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Americans United for Separation of Church and State: Voters Have Heard Enough About the Presidential Candidates and Religion

August 15, 2008
9:00 AM

CONTACT: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
(202) 466-3234
Joe Conn
Rob Boston
Sandhya Bathija

Voters Have Heard Enough About the Presidential Candidates and Religion,
Says Americans United
Watchdog Group Criticizes Saturday Forum on Faith at Saddleback Church
WASHINGTON - August 15 - Voters have heard quite enough about the religious views of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama and don’t need another forum on the presidential candidates and faith, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The church-state watchdog group criticized both candidates’ decision to take part in the Rev. Rick Warren’s “Saddleback Civil Forum” this Saturday at his mega-church in Lake Forest, Calif. McCain and Obama will each submit to hour-long questioning by the church pastor.

“Campaign 2008 is starting to feel like a Sunday school Bible drill,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “We’re electing a president, not a national pastor. I don’t see what good it will do for the American people to again hear the candidates spout pious platitudes about their favorite Bible verses or how devout they are.

“Candidates should appeal to the voters based on their qualifications for office and their stands on the issues, not their religious beliefs,” Lynn said. “This event continues the campaign spiral into religious matters. Americans want to hear the candidates’ views on important issues such as constitutional rights, public education, the Iraq War and the economy.”

Warren, pastor of a 22,000-member evangelical congregation and a best-selling author, has been involved in national politics before. In 2004, he endorsed George W. Bush, saying Bush’s outlook on a series of “non-negotiable” social issues was preferable. This year, Warren claims to have expanded his outlook to include issues like the environment and care of the poor.

The Saddleback event is one of only four events where the two candidates are scheduled to be on the same platform at the same time.

“Why should one of these important events be orchestrated entirely by only one pastor who comes out of one narrow segment of our diverse country?” Lynn asked.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.


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