Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award

About the Faith & Freedom Award

The Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award recognizes those whose courageous actions embody the values of civility, tolerance, and cooperation in the advancement of public dialogue and public policy on traditionally controversial issues.

In addition to being a respected journalist and one of the most trusted men in America, Walter Cronkite was a committed supporter of Interfaith Alliance Foundation. He joined the organization because “nothing less is at stake in the work of the Interfaith Alliance than the existence of democracy as we know it.” Cronkite served as the honorary chair of Interfaith Alliance from 1997 until his death in 2009.

The Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Awardhonors individuals of faith and goodwill who stand up for religious freedom and demonstrate the constructive force of religion in American life. This Award is a demonstration of our appreciation for individual accomplishment in our movement within the past year, rather than a lifetime achievement award.

Recipients of the 2019 Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award

Interfaith Alliance will recognize Judge William H. Webster, former director of the FBI and the CIA, and Peter Maer, acclaimed CBS News White House correspondent, with the 2019 Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award.

The ceremony took place on May 21, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Judge William H. Webster is the only American to have served as both the FBI director (1978-1987) and the CIA director (1987-1991). Before his leadership in the intelligence and national security communities, he served as United States attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri from 1960 to 1961. In 1970, he was appointed a judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and in 1973 was elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. During his service on the bench, Webster was chairman of the Judiciary Conference Advisory Committee on the Criminal Rules and was a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Habeas Corpus and the Committee of Court Administration.

He is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Security Medal and the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

Peter Maer is a veteran broadcast journalist whose career included almost 40 years as a White House correspondent. Before retiring in 2015, Maer covered the presidential beat for CBS News for nearly 20 years. He previously covered the White House for NBC Radio News and Mutual Broadcasting. He continues to serve as a CBS News Contributor for radio coverage of major political events.

Additionally, Maer’s work has been recognized with multiple Edward R. Murrow Awards, including as a part of the CBS News team covering the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the network’s coverage of the Clinton impeachment trial and, in 2005, for his radio feature reporting. He is also a five-time recipient of the prestigious Merriman Smith Award for Presidential Coverage Under Deadline Pressure as well as a recipient of the Scripps-Howard and National Radio Festival Awards for radio documentaries on President Clinton’s initiative on race relations and the anniversary of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School. Maer was honored with Overseas Press Club citations for his coverage of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake and the 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev Summit.

“Judge Webster demonstrates an unwavering dedication to truth, a commitment to defending religious freedom, and a belief in the value of informed civic participation,” said Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance. “Peter Maer had a nearly 40-year career in broadcast journalist that epitomized integrity, covering every president since Jimmy Carter, as well as disasters, impeachment trials, international crises and treaties. He truly embodies the commitment to advancing public dialogue on traditionally controversial and divisive issues.”

Past Recipients

Past recipients of the Cronkite Award include actor and activist George Clooney, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, CNN’s Larry King, PBS’s Jim Lehrer, journalists Bill & Judith Moyers, U.S. Representatives Chet Edwards and Amo Houghton, the Rt. Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon, the Rev. Dr. C Welton Gaddy, Rabbi Steven Jacobs and activist Judy Shepard. A full list of past honorees can be found here.