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THE RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE

Democrat's Religion Czar Out Over Stance on Pledge

August 07, 2004|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The director of religious outreach for the Democratic Party says she resigned this week because of criticism over her support for removing the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Democratic National Committee is seeking a replacement for the Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson, who resigned Wednesday after serving less than two weeks in the newly created position. DNC spokesman Jano Cabrera said the party had nothing to add to her resignation statement.

The Catholic League, a conservative anti-defamation group based in New York, criticized the political views of Peterson, an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), in three statements issued over the first three days of the week.

Peterson cited "recent negative publicity" from an amicus brief in the pledge case that she and 31 other members of the clergy signed.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that a Sacramento-area atheist did not have standing to bring a lawsuit on his daughter's behalf challenging the words "under God" in the pledge. The decision overturned a federal appeals court's ruling that the pledge was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion when recited in public schools.

"I feel it is no longer possible for me to do my job effectively. I do not want my support of this case to serve as a distraction or ammunition for Republicans and their allies," Peterson said.

"I continue to believe, as do leading faith leaders across this country, that John Kerry should be the next president of the United States and that John Kerry's values of opportunity, family and responsibility are America's values."

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