A Note From Welton

Presdient Welton GaddyWhat a quick summer, or, at least it seemed that way to me. I hope your summer-wrap-up Labor Day weekend was restful, enjoyable and thoughtful. This year, the advent of autumn is accompanied by new challenges as well as traditional opportunities – as our children and grandchildren return to school and as Congress returns to Washington. The former prompts gratitude and expectation in me; the latter evokes anxiety and even a modicum of fear.    

We at Interfaith Alliance had a busier than usual summer maybe that is why it seemed to pass so rapidly. Gross incivility and serious threats to religious freedom demanded constant attention and initiatives born of our shared mission. Though we were not always at the forefront of national news, none of the threats to faith and freedom that escalated during the summer were without our attention and involvement. The Religious Right returned to many of its old ways spouting hateful rhetoric and announcing plans to use the government to control everybody’s lives. Anti-Muslim bigotry lost none of its ugliness or loudness. And, still again, the LGBT community was hit by broadsides of intentional, legal inequality. So the days of summer allowed us no rest; our work continued. As a matter of fact, we have compiled highlights of this work to share with you in our second e-newsletter of 2011.

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Interfaith Events Planned for the Anniversary of September 11, 2001

Interfaith Alliance affiliates are working on positive and healing events to remember the tragic events of September 11th. Many affiliates were involved in Faith Shared events in June and continue to strengthen efforts to build respect across belief traditions. Read on for a list of events planned around the country:

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Election Year Guides for Candidates, Voters and Houses of Worship

2012As the 2012 election cycle heats up, Interfaith Alliance will continue to ask candidates to stop using religion as a political tool. In 2008 we saw this kind of abuse coming from both Democrats and Republicans – including President Obama. This year, the focus for now is on the Republican candidates as they move toward primary season. Never in modern times have we seen religion misused so much so early in the process. Rev. Gaddy has already written to all of the candidates and the respective chairs of the Republican and Democratic National Committees, asking them to tone down the religious rhetoric.

As we have done for many years, Interfaith Alliance will be providing voters, candidates and houses of worship guidance on how to appropriately engage with one another during the election season through our Vote 2012 election year guides:

Each guide has been carefully developed over the years with the help of activists, experts in election and tax law and, in the case of the candidate and house of worship guides, the IRS.

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like (Irrational Panic Over) Sharia?

How do you solve a problem like sharia?Jon Stewart posed the Sound of Music – inspired question that lends itself to the title of this piece in March, just before Rep. Peter King (R-NY) held his first hearing on the so-called “radicalization” of the American Muslim community. Unfortunately, this irrational fear continues to spread, with state legislatures introducing bills that would explicitly prohibit courts from considering Sharia law, religious law, foreign law and/or international law, thus aiming to combat an invisible problem – with grave implications for religious freedom and the American court system.

A lot has happened in the world of combating anti-Muslim hatred since our Spring e-newsletter, when I wrote about the first Congressional hearings regarding the American Muslim community: Rep. King held a second and then third Congressional hearing (which thankfully received just as much press coverage as they deserved – that is to say, very little) and presidential candidates have voiced skepticism as to whether they would appoint Muslims to their Administrations. But fear mongering against the so-called “creeping Sharia” seems to be making the most headlines and doing the most damage.

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Breaking Bread and Breaking Stereotypes

Service from the National CathedralInterfaith Alliance, in partnership with Human Rights First, invited houses of worship from across the country – and from a variety of faith traditions – to organize interfaith events as part of our Faith Shared initiative held on Sunday, June 26th. The key component of each Faith Shared event was clergy of different faiths coming together to share readings on respect and tolerance from their sacred texts.

The goals of Faith Shared were to create opportunities for faith communities to strengthen ties with one another – and to use images and videos from the events to spread a message of respect and understanding around the world. By doing so, we hoped to counter a perception of intolerance that is often portrayed in the international media.

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