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Week Ending January 2, 2004
Religious Freedom Coalition
January 2, 2004 10:42AM EST



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On December 30th USA Today ran an editorial cartoon picturing a check written from the Bush/Cheney Committee to Howard Dean for President with a memo that said "keep talking." Republicans think that Howard Dean as the Democrat front runner in the primaries is just a big laugh. I don't think it is funny, I think it is sad.

It says something about our nation that a great political party consisting of millions of Americans could possibly pick someone as mentally unstable as Howard Dean to lead their party and carry their banner into a national election. I have just made a comment about Dean (that he is mentally unstable) that has not been printed anywhere, but has been said privately in newsrooms and boardrooms across the nation. No one, not even Governor Howard Dean, can tell what is going to come from his mouth next.

I was shocked to watch him at a rally in San Francisco when he growled out loud that he wasn't going to listen to any preachers . That was a few weeks ago. Then in New Hampshire during an interview on Christmas Day with the Boston Globe, he stated that he would emphasize his Christianity as soon as he began to campaign in the South. What?

Let's take a closer look at Howard Dean and religion. His mother was a Catholic and his father an Episcopalian. He was raised in the Episcopal Church and pretty much stayed there until he met his wife in medical school. His bride, the former Judith Steinberg, is Jewish. He did not convert to Judaism and she did not want to become a Christian. He and his wife have stated that they almost became Unitarians as a compromise. Compromise? Unitarians do not believe in a living God. The basic belief of that "church" is sort of a fuzzy universalism ... "we are all a part of God." Most Unitarians are either agnostics or atheists and they surely do not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ.

It gets worse: the Deans told their children to pick a religion, any religion, and that they would not get involved in their decision one way or the other. The kids did, and both chose Judaism, which should give everyone a good idea of the kind of witness for Christ Howard Dean has been to his two children. Sometime in the 1980's he left the Episcopal Church where he was a member over a dispute about the route of a public bike path through the church property. Excuse me? Now,  someone  may leave a church if they ordain  female deacons or  recruit a homosexual music minister ... but a bike path? He then moved to a Congregationalist Church which he rarely, if ever, attends.

So Howard Dean is a Christian just like Bush the Methodist or Gephardt the Baptist? Not really. When asked about Christ he told the Boston Globe on Christmas Day that, "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."

Christ was "someone", "a person", "an extraordinary example"? Nowhere in any of his comments can I find Howard Dean referring to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, as a part of the Trinity, or being in any way divine. Indeed, he talks of Christ in the past tense, as if He had died in the human sense. Perhaps Howard Dean would have been better off in a Unitarian Church, but then he would have had trouble winning any elections as a member of a near atheistic institution.

Congressman Gephardt, Senator Lieberman and other Democrats do have a rudder of faith to guide them. Howard Dean lacks that rudder and this is precisely why his "deeply held beliefs" vary from day to day. One day he said he did not know if Osama bin Laden was guilty of 9-11 and that the man should get a fair trial. The next day he said Osama deserves the death penalty. He has stated that the United States should receive "permission" from the United Nations before waging war and then said that the Iraqi people must determine their own fate. Howard Dean is not of a single mind, he knows not where he stands on any given issue from one day to the next. The situation is not funny; it is pathetic and dangerous.

EXAMPLE: Suppose Dean gets the Democrat nomination and is trailing by 15 points when the President dies of a heart attack while running the Marine Marathon in October, 2004. Cheney, who is perhaps no more of a social conservative than Dean, becomes President and is at the top of the Republican ticket. The Christian right envisions Cheney's lesbian daughter being married to her female lover in the White House, and they just don't vote. The Muslims join with the unions, the gays, the socialists and the loony greens to vote Dean in, and we have a madman in the White House in January '05.

Now are you scared? You should be. The fact that Howard Dean can raise tens of millions of dollars and attract millions of supporters who really don't care what he says should scare all Americans and the rest of the world as well. While Karl Rove may be ecstatic over the Democrats picking Howard Dean as their standard bearer, I am not. Further, I am sure that President George W. Bush would prefer to run on his merits and his faith against a more worthy opponent than Howard Dean.



The marriage issue looked like a slam dunk for Republicans. They were to stand up for traditional marriage and the Democrats were going to follow the gay agenda. It isn't working out that way. In an editorial this week the Atlanta Journal stated that the White House has a "...more liberal view of civil unions than was taken even by the administration of Bill Clinton, who in 1996 signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act allowing states to refuse to acknowledge such unions established in other states." The editorial continues that the White House is trying to appease both the Christian right and the pro-gay Log Cabin Republicans and that this just cannot be done. No it can't, and there is dead silence from Republican congressmen and Senators on the issue as they try to figure out what to do with the White House stance on civil unions.

Accordingly, there is a huge split in the conservative community between those who will back the President no matter what and those who say a stand must be made to keep marriage as a traditional institution with no substitutes. Social conservative leaders, including myself, will meet later this month in Washington, DC to once again attempt to forge a single policy on marriage with the Republican leaders and the White House. I seriously doubt the meeting will be successful. In the end, I believe we will see civil unions codified as an alternate form of marriage. This will be applauded at first, until millions of young adults and the elderly join in civil unions and it becomes obvious that Republicans have created an alternative to marriage that will have the effect of destroying the actual institution of marriage itself.

I do believe that President George W. Bush believes the institution of marriage is ordained by God as he has said. I do not believe, however, that the forces in the White House pushing him to endorse civil unions understand the full ramifications of their efforts.


I will travel to the West Bank either the first or last week of February to visit the Christian schools and families supported there by the Religious Freedom Coalition . As I mentioned last week, the city of Bethlehem was 95% Christian just 20 years ago and now Christians are less than 20%. The Muslims under Yassar Arafat have forced Christians out of their businesses and homes. A family I have known for almost two decades ran hotels and tourist shops in Bethlehem. Their hotels are in rubble and their tourist store boarded up. The family, wealthy Christians, have for the most part fled to Switzerland. Many other Palestinian Christians have fled to Australia and the United States. This organization and I will continue to work with the Christians in the Holy Land until the last one is run off or killed. We will not abandon our brothers in Christ. Year end tax deductible contributions to our work on the West Bank can be made here.


Congress will not reconvene until January 20th. That week we will return to our normal format reporting on social conservative legislation. Between now and then I will try to keep you updated on what social conservative organizations are doing here in Washington, DC to get ready for the return of Congress.

William J. Murray, Chairman - Religious Freedom Coalition

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