I think I'm going to puke...

Joseph S. Barrera III joe at barrera.org
Sat Dec 27 09:40:04 PST 2003


Lucas Gonze wrote:

 > Russell, this story is just a hatchet job by a highly partisan paper.
 > There's nothing in it.

Here's the original article in the Boston Globe:

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2003/12/25/seeking_a_new_emphasis_dean_touts_his_christianity/

Seeking a new emphasis, Dean touts his Christianity
Southern campaign plans to increase religious references

By Sarah Schweitzer, Globe Staff, 12/25/2003

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Presidential contender Howard B. Dean, who has said 
little about religion while campaigning except to emphasize the 
separation of church and state, described himself in an interview with 
the Globe as a committed believer in Jesus Christ and said he expects to 
increasingly include references to Jesus and God in his speeches as he 
stumps in the South.
 
Dean, 55, who practices Congregationalism but does not often attend 
church and whose wife and children are Jewish, explained the move as a 
desire to share his beliefs with audiences willing to listen. His 
comments came as a rival, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, 
chastised other Democrats for forgetting "that faith was central to our 
founding and remains central to our national purpose."

The move is striking for a man who has steadfastly kept his personal 
life out of the campaign, rarely offering biographical information, much 
less his religious beliefs. But in the Globe interview, Dean said that 
Jesus was an important influence in his life and that he would probably 
share with some voters the model Jesus has served for him.

"Christ was someone who sought out people who were disenfranchised, 
people who were left behind," Dean said. "He fought against 
self-righteousness of people who had everything . . . He was a person 
who set an extraordinary example that has lasted 2000 years, which is 
pretty inspiring when you think about it."

He acknowledged that he was raised in the "Northeast" tradition of not 
discussing religious beliefs in public, and said he held back in New 
Hampshire, where that is the practice. But in other areas, such as the 
South, he said, he would discuss his beliefs more openly.

Some of Dean's competitors have made no secret of their religious 
beliefs. US Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri regularly 
describes his son's recovery from an illness as a gift of God, while 
Lieberman takes pains to emphasize his inability to attend campaign 
events on Saturdays because of the Jewish Sabbath.

On the Republican side, President Bush is outspoken about his religious 
journey, which he has said began in 1986, when he gave up drinking and 
recommitted his heart to Jesus Christ, whom he named as his favorite 
philosopher.

Political analysts note that discussing religious beliefs could provide 
an important link to Southern voters. Greater numbers of Southern voters 
feel religion and politics need not be separate. An ABC/Washington Post 
poll released this week showed that 46 percent of Southerners said a 
president should rely on his religious beliefs in making policy 
decisions, compared with 40 percent nationwide and 28 percent in the 
East. The South is a potential problem area for Dean's campaign for the 
Democratic nomination, particularly as rivals like retired Army general 
Wesley K. Clark of Arkansas and Senator John Edwards of North Carolina 
invoke their Southern roots. In recent years, the South has been tough 
ground for any Democrat in the general election.

"If the Dean people are playing chess instead of checkers and are moving 
down the board and trying to figure out how to win a general election as 
well as how to win a nomination, they had best explain Dean to the 
people in terms of religiosity," said Stephen Hess, a senior fellow in 
governmental studies at the Brookings Institution.

Hess added that Dean's public showing of faith could help distance him 
from the issue of gay marriage, expected to be a contentious subject in 
the 2004 political season. Dean, who backed the creation of civil unions 
for gays and lesbians in Vermont, has said gay marriage should be left 
to the realm of churches.

Just how much Dean will inject religion into his campaign, Hess said, 
remains to be seen. He pointed to an appearance at an African-American 
church in Columbia, S.C., as an example of what voters might hear in the 
future.

There, before nearly 100 parishioners, Dean said in a rhythmic tone 
notably different from his usual stampede through policy points, "In 
this house of the Lord, we know that the power rests in God's hands and 
in Jesus's hands for helping us. But the power also is on this, God's 
earth -- Remember Jesus said, `Render unto God those things that are 
God's but unto Caesar those things that are Caesar's,' " a reference to 
Jesus's admonition that the secular and religious remain separate.

Dean continued: "In this political season there is also other power. Not 
as important or as strong as the power of Jesus but it's important power 
in the world of politics and the world of Caesar."

Dean's own religious background is a complex mix. His mother is 
Catholic, but he was raised Episcopal like his father, a warden in the 
Episcopal church the family attended near their weekend home in East 
Hampton, N.Y. Dean attended St. George's, a boarding school in Newport, 
R.I., where he went to church "literally every day and twice on Sunday."

Religion was a private matter for Dean growing up. "My father used to 
tell us how much strength he got from religion, but we didn't have Bible 
readings. There are traditions where people do that. We didn't," he 
said. "People in the Northeast don't talk about their religion. It's a 
very personal private matter, and that's the tradition I was brought up in."

While attending Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, he met 
his wife, Judith Steinberg, who is Jewish. The two were married by a 
judge, and neither opted to convert, Dean said, because both felt 
strongly about their respective religions.

"We considered becoming Unitarian as sort of a compromise that wasn't 
going to respect either person's tradition," Dean said. "But you know, 
our religions mattered enough that we didn't really want to change."

The couple's two children, Anne, a sophomore at Yale University, and 
Paul, a high school senior in Burlington, were given their choice of 
religion. Both chose Judaism.

Dean himself made a decision about religion in the early 1980s, opting 
to leave the local Episcopal church when it sided with landowners 
seeking to preserve private property in lieu of a bike path in Burlington.

"Churches are institutions that are about doing the work of God on 
earth, and I didn't think [opposing the bike path] was very Godlike and 
thought it was hypocritical of me to be a member of such an 
institution," Dean said.

Dean chose Congregationalism -- a denomination, he said, that suits him, 
because "there is no centralized -- almost no centralized authority 
structure -- and I like that."

Dean does not attend church regularly, but he said he prays daily.

He is a steadfast believer in separation of church and state, he said, 
and opposes the placement of the Ten Commandments in a courthouse, is 
uncomfortable with a prayer invocation before a congressional session, 
though he would leave the matter to Congress, and is not bothered by the 
phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

On the issue of a moment of silence in schools, Dean said, "Whatever the 
courts say is OK with me." The US Supreme Court has struck down 
state-required moments of silence in schools.

Of the president's faith-based initiative for social services, Dean 
said, it is "overdone."

"It's not a bad thing to have churches involved in delivering social 
services, but I think the president has used it to reward certain 
churches and make it less likely for others churches to prosper," he said.

Asked whether a presidential candidate could win without talking about 
religious faith, Dean said, "Dick Nixon and Ronald Reagan never said 
much about religion. I think it's important, and you have to respect 
other people's religious beliefs and honor them, but you don't have to 
pander to them."

He added, "That's why I don't get offended when George Bush or Joe 
Lieberman talk about their religion . . . I have a feeling it has 
something to do with them as a human being, and they are entitled to 
talk about what makes them human."



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