Monday, January 05, 2004

Howard Dean Plays the Religion Card, Badly

Excerpts from a January 4, 2004 New York Times article, because it just needs no other words, and besides, people would think I made this up :

"Little by little, the Lord is seeping into Howard Dean's presidential campaign....The changes come amid concern from several corners about the stridently secular tone of his campaign so far. 'I'm still learning a lot about faith and the South and how important it is,' said Dean last Friday, in contrast to an interview a couple months ago when Dr. Dean plainly stated, 'I don't think that religion ought to be part of the American policy.'

'I'm pretty religious' he responded the other day in Waterloo, Iowa. 'I pray every day, but I'm from New England so I just keep it to myself.'

Asked about his favorite New Testament book, Dr. Dean named Job, adding ,'But I don't like the way it ends. Some would argue, you know, in some of the books of the New Testament, the ending of the Book of Job is different. I think, if I'm not mistaken, there's one book where there's a more optimistic ending, which we believe was tacked on later.'

An hour after his comments, Dr. Dean returned to the clutch of reporters, saying he realized he had misspoken because Job is not in the New Testament. 'Many people believe that the original version of Job is the version where there is not a change. Job ends up completely destitute and ruined. It's been a long time since I looked at this, but it's believed that was added much, much later. Many people believe that the original ending was about the power of God and the power of God was almighty and all knowing and it wasn't necessary that everybody was going to be redeemed.'

Asked again about his favorite part of the New Testament, Dr. Dean said, 'Anything in the Gospels.'

Dr. Dean grew up spending Sundays in an Episcopal church, and attended religious boarding school, but became a Congregationalist after the Episcopal church he belonged to in Burlington, Vt. refused to yield land for a bike path around Lake Champlain that he championed. HIs wife is Jewish and their children observe both traditions, though the family stopped attending services years ago after scolding sermons about once-a-year attendees.

His press secretary, Doug Thornell, telephoned late Friday night to say that Dr. Dean did not mean to imply he was some kind of expert. 'He obviously has read the Bible and knows the passages fairly well,' Mr. Thornell said, 'but just in terms of having a theologian's knowledge of the Bible, he doesn't want to pass on the impressions that he does.' "

Based on Mr. Thornell's comments, I am guessing that Dr. Dean at least knows the Bible better than his press secretary.

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