comments made by Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National
Committee, make it “clear that he wants to muzzle America's churches
and religious groups from professing what they believe on important
issues facing our society,” said a national Catholic-based advocacy
Fidelis was reacting to an article in Christian Science Monitor in which Dean said: “The religious community has to decide whether they want to be tax-exempt or involved in politics.”
“When it comes to debates over public policy and issues, Dean should be welcoming the voice of America’s churches, not attempting to silence them,” said Fidelis president Joseph Cella. “Instead, Dean has shown utter disregard for people of faith by threatening the historical and treasured role of religious groups and churches in American public life.”
“Under Howard Dean's rules, pastors, priests, and rabbis wouldn't have been able to mobilize people of faith to join the civil rights marches in Selma and Montgomery,” said Cella.
“In essence, Dean is saying that if religious groups want to continue to speak out, then the hand of government is going to exact a penalty,” Cella continued. Comments like these alienate religious voters, he added.
“Dean's blatant hostility toward any church or religious group calls into serious question his supposed outreach to values-voters following the 2004 elections,” Cella suggested.