Sep 17 2014
Washington – Following today’s announcement that the U.S. Air Force has revised its policy to allow service-members to omit the phrase “So help me God” from its required oath after an air man was denied re-enlistment several weeks ago, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance, released the following statement:
“I applaud the Air Force’s decision to revise its policy requiring service-members to say the words ‘so help me God’ in the oath they are obligating to take in order to serve. Not to do so would have been to continue a discriminatory practice in direct contradiction to the religious freedom of the men and women in the armed services. We regularly ask service members to make great sacrifices on behalf of our country; we dare not also ask them to sacrifice their own right to affirm their personal beliefs.
It should be of no consequence that the airman at the center of this policy change was secular. Compliant with the First Amendment to our Constitution, the free-exercise rights of secular service-members must be safeguarded just as surely as the rights of Christians and Jews, Muslims and Sikhs. Time and time again the secular community has proven to be among our staunchest allies in the struggle for religious freedom in America. People who enjoy freedom in their practice of faith must readily rise together to defend the rights of the growing number of Americans who claim no faith.
While I celebrate the Air Force’s decision today, I am disheartened that this policy existed in the first place and that it took so long to change. Clearly, all responsible citizens must remain steadfast working to ensure that all service-members are protected by the Constitution they have volunteered to defend."
Interfaith Alliance, Interfaith Alliance Iowa Condemn Rep. Steve King's Remarks About American Muslims
Sep 12 2014
WASHINGTON – Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance, was joined by Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, in condemning offensive remarks by U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa. Yesterday Rep. King claimed on the Deace Show that American mosques are communication centers for ISIS and terrorist organizations and argued “we ought to have people in those mosques watching to see what’s going on.” Interfaith Alliance has been a leading voice against anti-Muslim bigotry and misguided approaches to surveillance of the Muslim community.
“Working to counter terrorism at home and abroad is a necessary goal and critical for American national security, but targeting and denigrating American Muslims will not help accomplish it,” said Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance. “Without a specific and credible threat, the type of surveillance that Congressman King advocates would represent a serious breach of the First Amendment rights every American is entitled to – including Muslims. Worse yet, using precious resources to surveil mosques will only serve as a distraction from real opportunities to root out extremists. The accusations that Rep. King makes only serve to alienate the majority of American Muslims who are a bulwark against extremism.”
Added Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, “The First Amendment protects the rights of all Americans, regardless of faith. The same religious freedom that prevents a minister from being prosecuted for what he or she says from the pulpit prevents the infiltration of mosques by law enforcement without cause. Congressman King owes an apology to the Muslim communities in Iowa – and Iowans of all faiths. He should not take our country’s religious freedom so lightly.”
Interfaith Alliance has long worked for an end to discrimination motivated by religion and to safeguard the Constitution’s promise of religious freedom. Interfaith Alliance co-authored the resource “What is the Truth About American Muslims: Questions and Answers,” with the Religious Freedom Education Project in order to counter misinformation about and misunderstandings of Islam and of the American Muslim community. More recently, Interfaith Alliance drafted an amicus brief in the case Hassan v. City of New York condemning the NYPD’s surveillance of mosques and Muslim community centers as a violation of the First Amendment.
Interfaith Alliance President, Louisianan Minister Calls Marriage Equality Decision Deeply Disappointing
Sep 03 2014
Washington D.C. – Following today’s decision by a federal judge in Louisiana upholding the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance and Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster Church in Monroe, LA, released the following statement:
“Today’s decision by a federal judge upholding the ban on same sex marriage in my home state of Louisiana is deeply disappointing and disturbing, even if not surprising. The national trend has been moving quickly towards a legal consensus for full equality for all people, yet Louisiana once again finds itself standing in the way of fairness and equality.
By continuing to defend and advocate for discriminatory laws, despite the wealth of legal opinions issued on marriage equality over the last year, our state’s leadership remains not only out of sync the rest of the nation, but in contradiction to the Constitution of the United States. Louisianans will not know true religious freedom until every marriage – whether performed in a house of worship or in a secular space – is given full legal recognition. In our nation, by law, marriage is a civil right, not a religious doctrine. Houses of worship are free to deny or accept their blessings and affirmations of any marriage, but religious ideology cannot be used to deny any civil right to other people.
This ruling in Louisiana emphasizes the fact that it is time for the Supreme Court to once and for all provide clarity and certainty on the status of same gender marriage. Members of the LGBT community deserve to have their right to marry affirmed according to the U.S. Constitution regardless of the local opinion of the state in which they happen to live. Having served as a pastor in my community here in Louisiana for 22 years, I have seen the hurt inflicted on families in our state who are denied the right to marry because of their sexual orientation. To delay recognition of this right to all people any longer is to withhold from these families our Constitution’s promise of equal rights and religious freedom.
In my own church in Monroe, Louisiana, we will continue to welcome members of the LGBT community and I will continue to celebrate the reality of their marriages in the eyes of God, even if governmental leaders in our state look away.“
Interfaith Alliance Calls Obama Administration’s New Rules on Contraception the ‘Least Bad’ Outcome in Light of Hobby Lobby Decision
Aug 22 2014
Washington, D.C. – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy released the following statement in response to new rules issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services related to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate:
“The regulations proposed by the Obama Administration are likely the least bad outcome that could be achieved following the mess made by the Supreme Court’s recent decisions on the contraception mandate. The accommodation the administration initially put forward – though already a departure from the more narrowly tailored exemption we urged – was an acceptable measure when it was limited to religious institutions. Broadening it now to include for-profit corporations sets a dangerous precedent by allowing an ever-expanding group of businesses to wrap themselves in the cloak of religion in order to opt out of the rule of law.”
“While the administration’s action takes a significant step toward protecting the health care of women across the country, let’s be clear that this latest action in no way undoes the broader damage to religious freedom inflicted by the Court’s majority decision in Hobby Lobby. The religious right’s attempt to redefine religious freedom and impose its own point of view on the rest of us, cannot be allowed to continue unopposed.”