Liberals Seek To Ban Bible, Says Republican Election Mailing

In an effort to mobilize religious conservatives before the election, Republican\n Party officials mailed fliers to voters in Arkansas and West Virginia asserting\n that “liberals” seek to ban the Bible.

The mailing included a picture of a Bible with the word “banned” over\n it as well as an image of a gay marriage proposal with the words “allowed” over\n it.

The mailing to Arkansas read, “This will be Arkansas…if you\n don’t vote.”

U.S. Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), the Democratic vice presidential nominee,\n called on President George W. Bush to pull the fliers and apologize, but GOP\n officials refused and went on to defend the content of the mailing.

In an e-mail message to The New York Times, Christine Iverson, a\n spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, wrote, “When the Massachu­setts\n Supreme Court sanctioned same-sex marriage and people in other states realized\n they could be compelled to recognize those laws, same-sex marriage became an\n issue. These same activist judges also want to remove the words ‘under\n God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Asked by The Times to comment on the mailing, Richard Land, president\n of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Religious Liberty Commission, said\n he believes some people want to categorize criticism of gays as hate speech.

“We have the First Amendment in this country which should protect churches,\n but there is no question that this is where some people want to go, that reading\n from the Bible could be hate speech,” Land said.

But Land conceded that the mailing may have gone too far in implying that\n Democrats favor this approach.

“I wouldn’t say it,” he said. “I would think that\n is probably stretching it a bit far.”

As the national elections drew to a close in October, religion and politics\n were often intertwined. Here are some of those developments:

• Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry met\n with a group of African-American clergy at East Mount Zion Baptist Church in\n Cleveland Oct. 3 to promote his campaign. He was accompanied by newly appointed\n senior adviser Jesse Jackson. According to The New York Times, Kerry\n campaign staffer Bill Lynch said, “We are going to try to get Kerry into\n an African-American church every Sunday to deliver his message.” The\n newspaper said the Bush campaign is also doing outreach to black clergy.

• Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis has issued\n a stern pastoral letter suggesting that it is a sin for Roman Catholics to\n vote for candidates who support abortion rights, same-sex marriage and three\n other “life” concerns. Other issues, he said, are less important.\n In the Oct. 1 missive, Burke declared, “Pro­cured abortion and homosexual\n acts are intrinsically evil, and, as such, can never be justified in any circumstance.\n Although war and capital punishment can rarely be justified, they are not intrinsically\n evil….”

Some parishioners were unimpressed with Burke’s political decree.

Barbara Harris told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “He’s\n out of line. He doesn’t have the right to tell people who to vote for.\n That’s each person’s personal right and freedom.”