Spring Newsletter 2011 Spring Newsletter 2011

A Note from Welton

Welton GaddyA few days ago, my wife Judy and I took some time to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the cherry trees in full bloom, wonderful white bouquets surrounding Washington’s Tidal Basin. Soaking up part of the glory of spring was energizing, inspiring and evocative of hope. Unfortunately, taking a close look at other parts of the city, particularly on Capitol Hill, is less encouraging. Winter turns into spring, but some matters remain the same. Challenges to religious freedom mar the landscape of politics here like the terrible tornados that have stormed across the South this spring – leaving devastation in their wake and marring the promise of civic life. With your help, we at Interfaith Alliance work hard to sustain the promise of our Constitution and to protect the principles intrinsic to our freedom. You know the challenges. By means of this first newsletter of 2011, we want to share with you some of our successes.

I am as proud of the accomplishments you have helped Interfaith Alliance experience this year as I am stunned by the proliferation of challenges that continue to threaten our first freedom and many of our rights. There is little time to rejoice in our victories because of the rapidity with which disturbing new issues arise. We simply have to bring together a nation that is divided, at least on non-negotiable principles related to the relationship between the institutions of religion and the institutions of government. That essential task leaves little time to look at cherry blossoms; our work is important and the stakes are high.

In this newsletter, you will find information on how you can stay up to date – anywhere and everywhere - on news at the intersection of religion and politics, as well as on how you can help in all our critical efforts to protect religious freedom today and well into the future. I hope that as you enjoy reading our newsletter you will be as encouraged by our accomplishments as I am and that you will be motivated to join us in the pivotal work immediately ahead of us. We need you.

Again, thanks for your continued support. We never take it for granted and always receive it with gratitude. Working together, we will realize more successes in eliminating some of the ugliness in our nation and even be able to take quick breaks to enjoy the beauty of the world in which we live. 

Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Congress Holds Hearings on Muslim Community

King HearingsLast month, Congress held not one, but two hearings regarding the American Muslim community – and unfortunately there are more hearings to come. The first hearing was organized by Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and investigated the so-called “radicalization of the American Muslim community,” misguidedly singling out one religious group for scrutiny. The second hearing, held by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee he chairs, focused on protecting the civil rights of American Muslims. Though the intention behind and the tone of the latter hearing was definitively more positive and less controversial than the first hearing, it is unfortunate that such a hearing was necessary to begin with.

Read more: Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Congress Holds Hearings on Muslim Community

Fighting Islamophobia in Peter King’s home state

Introduction written by Jay Keller

Our Long Island affiliate is on the front line with respect to Rep. King's attack on Muslim Americans as many of the Long Island members live in Rep King’s district. Our affiliate’s board chair, Rev. Mark told me “We feel a special obligation to be out front in defending religious freedom for our Muslim American sisters and brothers when it is being so outrageously attacked from a powerful congressman.” Below is a report on Long Island Interfaith Alliance’s work on combatting Islamophobia in Peter King’s district.

Rev. Mark Luken

Our November 2010 Thanksgiving service for religious freedom pre-dated the hearings. It was held at the Islamic Center of Long Island and featured Bishop Murphy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, which represents more than 50 percent of Long Island’s population. This wonderful celebration of unity in diversity service also included rabbis, ministers and imams.

In response to the announcement of the upcoming Peter King hearings, we led a letter-writing campaign to our local newspaper, Newsday. Letters from both Sister Jeanne Clarke and I were published, taking Rep. King to task for not including a broader spectrum of speakers and for focusing only on radical Islam. We co-sponsored a pray-in at King's district office on February 22, and despite being confronted by a contingent of King supporters, we managed to gather clergy and laity from the Roman Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim and Unitarian faiths to pray together. The event was well-covered in the local and national press.

Read more: Fighting Islamophobia in Peter King’s home state

Honoring the Four Immortal Chaplains – Then and Now

The four immortal chaplainsNearly 70 years ago, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester began to sink, and four chaplains on board did what they knew how to do – bring calm and comfort to a chaotic situation. In the end, Chaplains Rabbi Alexander David Goode, Father John Washington, Rev. George Lansing Fox and Rev. Clark Poling made the ultimate sacrifice, as they gave up their life jackets to save four others and went down with the ship. Though spiritual leaders of four different religions, together, they stood in prayer as the ship went down into the North Atlantic Sea.

Read more: Honoring the Four Immortal Chaplains – Then and Now

Looking Ahead: Faith and the 2012 Presidential Election

2012The first primaries of the 2012 campaign cycle are still a while away, but there is already cause for concern for those of us who care about protecting the boundaries between religion and government. President Obama has announced that he is seeking a second term in office. And as of now, he is unlikely to face any serious primary challengers. On the Republican side, candidates are already positioning themselves for the election and, unfortunately, leaning heavily on religious rhetoric to do it.

Read more: Looking Ahead: Faith and the 2012 Presidential Election

Taking State of Belief with you anywhere and everywhere

New App for your PhoneState of Belief is excited to announce a brand new app for your iPhone or Android smartphone. You can listen to the latest shows any time, keep up with the State of Belief blog and more. And best of all, it’s free! Download the State of Belief app right now by clicking on the link below and enjoy religion and radio, done differently, in a brand new way.

Android iPhone / iPad
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FAQ From You: What is the easiest and greenest way to donate?

Become a Torchbearer TodayIf you’re looking for a hassle-free and paper-free way to give, becoming a Torchbearer is the giving option for you! Our Torchbearers are a special group of our most dedicated supporters who donate each month and whose support often has made the difference between Interfaith Alliance having the means to take action instead of remaining silent during these tough economic times.

Here’s how it works: Use our safe and secure online form to join and set the amount of your monthly donation. Your credit card will be automatically charged the same amount on the same day each month – ensuring that making and tracking your donations are simple. Your membership will automatically renew each year, and every January, you’ll receive an annual giving acknowledgment that can be used for tax purposes.

It’s that simple! And besides taking advantage of an easy way to give, Torchbearers also enjoy the following benefits:

  • Receive less mail. No paper is required to donate. And because your membership will automatically renew each year, you won’t receive renewal notices in the mail.
  • Enjoy access to a special 800 number to reach our Torchbearer Coordinator from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, with questions about your monthly donation or changes to your account. We understand that situations change, and we’re grateful for all the support you can provide us, so we make it easy for you to change or cancel your monthly donations at any time.
  • Have peace of mind knowing that you are providing the reliable support Interfaith Alliance needs to take immediate action – without missing a beat – when threats to faith and freedom arise.

Becoming a Torchbearer is the easiest and greenest way to give! Join hundreds of Torchbearers today and help Interfaith Alliance protect religious freedom at a time when our nation is more divided, politically and ideologically than ever before. Your activism and support is the backbone of all our important work – and that’s why we make donating as simple as possible.  Become a Torchbearer today!