Rev. Welton Gaddy: How Many Lies Does it Take?

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Washington, D.C. – On this weekend’s “State of Belief,” The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy gave an impassioned criticism of the Bush Administration penchant for lies in his “Preaching to the Choir” segment.


Usually in my Preaching to the Choir segment, I speak with you about something that has

been on my mind and that likely has been on your mind as well.  Today the segment is different.  Maybe it is a result of the intense heat that has blistered Washington, D.C. this past week, or perhaps it’s because July Fourth got me thinking about how precious – and assaulted — our freedom is, or maybe it’s simply wearied frustration with the way things are going in our highly politicized nation.  Whatever the reason, today I am filled with questions.


These are not the questions of the staff of State of Belief or The Interfaith Alliance Foundation.  These are the questions of C. Welton Gaddy.   If, perchance, you share any of them, maybe we can ask them together.


How many lies does it take to constitute a critical mass that would cause citizens to resolve not to trust the White House and to demand some truth-telling?


Was it faulty intelligence or outright deception or a combination of the two that caused us to invade Iraq in search of weapons of massive destruction? 


After having been told for years that we remain in Iraq to stop terrorists there so we don’t have to fight them here, why this past week have we been told Al Qaeda is stronger today than it was prior to 9/11, and that the U.S. invasion of Iraq has been a great benefit to the recruitment of terrorists? 


Are we dealing with gross incompetence or a studied lack of integrity?


How can the Vice President of the United States get away with secretive actions —and not even have to offer an explanation — when any other citizen of this land engaged in such behavior would be hauled before congress or a court and investigated for illegalities?  Is that the result of executive privilege or is it civil misbehavior dressed up to look like executive privilege?


Surely you see that these questions — reverberating around the traffic light at the intersection of religion and politics — get to the heart of what is happening in our democracy. Will anybody answer them?

The most recent issue of Time magazine reports that the American people feel that the president’s use of religion has deepened divides in the nation.  Is that because religion has not played its proper role—questioning deception, challenging dishonesty, demanding conformity to the dictates of justice? 


I know religion can make a positive contribution in this troubling situation.  For that to happen, though, religious voices will have to challenge the power to which we are charged to speak truth… when truth-telling is not easy or popular. 


Ours cannot be the way of the former U.S. surgeon general, who wore the muzzle by which the White House kept him from telling the truth about science and health.  Why is this man now being praised for reporting that reality only after he has been out of office? 


Is there a Hypocritic Oath that trumps the Hippocratic Oath or even the common virtue of honesty?


Why are we putting up with this situation?  Where is the outrage of the American people who still believe in a constitutional form of government that values and promotes democracy? I have these questions pounding against my conscience, burning in my bones.  Are mine the right questions?            


Long ago, I learned that, in any situation, we never can get the right answers as long as we are asking the wrong questions.  Even a correct answer to a wrong question serves no one well—neither a person nor a nation.  So, I ask again, are my inquiries the right questions?  If not, who has the right ones? 


In the intersection of religion and politics, there is one constant—a pursuit of truth.  We never can solve problems without knowing the truth about the problems.  Religion likes truth, counts on truth, in fact. Regardless of how much truth disturbs us or angers us, it can fuel the behavior that causes us to begin working to correct what is wrong and to build again the structures, language, and policies of what is right. 


It’s time to ask the questions that get us in touch with the truth that will guide us to a recovery of the unity and security that reside where the vitality of democracy and the integrity of religion touch each other.


Also on the show: Dr. Richard Sloan, author of Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine; Professor Randall Balmer, author of Thy Kingdom Come; and Sister Simone Campbell is the Executive Director of NETWORK on a letter from Catholic lawmakers lobbying the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the war in Iraq.


State of Belief is religion and radio, done differently.  State of Belief explores the intersection of religion with politics, culture, media, and activism. Through interviews with newsmakers and celebrities, reports from the field, and his own commentary, Rev. Welton Gaddy shows how religion and freedom are compatible and how the religious right is wrong for America and bad for religion.


10:00 to 11:00 AM ET each Saturday and rebroadcast at 7:00 to 8:00 PM ET each Sunday on Air America Radio Network. To see where and when State of Belief is broadcast or to stream or podcast go to: