Washington, DC – Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of The Interfaith Alliance released the following statement today following Senator Barack Obama’s speech on race in America:

Senator Barack Obama’s remarks provided a model of civility not just for a sensitive handling of racial issues, but also for his handling of potentially divisive religious issues. He gave us an important reminder that we do not live in a static society. Senator Obama today reminded us that change is possible, that we can begin to bridge the racial and religious divides, but only if we all make the effort.

Reports about comments made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright over the last few years have stirred up strong feelings about the role of race and religion in this country. I agree with Senator Obama when he said that the comments ‘expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country.’ Senator Obama found the right balance of criticizing when he thought Rev. Wright got it wrong, but understanding the underlying perspective that those comments represent.

What I did not hear in Senator Obama’s remarks, but still needs significant emphasis is a clear statement that religious leaders should avoid partisan entanglements within houses of worship. Clergy must be free to speak about important issues of the day, and they should provide moral guidance to their congregations, but they lose credibility when they tie themselves to a specific candidate.

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.