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June 20, 2005

Veteran Republican Alleges Democratic “War on Christianity” on House Floor

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

NJDC: "Enough is Enough; The GOP's Religion-Bating Must Stop"

Washington, DC: During a debate today surrounding an amendment by Rep. David Obey (D-WI) to fully examine allegations of proselytizing and religious intolerance at the United States Air Force Academy, six-term Republican Rep. John Hostettler (IN) rose to assert that "Democrats can't help denigrating and demonizing Christians." [Rush transcript.] Rep. Obey, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, interrupted Hostettler's deeply disturbing remarks and demanded that they be formally retracted; Hostettler ultimately agreed to retract one sentence from his diatribe.

Earlier in his remarks, Hostettler discussed the drive by Democrats to erase every "vestige" of Christianity from America; he also prefaced his remarks by noting that "The long war on Christianity today continues on the floor of the House of Representatives." During a meeting of the House Armed Services Committee on May 18th, while debating a similar amendment by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), Hostettler referred to "the mythical wall separation (sic) between church and state that's been erected by the courts."

"Enough with the religion-bating already; the GOP and conservatives must stop attacking Democrats as being against Christians and against faith in America. Such ludicrous assertions and stereotypes coarsen our political debate, they have no place in civil discourse in this country, and they are utterly beneath one of America's two major political parties," said National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ira N. Forman. "The heroic efforts by Representatives Obey and Israel supporting religious expression by people of all faiths at the Air Force Academy -- including people of no faith -- are hardly an attack on Christians, as Mr. Hostettler disturbingly alleged.

"In fact, Reps. Obey and Israel are working to protect the religious liberty of every American, which is exactly what our military has fought to protect again and again. If anything, Rep. Hostettler's shocking display demonstrates just the type of religious intolerance that Reps. Obey and Israel were seeking to address. But the GOP has had their say today, and sadly voted down the Obey amendment.

"Today on the floor of the U.S. House, we've seen Republicans overrule Democratic efforts to squarely address proselytizing and religious intimidation at the Air Force Academy, and perhaps more shockingly, we've seen a key Republican allege a Democratic 'war on Christianity.' On both counts, they just don't get it," Forman added.