Ford, Carter Urged to Repudiate Religious Bias in Election Campaign

Leaders of four major faith groups today called upon President Ford and Democratic Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter to “repudiate appeals to religious bigotry” in the current election campaign, as evident in “vote-Christian” drives in a number of Congressional districts by right-wing extremists in both Republican and Democratic parties.

The four–Rev. Paul Moore Jr., Bishop, the Diocese of New York of the Protestant Episcopal Church; Father Joseph O’Hare, editor-in-chief of America, a Jesuit publication; Dr. Arnold L. Olson, retiring president of the Evangelical Free Church of America: and Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, national director, Interreligious Affairs Department, American Jewish Committee–joined at a news conference at the offices of the AJCommittee and issued a joint statement pointing out that religious bigotry had remained “gratifyingly absent” from the Presidential race. They added that such appeals had “become alarmingly evident in a number of Congressional contests.”

The statement concluded with a call to both Ford and Carter and to national, state and local committees of the Democratic and Republican Parties, to reject forcefully any campaign appeals based on the religion a candidate may profess.

The religious leaders referred in their statement to election drives, reportedly in at least 30 Congressional districts, to elect “God centered citizens” who will work to “rebuild” America as a “Christian republic.”

CITE CASE HISTORIES

Among the details provided both in their statement and in an accompanying appendix of case histories were these:

*In the Republican Senatorial primary in Arizona, anti-Semitic calls and threats were levelled at Sam Steiger, a Jewish candidate, while his opponent, John B. Conlan, was quoted as telling Evangelical audiences: “A vote for Conlan is a vote for Christianity. We need to elect a Christian Congress.”

*In a five-sided Democratic Congressional primary in the Fifth District of Texas, candidates were questioned in detail about their religious beliefs, and their replies were publicly “rated” and these ratings were distributed to church members.

*A “White People’s Committee to Restore God’s Law,” at an outdoor rally in Hot Springs. Arkansas, on Sept. 5, 1976, distributed literature proclaiming “The Anti-Christ Must Go” and “Only Righteous Christian Men in Public Office.”

Among the organizations listed in another appendix were: The Christian Freedom Foundation of Washington, D.C.; Third Century Publishers, Arlington, Virginia; The Christian Embassy. Washington, D.C.; The Campus Crusade for Christ, headed by Bill Bright, businessman; The Intercessors for America, allied with the Christian Freedom Foundation and Third Century Publisher through interlocking directorates.

REVEALS ‘CHRISTIAN YELLOW PAGES’

At the meeting, the AJCommittee also distributed a copy of the front page of the “Miami. Dade Christian Yellow Pages” which identifies itself as “A telephone directory of born-again Christian business and professional persons–January, 1976 to January, 1977.” This is contained within a large cross which takes up the entire page. The next page shows a list of offices in Miami, San Francisco, Dallas, and Modesto, California and is identified as Volume 1-No. 1.

On the same page is a statement titled “The CYP Concept” which announces, in part: “Those whose advertisements appear in the CYP directory have declared orally and in writing that this is their position in Christ–and are standing up and being counted as Christians in our community. One of the primary purposes of the CYP directory is to strengthen the Christian community in which it is being published by pointing out some of the many businesses owned by Christians–there are offering the entire community the opportunity to do business with Christian business people.”

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