Press Releases

Who are Christocrats and what do they want & Al Franken focuses on the Religious Right

Washington, March 17 On this Sunday's "State of Belief," The Interfaith Alliance Foundation's new show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy talks about a new term for Christian fundamentalists, FBI spying and welcomes special guest Al Franken who gives the Religious Right update.

Welton talks with Rabbi James Rudin, author of The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us, about Christocrats and who they are. Rudin uses the term in his new book to describe extreme fundamentalists who seemingly wish to replace the Constitution with Old Testament Biblical law.

"It only takes 2% of a population to change the entire perspective if they are extremely determined, well financed and driven," Rudin says. "This small group has enormous power both political and religious in society today."

Jim Kleissler, Executive Director of The Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, joins Welton to discuss the FBI spying on his center's anti-war protest.

Al Franken channels Pat Robertson as he joins Welton to give this week's religious right update. Tune in to find out who Al has in his crosshairs.

Chuck Currie, host of ChuckCurrie.blogs.com and prominent religious blogger, gives his thoughts on the challenges faced by the progressive religious movement and how bloggers are taking on those challenges.

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."