State of Belief Counts Down Top Ten Abuses of Religion in Politics

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(Washington, D.C.) – On this Sunday’s “State of Belief,” The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Reverend Welton Gaddy plays highlights of the 9th Annual Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Awards Gala, which honored actor George Clooney.  Also Rev. Gaddy lists the top ten worst abuses of religion in politics from the 2006 campaign season.

Mr. Clooney accepted The Interfaith Alliance’s annual award at a sold-out gala organized to celebrate Walter Cronkite’s 90th birthday.  Mr. Cronkite, a vocal supporter of The Interfaith Alliance for over a decade, is a long-time friend of George Clooney’s family.  The Interfaith Alliance honored George Clooney for his work to advance the cause of liberty through film and his commitment to a compassionate political agenda.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Clooney said he supports the mission of religious diversity that The Interfaith Alliance advances.  “I don’t live in a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim nation,” he said.  “I am proud to live in a country of Christians, Jews, and Muslims.” Mr. Clooney also called Americans to stand up and protect the First Amendment. “It’s a very interesting thing that it’s somehow ‘progressive’ to argue for things that were written in the Constitution about 230 years ago,” he said.

Also on the show, Rev. Gaddy does his imitation of David Letterman’s Top Ten List, counting down the worst violations of the separation of church and state in the current election campaign.  The list ranges from the “Patriot Pastors” movement in Ohio to the filming of a campaign commercial in Tennessee.  The dubious honor of being number one falls on Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who told his campaign staff to “get each pastor to invite 5 ‘money people’ whom he knows can help” finance his campaign.

Journalist and First Amendment scholar Jeff Sharlett joins Rev. Gaddy to discuss the list, which features abuses from liberal, moderate, and conservative candidates from both parties.  “What is new this year are desperate Democrats mimicking Republican tactics,” said Sharlett.  “That is a signal that the exploitation of religion is a standard feature in campaigns.  If you want to be elected, you have to prove your piety.”