Bush Policies on Church-State Issues Blasted at R.I. Event

Church & State, October 2003 | Go to article overview

Bush Policies on Church-State Issues Blasted at R.I. Event


State and federal lawmakers blasted President George W. Bush's policies on church-state separation during an Aug. 17 event at historic Touro Synagogue in Newport, R.I.

The legislators had gathered for the annum reading of George Washington's 1790 letter to the synagogue vowing that the religious freedom rights of Jews would be protected in the United States. The letter is an important early affirmation of the need for religious liberty and church-state separation in America.

Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline used the occasion to chastise Bush for trying to merge religion and government.

"[Bush] uses the authority of the presidency to involve this government more fully in religious matters--a danger to all religions, a danger to the survival of our democracy, a danger to our people," Cicilline said, the Providence Journal reported.

Continued Cicilline, "This administration has engaged in policies that have clearly blurred the line separating church and state. They have blurred that line more than any other administration."

Cicilline went on to criticize Bush for promoting faith-based initiatives.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) was also on hand. After the ceremony, Reed told the Journal, "[Bush has] proposed many initiatives that would directly give money to religious institutions that could discriminate in hiring and proselytize. Policies should respect the separation of church and state, and it's dangerous what this administration is doing with their faith-based initiatives."

U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) echoed that concern, remarking, "The foundation of our nation's Constitution is the separation of church and state. …

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