September 18, 2008
Pledge Counters Plans by Alliance Defense Fund to Violate Boundaries Between Religion and Government
Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance has launched a nationwide campaign urging clergy to protect the boundaries between religion and government and refrain from endorsing political candidates on behalf of their house of worship. Clergy across the country are being asked to sign a six point pledge to uphold certain standards during the election. This effort stands in stark contrast to the Alliance Defense Fund’s (ADF) plans to have clergy around the country violate federal law by making endorsements from the pulpit on September 28. A copy of the pledge along with a selection of signers can be found here at https://interfaithalliance.org/clergypledge
The Interfaith Alliance pledge has already been signed by over 25 major religious leaders spanning both the religious and ideological spectrum. Among the first singers of the pledge was the Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland Church and a leader in the evangelical movement. Other signers include the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church; Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director of the Islamic Society of North America, and Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein, Senior Rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York.
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance and Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana told his own congregation last Sunday: “I cannot stress strongly enough my objections to turning houses of worship into pseudo-precinct nominating conventions.” He went on to say, “I am as concerned about what such a practice in houses of worship would do to the integrity and credibility of religion as about what it would do to weaken the Constitution.” You can listen to or read the complete sermon at http://www.northmin.org/sermons/2008
Rev. Joel Hunter signed the pledge because of the proper role religious leaders should have over their congregants. By endorsing candidates from the pulpit: “You’re almost usurping the spiritual leadership that ought to come only from their personal faith with God.” Rev. Hunter also stated, “To somehow subjugate this transcendent God into one political party or another or one candidate or another is, I think, insulting toward God.” Dr. Hunter will be a guest on Rev. Gaddy’s weekly radio show, State of Belief, this weekend.
Last Friday, Interfaith Alliance asked its members across the country to sign the pledge (if they are clergy) or obtain a signature from their religious leader. Over 150 clergy have signed on to the pledge based on that call.
Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.