Ask Welton

What is the biggest threat to religious freedom today? Will hate crimes legislation constrain the prophetic …

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Four Years of LEADD: a Photo Retrospective

leaddsteps.jpgLEADD (Leadership Education Advancing Democracy and Diversity), Interfaith Alliance’s youth education program, is in its fourth year and working to spread its message of protecting religious freedom and democracy to high school students nationwide. Our new Weekend LEADD model, introduced in Tampa, FL in 2008, just wrapped up in Oklahoma City.  There, 23 Oklahoman high school students participated in a long weekend geared to encourage them to be informed, engaged citizens who educate their peers and speak out for both faith and freedom in America. Read on for a photo retrospective of the last three years of LEADD…

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Spotlight on…Interfaith Alliance of Iowa

On Friday, April 3, 2009, the Supreme Court of Iowa ruled that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same ability to be recognized as married by the state as heterosexual couples. The court upheld the right of religious groups to decide for themselves whom they will and will not marry. This comes after many years of work by Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, its members and others including Lambda Legal and One Iowa. Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Executive Director Connie Ryan Terrell coordinated much of the religious community support for the cause, working to protect both individual rights and religious freedom.

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Religious liberty at stake in U.S. courts

Religious LibertyThe battles for religious freedom are often fought in courtrooms across this country.  That is why Interfaith Alliance is expanding its work within the judicial system.  We will be watching very closely the confirmation process of the new Supreme Court nominee, and we are also following a number of key court cases currently being litigated.

In the last few months, federal and state courts have handed down some major decisions concerning our Constitution’s first freedom.  While there have been some encouraging victories, Interfaith Alliance is also preparing for an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case that could potentially inflict serious damage to American religious liberty.

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Faith, Funding and the Obama Administration

Obama Faith Based FundingInterfaith Alliance continues to monitor aggressively the activities and make-up of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. During the Bush Administration, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance, was one of the most vocal critics of this office. Under President Obama, Interfaith Alliance has continued to advocate for its closure. However, since it is clear that will not happen, we are providing clear guidance to the administration on how to bring the office in line with constitutional principles.

While the Obama Administration has made some changes to the office, it is unfortunately still operating under the same executive orders, issued by President Bush, that allow for direct funding of faith-based groups and discriminatory hiring practices. Recent news reports indicate that this troubling situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Joshua DuBois, director of the faith-based partnership, has indicated that they will strongly encourage, but not require, that faith-based groups receiving federal money do so through a separate 501(c)(3) to prevent house of worship and charity program finances from becoming entangled. Interfaith Alliance has made clear that encouragement is not enough. Our concerns about this have as much to do with protecting religion as they do with maintaining a secular government.

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