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October 15, 2002

DeLay to Israel Backers: Support Christian Candidates

Listed in: Separation of Church and State, NJDC News, Press Releases

Washington, DC: At a Christian Coalition rally in support of Israel on Friday, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) called upon those gathered to support and work for Christian political candidates. According to Saturday's Washington Post, DeLay - the third-ranking Republican in the House, with aspirations to be the House Majority Leader in the 108th Congress - told the crowd: "This is the week you put people in office who stand for everything we believe in and stand unashamedly with Jesus Christ."

"Mr. DeLay's support of Israel is appreciated by many in the Jewish community. But his repeated statements of religious exclusivity threaten the atmosphere of religious freedom that our nation was founded upon," said National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ira N. Forman. "First Mr. Delay suggested in April that Christianity is the correct faith, arguing that only Christianity offers 'viable, reasonable, definitive' answers to life's philosophical questions. Now Mr. Delay says that Christian candidates are the best ones to elect, and the ones we should be working for across the country. Such statements are simply damaging and wrong.

"A major Jewish conference would never hear a call from a central speaker to elect only Jewish candidates to office; on the contrary, members of the Jewish community - like other Americans - support candidates who agree with us on the issues. Jews who take their religion seriously do not believe that others must share their Jewish faith to properly represent them. In this civil society, we should all be able to agree that there should be no religious litmus test before choosing which lever to pull in the voting booth.

"When it comes to the inclusive, heterogeneous nature of American society and the inherent dangers of religious exclusivism, Tom DeLay clearly still does not get it."