Presidential Candidates Should Not Mix Religion and Politics

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ari Geller, West End Strategy Team, 202-776-7700, Ari@westendstrategy.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 15, 2008) – Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama should stop distributing fliers expressing his religious qualifications to be president, says the Interfaith Alliance, a leading religious freedom advocacy organization.

This week, Senator Obama’s campaign began distributing fliers in Kentucky describing Senator Obama as a “Committed Christian” and telling voters how Senator Obama’s religious upbringing will affect his decisions in the White House.  Unfortunately, this is just the latest example of political candidates from both parties misusing religion to gain support in this year’s campaign.  The flier is similar to other Obama campaign publications distributed earlier this year in South Carolina.

The Interfaith Alliance is opposed to candidates exploiting their religious beliefs to gain electoral support.  The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, a practicing Baptist minister and President of the Interfaith Alliance, issued the following statement on the use of religion in presidential politics:

“I am deeply disappointed that Senator Obama once again chose to distribute information about his religious beliefs in an attempt to score political points before a critical primary.   The candidates for president are running for Commander-in-Chief, not Pastor-in-Chief, and the Constitution clearly prohibits using religious convictions as a qualification for public office. There are so many serious issues facing this country from the war to health care to the economy. Presidential candidates need to spend more time outlining their vision for this country and less time trumpeting their religious bona fides.”

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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 www.interfaithalliance.org.