Washington, DC – Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of The Interfaith Alliance released the following statement today following Senator Barack Obama’s speech on race in America:

Senator Barack Obama’s remarks provided a model of civility not just for a sensitive handling of racial issues, but also for his handling of potentially divisive religious issues. He gave us an important reminder that we do not live in a static society. Senator Obama today reminded us that change is possible, that we can begin to bridge the racial and religious divides, but only if we all make the effort.

Reports about comments made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright over the last few years have stirred up strong feelings about the role of race and religion in this country. I agree with Senator Obama when he said that the comments ‘expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country.’ Senator Obama found the right balance of criticizing when he thought Rev. Wright got it wrong, but understanding the underlying perspective that those comments represent.

What I did not hear in Senator Obama’s remarks, but still needs significant emphasis is a clear statement that religious leaders should avoid partisan entanglements within houses of worship. Clergy must be free to speak about important issues of the day, and they should provide moral guidance to their congregations, but they lose credibility when they tie themselves to a specific candidate.

Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.