Good afternoon. The Interfaith Alliance has consistently challenged the Bush administrationís expansion of the faith-based initiatives program and the infusion of religious language and practice in the comport of the Presidency. We have listened to reassurances about the Constitutional guarantees of separation of religion and government from those who have defended the Presidentís agenda, but we have listened with skepticism. And now it turns out that skepticism was well founded.
If ever there were a question about the real intent of expanding faith-based initiatives and promoting a presence of religion in government, this tactic puts it to rest. The Bush-Cheney campaign has dropped any pretense of honoring the separation of church and state mandated by the Constitution, and puts in jeopardy the non-profit status of 1600 houses of worship by asking them to engage in partisan politics.
What is most distressing is the crass and cavalier way the campaign leadership has asserted this affront to the sanctity of houses of worship. The freedom of conscience that allows an American to choose or not choose a place of worship pertains to political choice as well. Political choice is not superseded by religious affiliation.
The Interfaith Alliance criticized President Clinton for a campaign appearance in a church during the last election cycle Ė this is not a partisan issue. But the Bush-Cheney campaign, by formalizing the intrusion of partisan politics into houses of worship, has revealed that it is not guided by principles of faith, but interested in exploiting people of faith.
The President should repudiate this initiative immediately. 1600 Pennsylvania churches for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. How clever. How reprehensible.