Press Releases

Washington Post Article Illustrates Deep Problems With 'Faith Based' Initiative

Washington, DC – A group of religious and civil rights advocacy organizations issued the following response to today’s Washington Post article that details how the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives has been turned into a partisan political tool by the Administration to garner votes.

The Post article, “Grants Flow To Bush Allies On Social Issues; Federal Programs Direct At Least $157 Million,” shows why we have been sounding a warning bell for more than five years now. In 2001, we, along with many ecumenical and faith-based organizations, opposed certain key provisions of the “faith-based” initiative. One of our many concerns was the potential for political favoritism and abuse that could arise when houses of worship receive government funds to finance social services ministries in their communities. This article documents the diversion of public funds to religious and political groups that are allies of the administration.

In the article, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), a prominent conservative and one time supporter of the faith-based initiative, points out that the initiative has “gone political” and it is about time people are starting to recognize this. He’s right. We believe, however, that warning signs have long been evident.

The White House’s initiative, as currently configured, is about shifting social-service money to favored organizations rather than increasing it to meet the nation’s growing needs. We are alarmed that funds are being cut from established organizations with successful track records. We are concerned that responsibility for the poor is being foisted on religious charities, some of whom have little or no experience in tackling pressing issues and treating serious conditions.

We ask this administration to look at the larger picture: the government should be a compassionate government concerned about providing the integrity and civil rights of all its citizens, and honor the distinct roles of religion and government.

Participating organizations include: The Interfaith Alliance, the Baptist Joint Committee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, People for the American Way, Unitarian Universalist Association, Texas Freedom Network and the National Council of Jewish Women.

This Sunday's State of Belief Radio: Special Edition

Washington, March 24 – On this Sunday’s "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy sits down with religious leaders from several faith traditions to examine the controversial intersection of religion and sexual orientation.

 

Welton is joined in the studio by Rabbi Jack Moline, rabbi of Agudas Achim congregation of Alexandria, Virginia, Rev. Leonard Jackson, Associate Minister at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, and Bishop Yvette Flunder, founder and senior pastor of the Ark of Refuge in San Francisco. The four leaders were on a panel this week in San Francisco to talk about sexual orientation and marriage and the role religion plays in the debate.

 

"We have to open doors and overcome roadblocks,” Welton says. “We have to forge a common ground with some whom most of us probably would not have anything to do with.”

 

We also hear from Reverend Susan Russell, Senior Associate for Parish Life at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California, on how same-sex marriage can strengthen the institution of marriage – and the institutions of democracy.

 

Welton also shares highlights of The Interfaith Alliance’s National Leadership Gathering held earlier this month in Nashville, TN. He plays a montage of clips including John Siegenthaler who reminds us of the young men and women who risked everything for the struggle and Imam Mahdi Bray warned us of the dangers of America straying from its democratic principles. 

Rev. Welton Gaddy - Public Enemy Number One!

Washington, March 30 – On this Sunday’s "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, host Rev. Welton Gaddy talks with photographer Jose Camilo Vergara about the churches of the urban poor; tells listeners how the so-called "War on Christians" has branded him America's public enemy number one; and agrees - gasp! - with Bill O'Reilly!

Welton also explores U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's recent words -- and gestures -- with David Cole, law professor at Georgetown University and Legal Affairs correspondent for The Nation.

Reverend Debra Haffner, Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, talks about how organized religion has contributed to sexual confusion in America -- and the growing religious movement to affirm sexuality.  And a New Jersey councilman ponders what one does when your religion and your town mandate different days of rest.

Jose Camilo Vergara's latest collection, How the Other Half Worships, features over 300 photographs of churches, pastors and congregants in some of America's poorest urban neighborhoods.  Vergara tells Welton what he has learned about religion in America, and the ties that link human beings: "The religion I was seeing was a much more emotional religion.  People were not afraid to come right up and say, 'Thank God I have a driver's license!  Thank God my son got out of jail!"

Welton discusses his strong feelings "related to all this talk about Christian persecution.  I feel my American values are under attack, not my Christian values... The faith I know has no fear of living in a secular society.  It has no difficulty pledging allegiance to a government that treats all religions equally and also respects those who hold to no religion at all.  I am wary of people who would sacrifice the very freedom that gives them the right to sound ludicrous complaints, who would compromise the essence of democracy, to bring the whole nation in line with their vision."

The Faith Community Loses a Patriot, the Administration forgets about our poor and Welton's Curch Speaks Up!

Washington, April 14  On this Sunday's "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation's show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy talks about the passing of Rev. William Coffin, chats with Rev. Jim Forbes about the nations budget and listens members of his own congregation in Louisiana talk about what it means to be interfaith. Welton along with the entire faith community mourns the passing of Rev. William Sloane Coffin, a visionary and activist in the faith community. Cofin was a lifelong warrior for peace and a witness for justice and equal rights for all. He served as Senior Minister at The Riverside Church and as Yale University Chaplain. "He was as comfortable in a march as in a pulpit," Gaddy says, "as energized by protest as by advocacy, as fulfilled by his poetry as by his politics. This man was as deeply sensitive personally as he was profoundly courageous publicly. Though firmly a Christian, Bill Coffin embraced with appreciation the broadest expanse of religious traditions." Rev. Forbes is the first African-American minister to serve at The Riverside Church in New York. The Riverside Church is an interdenominational, interracial, and international church built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1927 with more than 2,400 members. Welton asks Rev. Forbes why the Administration is having problems with the budget and who is at risk because of government cutbacks. "When the nation has difficulty," Forbes says, "they balance the budget on the backs of the poor. Something ought to be done about that." Members of Welton's congregation at Northminster Church explain what it was like building a progressive church in a conservative community and how important it is to build bridges between the religious groups within the community.