Magazine article The Christian Century

Democrats' New Faith Outreach Director Quits

Magazine article The Christian Century

Democrats' New Faith Outreach Director Quits

Article excerpt

After less than two weeks on the job, the Democratic Party's first-ever director of religious outreach resigned suddenly after her public positions came under fire.

Brenda Bartella Peterson said on August 4 it was "no longer possible for me to do my job effectively" after the New York--based Catholic League issued three blistering press releases attacking her positions.

"As of today I am resigning my position as the director of religious outreach because it is no longer possible for me to do my job effectively," Peterson said in a statement to Religion News Service. "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."

Peterson, who was hired by the Democratic National Committee on July 23, is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) who was once pastor of a church in Kentucky. In recent months she has been the director of the Clergy Leadership Network, a fledgling platform for liberal clergy opposing President Bush. The network has straggled, however, to gain funds and national attention.

Calls to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which had tried to ignore the controversy generated by the conservative Catholic League, were not returned. After releasing her statement of resignation, Peterson declined further comment.

(Albert Pennybacker, of Lexington, Kentucky, chairman of the Clergy Leadership Network, told the CENTURY that he was "startled" to hear that Peterson had quit the new post. Pennybacker, a former National Council of Churches official, served on the platform committee for the Democratic Party. Referring to Catholic League criticisms, he said that he blamed "this kind of typically extreme right attack" for discouraging "moderate, progressive and liberal" voices from being heard.)

The Catholic League blasted Peterson for having signed on to a "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court along with 31 other clergy to support removing "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. The league also criticized left-leaning positions on taxes and gay marriage taken by the Clergy Leadership Network. …

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