Is the 'Religious Right' Dead?

Borrowing from Mark Twain - - rumors of the death of the Religious Right “have been greatly exaggerated.”

Today, nowhere is the intersection of religion and government more alive and well than in the Presidential campaigns on both sides of the aisle. From national debates where candidates are asked to “recite their favorite Bible verse” or “describe their worst sin,” to campaign literature that labels a candidate as a “committed Christian,” it is clear that our nation’s “First Freedom” is at risk.

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy (President, Interfaith Alliance Foundation) and Rev. Barry Lynn (Executive Director, Americans United for Separation of Church and State) have co-authored a new book that exposes the Religious Right’s influence in the 2008 elections. Their book puts to rest rumors that religion’s influence in government is waning. In fact, to counteract questions from the Religious Right, Rev. Dr. Gaddy and Rev. Lynn offer “10 real questions” to ask their candidates (see below).

To schedule an interview with either Rev. Dr. Gaddy or Rev. Lynn please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thanks, Adam

Adam Muhlendorf
Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications

Contact: Americans United – Rob Boston
Interfaith Alliance – William Blake
Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications, Adam Muhlendorf, 202.265.3000

Is the ‘Religious Right’ Dead?

New Book Says ‘Rumors of its Death Are Greatly Exaggerated’

WASHINGTON, DC - Despite rumors to the contrary, the Religious Right’s influence over the government and the 2008 campaign remains alarmingly strong, say two nationally known ministers and interfaith leaders campaigning for protection of individual religious liberties in America.

Religious liberty -- the right of an individual to worship or not -- was established in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the resulting church-state divide is a defining American value. But in today’s political climate, where the Religious Right wields undue influence and the 2008 presidential candidates publicly proclaim their religious credentials, this “first freedom” is at risk.

In a new book released this week, the leaders of the Interfaith Alliance Foundation and Americans United for Separation of Church and State provide a citizens’ guide to understanding and navigating the intersection between faith and politics.

First Freedom First: A Citizens’ Guide To Protecting Religious Liberty And The Separation Of Church And State, co-authored by the President of the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, and the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, illustrates the threats facing religious liberty in this country. Their book offers simple ways individuals can preserve our nation’s fundamental freedoms and First Amendment rights.

Rev. Gaddy provides a religious-political perspective that takes readers on the campaign trail and into the halls of Congress. Rev. Lynn provides a legal perspective on religious freedom that takes readers from the creation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment to contemporary issues of religious freedom moving through the U.S. legal system, including those dealing with end-of-life care, academic integrity, evolution and creationism in public schools, and religious discrimination.

“This year’s presidential election has often seemed to be more of a race for pastor-in-chief, than commander-in-chief,” said Gaddy. “We seem to have become obsessed with the candidates’ religion to the point of distraction. It is one thing for a candidate to talk about their faith; it is quite another to imply that you should vote for them because of it. Faith can play a positive role in public life, but not as a political tool.”

Said Lynn, “The forces that would merge religion and government are alive and well in this country. We need to make sure the Religious Right does not dominate the public square in this election year. The American people want to know where the candidates stand on the critical issues of the day, not what their favorite Bible verse is.”

First Freedom First is the latest collaboration between the Interfaith Alliance Foundation and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. In 2006, the organizations launched the First Freedom First campaign to engage Americans in defense of church-state separation and individual religious freedoms.

In March, First Freedom First broadcast a historic, nation-wide production featuring celebrities, community leaders, religious liberty heroes and others to focus on the need for more discussion of issues related to church-state separation in the 2008 election. The simulcast featured actors Peter Coyote, the Bacon Brothers (Kevin Bacon with his brother Michael), Michael J. Fox, Jack Klugman, James Whitmore, Wendie Malick, Dan Lauria and Catherine Dent. This production was simulcast for free in movie theaters in 37 cities across the country.

Due to overwhelming demand, the full-length presentation is available on the First Freedom First website,


What others are saying about the book:

“This is a book for every American. Gaddy and Lynn have provided us with a volume that informs and challenges, as well as inspires and guides us on issues of vital importance to all of us —our founding fathers' vision for religious liberty and their constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state. I applaud this book as a tool for preserving our democracy’s greatest treasure.” —Walter Cronkite

“If we forsake our freedom of religion, it’s not the kind of thing we can ask nicely to have returned to us when we realize later how much we need it. First Freedom First explains why we ought to avoid this mistake, but, crucially, also how to avoid it—how respect for the First Amendment can unify even the most disparate elements in America’s spiritual life.” —Rachel Maddow, Air America Radio


10 Questions to Ask Candidates to Safeguard
Separation of Church and State and Protect Religious Liberty

1.     Leaders on the religious right often say that America is a “Christian Nation.” Do you agree with this statement?

2.     Do you think Houses of Worship should be allowed to endorse political candidates and retain their tax exempt status?

3.     Do you think public schools should sponsor school prayer or, as a parent, should this choice be left to me?

4.     Would you support a law that mandates teaching creationism in my child’s public school science classes?

5.     Do you think my pharmacist should be allowed to deny me doctor-prescribed medications based on his or her religious beliefs?

6.     Will you respect the rights of those in our diverse communities of faith who deem same-gender marriage to be consistent with their religious creed?

7.     Should “faith-based” charities that receive public funds be allowed to discriminate against employees or applicants based on religious beliefs?

8.     Do you think one's right to disbelieve in God is protected by the same laws that protect someone else's right to believe?

9.     Do you think everyone’s religious freedom needs to be protected by what Thomas Jefferson called “a wall of separation” between church and state?

10.     What should guide our policies on public health and medical research: science or religion?