Press Releases

Evangelical Recruiting Video Violates Constitution

Washington, D.C. – On this Sunday’s “State of Belief,” The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Reverend Welton Gaddy examines the controversy over a promotional video for an evangelical Christian group filmed inside the Pentagon.  Welton is joined by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, president the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and author of With God on Our Side.  The foundation has called on the Department of Defense to investigate whether military regulations about religious proselytizing were violated.

The evangelical organization, Christian Embassy, produced a ten minute video that features uniformed military officers praising the efforts of the Christian Embassy to spread their faith within the military.  Much of the video was filmed inside the Pentagon, and the officers, including three colonels and four generals, appear in uniform.  Nothing indicated that the views expressed by these officers on the video were their own and not the views of the DoD.

“When you have senior members of the United States military doing what they did… it absolutely violates the Constitution as well as several DoD regulations,” says Weinstein. 

Last week, disgraced former Majority Leader Tom DeLay launched his political blog, and the first posting condemned the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for its opposition to the Christian Embassy video.  Weinstein responds angrily to the criticism “Tom Delay is a disgrace to America, a disgrace to the Constitution, and he is a big coward.  I would love to do three rounds with him in an HBO special,” he says. 

Weinstein, a former White House lawyer in the Reagan administration, believes the implications of this incident go far beyond the First Amendment.  “This video is the number one best recruiting tactic for al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah,” he says.  “It strengthens our enemies because it adds a religious dimension to our military operations.”

Also on the show: Dr. William Shulman, president of The Association of Holocaust Organizations, discussing the Holocaust denial conference in Iran; Jay Bakker, son of evangelist Jim Bakker and star of the new documentary series “One Punk under God;” and Sally Turner, religion reporter for The Independent in London, discussing the popularity of the Church of the Jedi Order in the U.K.

Statement of Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy: On U.S. Representative Virgil Goode’s Recent Letter Regarding the Quran and Muslims

Washington, DC – Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, President of The Interfaith Alliance issued the following statement in response to a letter sent by U.S. Representative Virgil Good (R-VA) to John Cruickshank, the chair of a local chapter of the Sierra Club in Virginia:

 

Representative Goode’s comments about the Quran and Muslims are further evidence of the deterioration of tolerance and religious liberty in this country.  It is beyond belief that an elected representative of the American people would so willfully demonize another religion based on nothing but xenophobic nonsense.  It would seem to me that when taking the oath of office, one should place their hand on the book that holds the most meaning for them – be that the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Quran, or the Constitution.

State of Belief Offers an Interfaith Look at the Holiday Season

Washington, D.C. – “State of Belief,” The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, is planning two special episodes to close out 2006 in an interfaith celebration of the winter holiday season.  Also, Rev. Welton Gaddy addresses the recent schism within the Episcopal Church over gay rights.

 

What traditions do Jewish families observe on December 25th?  What is the American Christmas experience like for Muslim immigrants?  How do Buddhists view the Christmas season?  And how do interfaith families deal with the holiday?  Welton poses these questions and others to: Air America Producers Brendan McDonald and Dan Pashman; comedian Marc Maron; Arien Bahawdry, a Muslim immigrant; Dmitri Bakhroushin, a member of the Buddhist Council of New York; and Reverend Jane Holmes Dixon, former Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

 

Also, last Sunday, nine Episcopal parishes in Virginia voted to break away from the Episcopal Church of the U.S.  The parishes are all opposed to the recent consecration of an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in New Hampshire, as well as the blessing of same sex-unions.  The parishes have announced their affiliation with the Episcopal Church of Nigeria.

 

Diana Butler Bass, a church historian and author of Christianity for the Rest of Us, tells Rev. Gaddy this conflict is inevitable.  “Much of the new life in the Episcopal Church is coming out of our more liberal congregations,” she says. “The conservative churches have been sidelined by churches that are more open.”  In fact, Butler Bass indicates, “I have an incredible amount of evidence that the vitality of the Church is growing from the center to the left in the Mainline.”

 

Also on the December 31 show: Rabbi Irwin, author of the book Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life; Dr. Obrey Hendricks, author of the book The Politics of Jesus.

Statement of Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy: On the Death of Former President Gerald R. Ford

With the death of President Gerald Ford, America has lost a model patriot, an exemplary leader, and a vocal advocate of an inclusive democracy. And The Interfaith Alliance has lost a true friend and cooperative supporter.  During a visit with President Ford, he voiced his deep concern about a divided America.  As a man of profound faith himself, President Ford had little patience for those who manipulate religion for partisan political gain. 

 

One memory of President Ford stands out above all others.  I told him that I was collecting the favorite words of high profile people around the world for a book.  The former president knew immediately the words that he wanted to share with me.  President Ford took out his wallet and showed my wife Judy and me a piece of paper that he carried with him at all times—a definition of the word “pardon.”  He explained that the receipt of a pardon indicated that the person pardoned had accepted responsibility for the act pardoned.  That definition was extremely important to Gerald Ford because he felt accepting responsibility was imperative for every person in a democracy.  A few days later, President Ford sent to me what he considered the most important words in his public life: “Our long national nightmare is over.”

 

Our nation will miss Gerald Ford as will I. On this I think all of us can agree that we are better people for having had him among us.  So, we give thanks for his life.