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Interfaith Parley Sets Principles on Religion in Political Campaigns

A two-day conference of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish leaders in Washington, has resulted in the formulation of five basic principles to govern the discussion of religion in the 1960 political campaigns, it was announced by Rabbi Max D. Davidson, president of the Synagogue Council of America.

Rabbi Uri Miller of Baltimore, vice-president of the Synagogue Council, and Rabbi Bernard Bamberger, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis were the two Jewish representatives at the meeting. The Synagogue Council of America is the national coordinating agency of the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox national congregational and rabbinic associations. The five principles which emerged from the discussion were:

1. It is proper and desirable that every public official should attempt to govern his conduct by a personal conscience that is formed by his religious faith.

2. No candidate for public office should be opposed or supported because of his particular religious affiliation.

3. A candidate should be judged by his qualifications for the office he seeks and by his position on issues relevant to that office. He may properly be questioned about such issues and about the bearing of his religious faith and conscience on them. A candidate’s religion is relevant to a voter’s decision, but only so far as it bears on such political issues.

4. Stirring up, fostering or tolerating religious animosity or injecting elements of a candidate’s faith not relevant to the duties of the office he seeks are unfair campaign practices.

5. Intelligent, honest and temperate public discussions of the relation of religious faith to the public issues will, as it has already done, raise the whole level of the campaign.

The conference was sponsored by the Fair Election Campaign Practices Committee. The five principles will be widely distributed by all three religious groups in an effort to keep bigotry and prejudice out of the forthcoming presidential election campaign.

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