A Note from Welton

President Rev. Dr. C. Welton GaddyA few weeks ago, my scheduled appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show caused a bit of disturbance. But, it was not what you might think. My youngest grandchild, Jamieson, would not go to bed until he saw me on television. This seven year old was not just interested in seeing one of his grandparents on the tube. I was surprised to learn that he follows Interfaith Alliance’s blogs, website, State of Belief website and more. That makes me smile. The truth is that much of what we are working on every day will impact directly the strength of freedom in the lives of Jamieson and his ten-year-old brother, Reynolds. Often, when I do a media engagement or go to a meeting on Capitol Hill, these two little boys are on my mind and fueling a passion in me that already burns strongly.

We are at a pivotal juncture in our fight to protect faith and freedom. Presently, we are trying to counter a well-funded campaign to change the historic definition of religious freedom. By the end of this year, voters in this nation will make decisions that could forever alter the status of our Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom. Indeed, the work of Interfaith Alliance has never been more critical.

Please know that we can’t move forward in our work without you. Our dedicated activists and members like you are our strongest asset and greatest source of encouragement and assistance. Thank you for your ongoing support.

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A Sincere Thank You to Working Assets/Credo Members!

Credo Working AssetsInterfaith Alliance Foundation was chosen in 2011 as one of the 40 recipient groups around the country to receive funding through Working Assets/CREDO’s annual giving campaign. Thanks to our members who use Working Assets/CREDO and voted for us, we received a grant of $43,541 to help with our numerous programs that help protect faith and freedom in America.

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Balancing Equally Important Priorities: The Debate over Religious Freedom and Contraception

Contraception debateReproductive health care has always been a divisive political issue, but the recent debate over contraception has created a heated frenzy like we’ve never seen before. In August of 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced guidelines – as part of the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 – that by August of 2012, most employers would be required to provide coverage for a wide range of preventative services for women without their health insurance plans charging a co-pay or deductible. Preventative services that must be covered include mammograms, screenings for diabetes, prenatal care and – to the dismay of many – contraception.

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Another Win in the Fight for Marriage Equality

Same-Gender Marriage and Religious FreedomSupporters of marriage equality scored a significant victory in February when a three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 8 – a referendum passed by California voters to amend their state constitution to ban same-gender marriage after it was initially made legal by that state’s high court – violated the U.S. Constitution. We are delighted by the panel’s ruling. On the day the ruling was issued, Rev. Gaddy said that the panel not only got the law right, but that its decision also furthers the cause of religious freedom. As he noted, “How the government defines marriage must be rooted in the Constitution – as is this decision … [It] in no way inhibits the right of a church or other house of worship to base its definition on religious doctrine.”

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Countering the Destructive Effects of the Campaign Season on Religious Freedom

War on ReligionIf you followed the presidential primary race that has just drawn to a close, you know how extreme political statements regarding religion have gotten. “Obama’s war on religion.” “The assault on religious liberties.” “The trampling of religious freedom.” And who would have ever thought we would hear a candidate for the presidency of this nation say that the idea of an “absolute separation of church and state” made him want to vomit.

Rick Santorum – until earlier this month, a candidate for president – made that comment in the lead-up to the Michigan GOP primary on February 28th, challenging the substance of then-Senator and presidential candidate John F. Kennedy’s landmark 1960 speech to the Houston Ministerial Association in which he affirmed the importance of church-state separation and promised to resign the office of the president if the dictates of his faith came into conflict with the mandates of the Constitution. Santorum followed up his remark with an event in Louisiana at which his host, Pastor Dennis Terry, told those who disagree with him to “get out” of America. Even with Mr. Santorum’s later attempt to take back the harshest of his rhetoric, his proposal of an America without the guarantee of the First Amendment – or, in other words, a country in which religious liberty is interpreted to mean that only the government is forbidden from telling “the church” what to do, but not vice versa – is still the most frightening statement on a presidential campaign in recent memory. Recently, Rev. Gaddy responded to Pastor Terry on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, noting,

“That man gave me the feeling that he is the war on religion because what he was talking about was being anti-American and anti-religious…We are not a nation that kicks people out because of disagreement…[and] nobody has told him he can’t talk about God, nobody’s told him he can’t talk about Jesus.”

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Taking “I Spy…” to a Whole New Level

FBI spying on American MuslimsAnd now, your quarterly update on who is demonizing, mischaracterizing, spying on or maligning (both intentionally and unintentionally) the American Muslim community – law enforcement edition. Over the past several months, the FBI has undertaken a large-scale review and overhaul of its training materials related to American Muslims and Islam after Wired magazine uncovered evidence of biased training materials. More recently, the FBI’s intelligence-gathering methods have been questioned after documents were released showing that FBI agents recorded innocuous details about individual American Muslims’ First Amendment-protected religious beliefs and practices and then classified it as “secret,” “positive intelligence” and shared that information with other agencies. It has also come to light, thanks to some truly impressive investigative reporting by the Associated Press, that the New York Police Department has conducted constitutionally-questionable, “secret intelligence operations,” spying on American Muslims throughout the Northeast. And finally, just this month, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing on ending racial profiling, paying significant attention to religious profiling, particularly the profiling of American Muslims.

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