribution of an anti-Muslim film encourage the Islamaphobia that may have caused the attack? No one can say except the perpetrators, but the fear card is being played in the media, on the Internet and, now, in newspaper inserts across the United States.”

Ironically, this happened in the city that hosted the Dayton Peace Accords.  Those historic agreements ended the Bosnia-Herzegovina war, in an accord that stopped the rape and slaughter of predominantly Muslim civilians.  The Greater Dayton Interfaith Trialogue, formed after the 9/11 attacks, provided a discussion point for local Muslims, Jews and Christians to celebrate what could happen if people and their governments spoke up for peace, and for “others.”  It has held important meetings and workshops designed to bridge the gulf that separates the faith traditions.

Rev. Gaddy concluded by saying, “Interfaith Alliance calls on its members and friends, and all Americans who believe in religious freedom and all those who value religious liberty and equality to send a strong, unified message that we will not tolerate bias motivated violence of any kind.  We need to let the Muslim community of Dayton, and across America, know that we stand with them against terrorism and that we condemn this senseless act of violence and the propaganda that helped to fuel it.”

Religious Leaders Pledge to Keep Endorsements Out of Houses of Worship

September 18, 2008

Pledge Counters Plans by Alliance Defense Fund to Violate Boundaries Between Religion and Government

Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance has launched a nationwide campaign urging clergy to protect the boundaries between religion and government and refrain from endorsing political candidates on behalf of their house of worship. Clergy across the country are being asked to sign a six point pledge to uphold certain standards during the election. This effort stands in stark contrast to the Alliance Defense Fund’s (ADF) plans to have clergy around the country violate federal law by making endorsements from the pulpit on September 28. A copy of the pledge along with a selection of signers can be found here at http://www.interfaithalliance.org/clergypledge

The Interfaith Alliance pledge has already been signed by over 25 major religious leaders spanning both the religious and ideological spectrum. Among the first singers of the pledge was the Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland Church and a leader in the evangelical movement. Other signers include the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church; Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director of the Islamic Society of North America, and Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein, Senior Rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York.

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance and Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana told his own congregation last Sunday: “I cannot stress strongly enough my objections to turning houses of worship into pseudo-precinct nominating conventions.” He went on to say, “I am as concerned about what such a practice in houses of worship would do to the integrity and credibility of religion as about what it would do to weaken the Constitution.” You can listen to or read the complete sermon at http://www.northmin.org/sermons/2008

Rev. Joel Hunter signed the pledge because of the proper role religious leaders should have over their congregants. By endorsing candidates from the pulpit: “You’re almost usurping the spiritual leadership that ought to come only from their personal faith with God." Rev. Hunter also stated, “To somehow subjugate this transcendent God into one political party or another or one candidate or another is, I think, insulting toward God.” Dr. Hunter will be a guest on Rev. Gaddy’s weekly radio show, State of Belief, this weekend.

Last Friday, Interfaith Alliance asked its members across the country to sign the pledge (if they are clergy) or obtain a signature from their religious leader. Over 150 clergy have signed on to the pledge based on that call.

Statement of Rev. Welton Gaddy On the Distribution of the Anti-Muslim Film “Obsession” in Newspapers

September 17, 2008

Washington, DC – The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance released the following statement today in response to the distribution of the anti-Muslim film, “Obsession” in newspapers across the country:

“The Interfaith Alliance is profoundly disturbed to hear that 28 million copies of the three-year old film “Obsession” are being distributed via special advertising inserts into newspapers through September. The film’s targeted distribution is focused on presidential battleground states, and the sponsor, the Clarion Fund a non-profit 501(c)(3), offers no public information on their sources of funding, board of directors, or membership.

“We firmly believe that everyone has a right to an opinion. But when a cynical attempt is made to influence our nation’s presidential election by stoking fear of one religious group we believe the media along with public officials, such as the Federal Election Commission, must establish who is trying to influence our politics through religious bigotry. And, if these individuals are indeed propagating Islamophobia to influence our election, we should establish this well before, not after, the election.”