ADL to Santorum: Leave religious appeals out of campaign

(JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League called on Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum to avoid religious appeals to voters. 

Santorum on Jan. 5 told listeners of a Boston radio show that “We always need a Jesus guy” in the campaign, in response to a caller who had commented that the economy was the main issue of the campaign.

"We don’t need a Jesus candidate; we need an economic candidate," the caller said.

"We need someone who believes in something more than themselves and not just the economy," Santorum said. "When we say God bless America, do we mean it or do we just say it?”

Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, said in a statement that Santorum’s "Jesus candidate" remark was "inappropriate and exclusionary."

"It essentially says that those of other faiths or of no faith — whether Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, non-believers or others – do not belong," he said. Foxman said that religious appeals to voters "are simply unacceptable and un-American."

The statement added that the ADL "has long maintained that candidates should feel comfortable explaining their religious convictions to voters, but that there is a point at which an emphasis on religion in a political campaign becomes inappropriate and even unsettling."

[RELATED ARTICLE: Santorum’s social conservatism could be a tough sell for Jews]
 

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