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 celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit