Press Releases

Interfaith Alliance Criticizes the Use of a House of Worship As a Backdrop for Signing the DC Marriage Equality Bill

Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, issued the following statement today in response to Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s decision to use All Souls Unitarian Church as the backdrop for signing the city’s historic marriage equality bill. Rev. Gaddy is the author of Same Gender Marriage and Religious Freedom: A Call to Quiet Conversations and Public Debates.

My elation over the signing of Washington D.C.’s marriage equality bill was weakened only by the announcement that the ceremony would take place in a house of worship. The enactment of this legislation is an important step forward for the LGBT community and the rights of all Americans.  It is one for which the Mayor and city council should be commended.

By holding the signing ceremony at a house of worship, the Fenty Administration and All Souls Church sent the dangerous signal that one set of religious beliefs trump another and that marriage is strictly a religious act. In reality, we should move the debate on marriage equality out of the realm of religion and scripture and toward a discussion based on the U.S. Constitution.

Faith is not a political tool. And houses of worship are not appropriate backdrops for government actions. We risk weakening the vitality of religion and the integrity of government when we fail to respect the boundaries between the two.
 

 

Interfaith Alliance Statement on The Shooting at Fort Hood

Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, issued the following statement today following the tragic shooting at Fort Hood.

Yesterday’s shooting at Fort Hood is a national tragedy of unspeakable proportions. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, along with their families and friends. In the coming days we should all take a moment to reflect on the enormous sacrifice the men and women who serve in our armed forces make on our behalf everyday.
 

Interfaith Alliance Statement on the Passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Washington, DC - Interfaith Alliance President, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, issued the following statement today celebrating the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act’s successful passage by both houses of Congress:

With dramatic unanimity the sacred scriptures of diverse religious traditions vehemently condemn hate.  Hate is neither a religious nor an American value.  These are among the reasons why Interfaith Alliance today celebrates the passage of substantive hate crimes prevention legislation.  Not only will this new law provide much-needed help for law enforcement officials and offer long-sought-for protection to vulnerable groups threatened by hate-motivated violence, it will offer a modicum of comfort to all who have lost loved ones because of hate crimes.  Passage of this hate crime legislation represents a civil act consistent with the moral foundations of our nation and all of the religious traditions which are at home within it. 

Fidelity to the prophetic core of our religions and our American values means that we cannot condemn hate, only to follow it with passivity in the face of behavior that destroys the lives of any group of our fellow citizens.  For over a decade, Interfaith Alliance has fought tirelessly to secure the crucial protections provided in this legislation.  We urge President Obama to sign the act into law without delay. 

To be sure, no law alone can remove hatred from our midst.  But in an America increasingly rife with uncivil and narrow-minded bickering, this new law can serve as a ringing pronouncement of our democracy’s common values – namely, that we utterly reject hate violence and embrace an America in which diverse people are safe as well as free.


Clergy and Faith Leaders Call for Civility

Washington, DC – A group of prominent faith leaders brought together by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance, has released an open letter to other religious leaders, politicians, and pundits calling for civility in public debate and to specifically refrain from using inappropriate references to the Holocaust and Nazis. A copy of the letter along with its signers follows.

An open letter to religious leaders, politicians, pundits and the public:

In the last month, we have seen an alarming number of public figures use the Nazis and the Holocaust as metaphors in public debate on issues critical to this country. This development is but the most vile example of the disturbing language that has insinuated itself into our national dialogue. Examples of this divisive and ill-spirited rhetoric include:

•    Richard Land, a leader and spokesperson in the Southern Baptist Convention compared some of the proposed health care reforms to ”what the Nazis did.” Actually, Land bestowed a “Joseph Mengele Award” on Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the president's chief health care adviser. After strong criticism, Dr. Land apologized for his comments, though he offered no apology to Dr. Emanuel.
•    The Republican National Committee was asked to take down a link to a YouTube video parody where subtitles in a movie portraying Hitler were doctored to convey the impression that Hitler was criticizing the Democrats’ health care proposals.
•    Fox News host Glenn Beck compared the treatment of Fox News by the Obama Administration to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.  
•    Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) referred to the failure to reform the U.S. health care system as a “holocaust.” Grayson later apologized stating that he in no way meant to minimize the Holocaust. 

The Holocaust was a tragic event in which the Nazis systematically murdered six million Jews. The Nazi regime that perpetrated this mass genocide was one of the most horrific in world history. There is no place in civil debate for the use of these types of metaphors.  Perpetrators of such language harm rather than help both the integrity of the democratic process and the credibility of religious commentary.

We, the undersigned faith leaders, call on our colleagues in all religious communities as well as elected leaders, commentators, pundits and others engaged in public debate to refrain specifically from using inappropriate Nazi and Holocaust references and, generally, to help restore civility to our national dialogue.

Sincerely,

The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
President, Interfaith Alliance

Imam Mahdi Bray
Executive Director, Muslim American Society Freedom

Rev. Dr. David Currie
Texas Baptist Denominational Leader, Retired

The Right Reverend Jane Holmes Dixon
Former Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Rabbi David Gelfand
Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of the City of New York

Rev. Galen Guengerich
Senior Minister, All Souls Unitarian Church

Dr. Derrick Harkins
Senior Pastor, Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Maureen McCormack, SL
Sisters of Loretto

Rabbi Jack Moline
Rabbi of Agudas Achim Congregation

Rev. Peter Morales
President, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

Rev. Meg Riley
Director, Advocacy and Witness Programs, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

The Rev. Dr. Daniel Rosemergy
Minister, Greater Nashville Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Rabbi David Saperstein
Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed,
National Director, Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America

The Rev. Dr. Herbert D. Valentine
Founding President, Interfaith Alliance