Howard Dean Issues Ultimatum to Churches: Give Up Religion or Stay Out of Politics

April 22, 2006

WASHINGTON, April 21 /Christian Newswire/ — Fidelis, a national Catholic based advocacy group, called on Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, to explain himself after telling the Christian Science Monitor Wednesday that “The religious community has to decide whether they want to be tax exempt or involved in politics.”

Fidelis President Joseph Cella responded: “Howard Dean’s statement makes it clear that he wants to muzzle America’s churches and religious groups from professing what they believe on important issues facing our society. When it comes to debates over public policy and issues, Dean should be welcoming the voice of America’s churches, not attempting to silence them. Instead Dean has shown utter disregard for people of faith by threatening the historical and treasured role of religious groups and churches in American public life.”

“Under Howard Dean’s rules, pastors, priests, and rabbis wouldn’t have been able to mobilize people of faith to join the civil rights marches in Selma and Montgomery,” said Cella.

Dean’s statement is the latest in a series of comments directed toward conservative Christians. Just last year, Dean told the San Francisco Chronicle, “they are not very friendly….they all behave the same, and they all look the same.”

Cella continued: “Dean’s blatant hostility toward any church or religious group calls into serious question his supposed outreach to values voters following the 2004 elections. In essence, Dean is saying that if religious groups want to continue to speak out, then the hand of government is going to exact a penalty. Comments such as these continue to place Howard Dean and the Democratic Party in jeopardy of further alienating religious voters.”

Fidelis is a Catholic-based advocacy organization working with people of faith across the country to defend and promote the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and the right to religious liberty by electing pro-life, pro-family and pro-religious liberty candidates, supporting the confirmation of judges, and promoting and defending laws consistent with the Founding principles of the United States.

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