Nov 26 2013
WASHINGTON – In response to the Supreme Court of the United States granting writs of certiorari in cases challenging the contraceptive coverage requirement of the Affordable Care Act on religious liberty grounds, Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement. Interfaith Alliance has joined friend-of-the-court briefs in these cases at the lower levels of court proceedings.
The issues at stake in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases strike at the core of our national debate over the meaning of religious liberty today. The private, for-profit companies that are challenging the contraception benefit of the Affordable Care Act claim to do so on religious liberty grounds. To be certain, there are times when religious organizations and individuals should receive exemptions and accommodations from certain laws—but that’s not the case here. These exemptions must be appropriately tailored for the sake of lifting an actual substantial burden on religious exercise, not for the sake of denying services and rights to others.
These cases are part of a growing and dangerous trend in our nation in which the meaning of religious freedom is being co-opted, turned into the freedom to use religion to discriminate and deny the rights of our fellow citizens. This could not be further from the true meaning of the religious liberty upon which our nation was founded. The religious liberty that is the foundation of our nation does not mean bosses have the right to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. Nor does this freedom mean that bosses have the right to use their personal religious beliefs to deny their employees necessary medical services.
Those who support or are still on the fence about these exemptions from women's health care coverage, I hope you will ask yourself this: if a religious liberty based justification was being requested by another religion, one with which you disagree, on a different issue, one which you adamantly oppose, would you still favor the exemption?
Nov 20 2013
WASHINGTON – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement celebrating the growing trend of same-gender marriage legalization:
"It is thrilling to watch the wave of states enacting marriage equality laws continue to move across the nation, with Hawaii and Illinois being the latest states to do so. Hawaii and Illinois join fourteen other states and the District of Columbia to grant marriage equality to all couples and to recognize that our civil laws on marriage cannot continue to be based on one theological perspective of who can or should be allowed to marry."
"Though I am pleased legislators take protecting religious freedom seriously, the implicit message that continues to be sent by religious exemptions in such legislation is that the First Amendment does not already provide adequate protections for religious freedom – I believe that it does. Ensuring the civil rights of the LGBT community and respecting religious freedom for all persons are not mutually exclusive. It is a victory for equality and for religious liberty when our leaders act to correct public policies that are supported only by some groups’ religious convictions."
Nov 07 2013
WASHINGTON – Following the historic passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act by the United States Senate for the first time since the bill was introduced in 1994, Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement:
“My how far we have come! Thanks to the monumental work of a bipartisan group of Senators, the persistence of countless advocacy organizations and advocacy of thousands of Americans, our nation today took an historic step forward in our journey towards equality for all people. I am thankful that the Senate has now passed legislation that will prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and I implore Speaker Boehner and the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives to allow ENDA the up or down vote it deserves.
“I am relieved that though many of ENDA’s detractors—and even some of its supporters—continue to raise religious liberty concerns efforts to further expand the religious exemption were defeated. Religious liberty should not be used to justify discrimination and the religious exemption in the law passed today is broad enough to ensure the protection of religious freedom.”
Nov 04 2013
WASHINGTON—Following an historic cloture vote in the United States Senate that all but assures passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), the first time in that chamber since the bill was introduced in 1994, Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement:
"Today’s cloture vote is an historic step forward in our nation’s journey toward equality for all people. While the path to eventual passage by both houses remains long and uncertain, it is significant that 61 members of the United States Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, have come together to allow legislation to move forward that will prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace."
"As debate continues this week, I am sadly confident that many of ENDA’s opponents will wrongly claim that it is a threat to religious liberty. They will try to convince you that ‘religious freedom’ means that they have the right to discriminate against LGBT people in the workplace and deny them the same right to work afforded to others—that is neither fair nor right. I find no place in the First Amendment that justifies such discrimination. Let me be perfectly clear: ENDA is not a threat to religious liberty and religion should never be used to discriminate."
"Even if ENDA never receives a vote in the House of Representatives this Congress, passing the Senate for the first time—with unprecedented bipartisan support, no less—is a monumental step forward."