The President of Interfaith Alliance, The Reverend C. Welton Gaddy, in a letter dated June 16, sent to GOP leaders, including, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, has expressed his deep concern at the, "disproportionate role religion has played during recent election cycles."
In the letter, the Republican candidates in their Monday CNN debate were specifically mentioned for their preoccupation with religious issues in the debate.
According to Reverend C. Welton Gady, "..watching the first debate between the Republican candidates for president, I could not help but be concerned with the extent to which religion will be used as an electoral tool…"
In Welton Gaddy's letter addressed, also, to President Barack Obama, Welton Gaddy stated:
Indeed, at times, the entanglement between religion and politics has seemed to threaten both the integrity of religion and the vitality of politics. Religion should never be used as a political tool. Campaigns should be about policies, issues that will affect how a candidate would govern and shape the lives of his or her constituents.
Gaddy commended Senator Rick Santorum for observing that the public square is open to both people with faith and people with no faith.
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, however disagreed with Reverend Welton Gaddy. Dr. Richard Land argued that religion has become an important issue in American politics because it determines the policy leanings of an administration and its style of governance.
While Reverend Gaddy thought that religion was a major issue in the Monday night debate by the GOP candidates, Dr. Land argued that non of the candidates at the debate made direct reference to their religious faiths. Reverend Welton Gaddy's comments seem, however, to have been influenced by the fact that many of the issues touched upon by the candidates were religion-related issues, such as same-sex marriage and abortion.
Dr. Land accused Gaddy of allowing his radical separatist views to interfere with his judgment. According to Dr. Land:
If a candidate's worldview is informed by his faith. I think it is his right and obligation to make it clear to American people.
Land argued that it was unreasonable for Reverend Welton Gaddy to expect that politicans would seperate their faith from political discussions, especially when public policy issues which relate to faith were at stake.
Gaddy, however, pointed to the statement by GOP candidate Herman Cain, in March, that he would not appoint Muslims as cabinet members, as an example of the abuse of religion in politics he was referring to. Gaddy said:
I was deeply disturbed by Mr. Cain’s comments on Muslims serving their country in a presidential administration which imply that there is some need for caution or concern and by the suggestion that there is a greater need to make sure a Muslim applicant will uphold the Constitution, than there is for any other applicant. We should keep radical extremists out of government regardless of their religious affiliation.
Dr. Land agreed that Cain's statement "un-American" and that Herman Cain unfairly demonized the entire Muslim American community, but he insisted all the same that, "I do not see anything in the debates that should concern Americans.