Winter Newsletter 2011 Winter Newsletter 2011
- Written by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
It’s hard to believe that another year has almost passed. It seems that just yesterday I was writing to you about Interfaith Alliance’s priorities for 2011 – important work that would not have been possible without the steadfast support of activists and members like you. Well aware of that reality, as I prepare to hang a new calendar, I can’t help but reflect on all that we have accomplished this year together.
Together, we confronted the hateful rhetoric of the Religious Right…stood up to bullying in our children’s schools…challenged religious discrimination in hiring…countered anti-Muslim bigotry…and united thousands of people from diverse faith traditions worldwide through Faith Shared. It’s been a busy year…and I am very proud – and incredibly thankful – for everything that you have helped us accomplish.
As you know, the presidential primaries are now only a few weeks away…and the misuse of religion for personal political gain has never been so deliberate and so commonplace as in the early months of various campaigns. Preventing this abuse of religion is at the core of our work – and for this reason, our final e-newsletter of 2011 highlights our many efforts to protect faith and freedom on the campaign trail.
You will also read about our ongoing efforts to counter anti-Muslim bigotry, the latest from Sate of Belief Radio and highlights from our 14th Annual Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award Gala. I hope that you enjoy reading our e-newsletter…and hope that our messages encourage you to continue to stand with us as 2012 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for religious freedom in America – but we will not be detoured.
Interfaith Alliance has confronted many challenges and celebrated many successes in 2011 – and standing together, I know we’ll celebrate even more victories for religious freedom in the new year. Thank you for everything you do.
- Written by Connie Ryan Terrell, Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
The misuse of religion for personal political gain is nothing new to the American electoral process, but we’ve never seen religion misused so deliberately so early, as we have this campaign season...and it must stop. That’s why Rev. Gaddy joined me on a road trip through Iowa a few weeks ago…and we were busy!
On November 30, Rev. Gaddy spoke to a large crowd of students and community members at Coe College in Cedar Rapids about the dangers that our country faces as politics and religion become increasingly intertwined. The next day, he visited Des Moines to participate in a public forum on the same issue at Tifereth Israel Synagogue.
In his speech entitled, “But God said I could be President! Is God confused or are we?” Rev. Gaddy skillfully wove his message about the damage candidates do to religion and politics when they tout their religious credentials and use their “God talk” rather than respecting the First Amendment and focusing on the pressing issues of the nation.
- Written by Ray Kirstein
It’s been a busy couple of months at State of Belief Radio. Unfortunately, some of that has to do with the unprecedented recklessness with which this year’s political campaigns have unreservedly and unrelentingly leaned on religious themes in promoting their candidates. Uniquely positioned to bring some rational discussion to this arena, Rev. Gaddy has – week after week – addressed these attempts to crassly leverage voters’ religious convictions for political advantage with insightful guests from the worlds of journalism and academia, as well as activists and faith leaders.
We were proud to broadcast from Des Moines, Iowa, early in December, providing some personal perspectives from Rev. Gaddy and several local guests on the state that is ground zero for the primary season. Earlier in the year, listeners heard shows from the Capital Rotunda in Washington, D.C., during a demonstration for economic justice, and even Vietnam, as Rev. Gaddy and a distinguished panel of guests discussed the moral implications of the still-lingering effects of the wartime use of Agent Orange by the U.S. military.
- Written by Arielle Gingold
If you’ve read our recent e-newsletters and other email correspondence, you’ve probably picked up on a pattern: The suspicion of, lack of knowledge about and bigotry toward the American Muslim community is one of the biggest religious freedom issues our nation is facing today. We see this in the irrational panic over the fictional “creeping Shariah threat” to our Constitution; in the struggle some Muslim communities go through to simply build a house of worship; and in Congressional hearings that paint Muslim Americans as posing homegrown terrorism threats.
Just this month, the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a joint hearing on “Homegrown Terrorism: The Threat to Military Communities inside the United States.” While such a hearing might sound innocuous, just like the other hearings chaired by Rep. Peter King of New York this year, this one focused largely on the threat of “radicalized” Muslims. In testimony submitted for the official hearing record, Rev. Gaddy pointed out the myriad reasons these hearings are bad for religious freedom. And it seems that there is no end in sight. Rep. King has said he will continue the hearings next year, focusing on whether “certain mosques” are being used to “radicalize” Muslims in the U.S.
- Written by Samantha Friedman
November 13, 2011, proved to be a landmark evening for Interfaith Alliance, as together, we celebrated our accomplishments of the past year and looked toward the challenges and opportunities of a new year. As Rev. Gaddy said when he opened the evening, “Tonight is a celebration within, not an escape from, the climate in which we live. Your support for our issues is crucial.”
Hundreds of guests gathered at the Prince George Ballroom in New York to support Interfaith Alliance’s many successes of 2011, to listen to inspiring stories from Rev. Gaddy, Donna Red Wing and singer-songwriter Chely Wright, to celebrate the professional contributions to religious freedom by our honorees Jim Lehrer and the Rt. Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon, and to hear remarks from several of our dedicated board members.
- Written by Jay Keller
We are currently accepting applications for high school students (grades 9 through 12) in the greater Boston area interested in American history and politics, interfaith dialogue and religious liberty issues to attend our Boston LEADD January 27–29.
Students are invited to apply for the weekend-long opportunity, which will be held at the Friendly Crossways Retreat Center at 247 Littleton Country Road in Harvard. The program is limited to 28 students. The cost per student is $150.
- Written by Administrator
The end of the year provides a great opportunity for supporters to make meaningful gifts to their favorite charities. Members and activists are compelled by the spirit of giving of the holidays and often further encouraged by the ability to have a final positive impact through their yearly taxes.
Regardless of the motivation behind giving, we greatly appreciate our supporters thinking of us during this busy time of year…as end of year gifts play an integral role as we plan for the work that lies ahead in 2012.
Below are two other common ways to make a year-end gift that will have an immediate impact:
- Make a gift in honor or in memory of a loved one during the holiday season; or
Donate appreciated stock and make a valuable gift that provides more benefit to us than it originally cost you.
For some, the year-end also provides an opportunity to plan for future giving. Here are two great ways to help protect faith and freedom well into the future:
- Become a Torchbearer and donate automatically each month…it’s the greenest and easiest way to give; or
- Include a charitable bequest in your will and create a legacy that will help us continue our critical work in the years to come.
We hope that you enjoyed reading our final eNewsletter of 2011…and hope that we have encouraged you to continue to stand with us. Your activism and support is the backbone of all of our important work – and our work is far from over. But standing together, we’ll continue to protect faith and freedom in America…in 2012 and beyond.