Statement of Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President, The Interfaith Alliance

Washington, DC – Presidential candidates and CNN moderators should not allow this weekend’s Compassion Forum with presidential candidates to yet again misuse religion as a political tool and to further blur the boundaries between religion and government, according to a prominent interfaith advocacy leader.

“Voters have the right to know what role a candidate’s faith will play in creating public policy, not what they pray about and what they believe to be their greatest sins,” Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist preacher and President of The Interfaith Alliance said.

Rev. Gaddy continued, “The role of faith in the election is an important issue but unfortunately, it has been mishandled both by the candidates and by the media.”

Polling conducted by The Interfaith Alliance Foundation showed that seven in ten Americans think that presidential candidates should not use religion or faith to influence voters. More info on the poll can be found here.

The full text of Gaddy’s statement is below:

The idea of a forum focused completely on faith raises a few red flags. CNN has agreed to air Faith in Public Life’s “Compassion Forum” this weekend. Given the type of questions asked at the Sojourners Presidential Forum on Faith last year, I think our concerns are justified. The role of faith in the election is an important issue, but unfortunately it has been mishandled by both the candidates and the media. At the Sojourners forum candidates were asked what they prayed about and their greatest sin, and in an MSNBC debate candidates were asked their favorite Bible verse. I hope that this time CNN and the other sponsors of the forum will concentrate on questions that have real relevance to the voting public.

Voters want to know what role a candidate’s faith and values will play in creating public policy. They want to know if candidates will respect the boundaries between religion and government. And, they want to know how a candidate will balance the principles of their faith with their pledge to defend the Constitution, particularly when they come into conflict.

Faith has played an unusually large role in the 2008 elections; if this trend is going to continue, we should at least ask the right questions.

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