ADL to Rick Santorum: Keep Emphasis on Religion Out of Campaign

New York, NY, January 6, 2012 … In response to his comment on a radio show that "we always need a Jesus candidate," the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum to refrain from overt expressions of religious preferences and beliefs on the campaign trail, stating that "religious appeals to voters are simply unacceptable and un-American."

"Senator Santorum's remark comparing himself to a 'Jesus candidate' was inappropriate and exclusionary. It essentially says that those of other faiths or of no faith – whether Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, non-believers or others – do not belong," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Religious appeals to voters are simply unacceptable and un-American. Voters should be encouraged to make their decisions based upon their assessment of the qualifications, integrity and political positions of candidates, not the intensity of their religious beliefs."

The League has long maintained that candidates should feel comfortable explaining their religious convictions to voters, but that there is a point at which an emphasis on religion in a political campaign becomes inappropriate and even unsettling.

Sen. Santorum said Thursday in response to a question from a caller on a radio show that he disagreed the economy was the essential issue of the campaign. The caller commented, "We don't need a Jesus candidate; we need an economic candidate," to which Sen. Santorum replied: "My answer to that was, we always need a Jesus candidate. We need someone who believes in something more than themselves and not just the economy. … When we say, "God bless America," do we mean it or do we just say it?"

As a 501c3 non-profit corporation, ADL takes no position on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for office.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.

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