Magazine article The Christian Century

Christian Coalition Boos Democratic Chief

Magazine article The Christian Century

Christian Coalition Boos Democratic Chief

Article excerpt

Democratic Party Chairman David Wilhelm said he felt like a "fur salesman at an animal rights convention" when he appeared September 10 before a gathering of 2,000 supporters of the conservative Christian Coalition. That moment of rhetorical lightheartedness turned out to be an accurate simile. When Wilhelm criticized the coalition's political tactics and defended his own views on religion's relation to politics the audience responded with sporadic outbreaks of boos and hisses.

"I am a Christian, and I am a Democrat," Wilhelm declared to the gathering." While the two terms may have been mutually exclusive to most of his listeners, audible groans and hisses broke out when Wilhelm argued that "the Democratic Party is and always has been a party of values. And those values are at least as richly informed by religious beliefs and moral principles as the party you have chosen to align yourselves with... the Republican Party." Political insiders suggest that the Christian Coalition invited Wilhelm to address the conservative assembly's annual conference in Washington, D.C., as part of its effort to reshape its image from that of a special-interest Republican organization to a more broadly based nonaligned political movement.

"God and faith are not and cannot be the province of one political party or movement," the Democrat chairman said. "God is an independent." Wilhelm contended that "most Americans are troubled by the implication that religious values dictate one position or one path in politics" and stressed the place of religious tolerance in American history. He also emphasized that his own general political agenda--"striving for justice, strengthening our families, generating economic opportunity... and again creating a broad sense of responsibility and community" in the country--is rooted in his own personal faith. …

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