Learning English - Words in the News
09 August, 2004 - Published 15:19 GMT
Religion and politics in the USA
In the United States, the Democratic Party's attempts to attract religious voters ahead of the November elections have had a significant setback. This report from Jane Little:
The Republicans publicly court the powerful religious right while the Democrats have traditionally been deemed secular and even hostile to religion. It was to counter that image that first Mara Vanderslice and then the Reverend Brenda Bartella Peterson were appointed to act as advisors and reach out to religious voters.
America is a deeply devout country and there were complaints that the Kerry Campaign was ignoring its base. But Mara Vanderslice's profile sank after the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights accused her of far left politics including an active role in anti-globalisation rallies.
A fortnight ago the Reverend Peterson was appointed. But the Catholic League outed her as a signatory of a legal brief that supported taking the words "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance. That, said League President, William Donohue, meant she showed more concern for atheists than for the ninety percent of Americans who believe in God. He asked if the Democrats were "out of their minds" in appointing her.
She swiftly resigned citing the negative publicity. A spokesman for the Democrats said there would be another appointment soon. But the Kerry Campaign appears divided on religion. John Kerry recently spoke of his faith, but he's more awkward about it than the born again President Bush. The Democrats have been trying to steal the Republicans’ clothes on religion but they don't yet know how to wear them.
Jane Little, BBC
counter that image
reach out to
ignoring its base
out of their minds
steal the Republicans’ clothes