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Religion Motivates Opposition To Keith Ellison

Democratic U.S. Representative Keith Ellison has three opponents in his attempt to gain re-election this year. One’s running with the Republican Party. One’s running with the Independence Party of Minnesota. The other’s an independent candidate. However, they all share one thing in common: They’re running against Ellison from a Christian perspective.

Congressman Keith Ellison is a Muslim, you see, and that’s highly disconcerting to some voters in Minnesota’s 5th congressional district. Barb Davis White and Joel Demos, both Christian preachers, decided to take advantage of this discomfort, and competed for the Republican nomination. When it became clear that Demos would win the Republican contest, White maneuvered to become the Independence Party’s nomination.

Much has been made of their religious identities, include the sermons by Demos suggesting that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are part of struggle against the Anti-Christ. Less attention has been given, however, to the appeal to Christian anxiety about Ellison’s Muslim identity by the race’s independent candidate, Lynne Torgerson.

A quick index of Torgerson’s focus on the issues of her campaign reveals where she places the emphasis in her strategy: She devotes 6 words to environmental issues, 11 words to her experience with gymnastics, 131 words to the issue of health care reform, and 3,470 words to an essay in which she explains her opposition to radical Islam.

Ellison’s opponents may have found religion to be a useful tool for dividing and conquering the electorate, but they would do well to remember the clear standard for political campaigning established in the Constitution: “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States”

4 comments to Religion Motivates Opposition To Keith Ellison

  • Freedom

    I just don’t get it. Joel Demos is such a great candidate running in the fifth on the people’s priority: Job’s, Taxes, and Debt. His religious beliefs have not entered his campaign at all yet people keep pulling up Christian background and belief system. Must he be Muslim as well to run against him? One thing should be clear: STOP MAKING THIS ABOUT RELIGION. It’s not. It’s about the issues.

    • ramone

      he does not support stimulus jobs, he does not want to pay any taxes, and he will not admit that the deficit was wall street and bush and his answer to all our problems is “no”.
      michele should talk to her gal pal, sarah, and help this guy out.
      great candidate.

  • Wait a minute, “freedom”. Joel Demos is on the record saying that the two current wars being waged by the U.S. are part of a religious crusade against some sort of “Anti-Christ”.

    That’s relevant, because if Demos truly believes that, it has a significant impact on his vision of foreign policy. It’s not relevant because it’s religion. It’s relevant because it impacts a matter of public policy.

    There shouldn’t be a religious test for public office. However, when religion contorts a candidate’s public policies into a crazy, twisted shape, then those crazy, twisted public policies should indeed be tested, made available for scrutiny.

    What is the Joel Demos foreign policy? Demos is refusing to address this issue. Why? If he came up with a sane foreign policy that didn’t seem to be driven by fantasies about the End Times, I’m sure people would stop talking about the wacky Demos sermons.

    Demos has yet to deal with the issue of his sermons. He could clear it up with a simple statement, saying something such as “My religion and the religion of Keith Ellison have nothing to do with our qualifications for public office. They should not be the focus of this campaign, and voters who make decisions based on candidates’ religions are making a mistake.” Joel Demos won’t make this kind of statement. Why?

    But, this issue isn’t about just Joel Demos. The other candidates are taking advantage of a current anti-Muslim sentiment as well. What do you say about them?

  • ramone

    hopefully in a four way race the religious bigots will not have as much of an advantage as they thought. we need a moderate muslim in congress for no other reason than to show america that islam is more than jihad. o.k., so, ellison may not meet the criteria for the term “moderate”, but, next to osama bin laden….

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