HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right- wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division.
“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked,” the Democratic presidential candidate said in remarks prepared for delivery before the national meeting of the United Church of Christ.
“Part of it’s because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who’ve been all too eager to exploit what divides us,” the Illinois senator said.
“At every opportunity, they’ve told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design,” according to an advance copy of his speech.
“There was even a time when the Christian Coalition determined that its number one legislative priority was tax cuts for the rich,” Obama said. “I don’t know what Bible they’re reading, but it doesn’t jibe with my version.”
Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ, a church of about 1.2 million members that is considered one the most liberal of the mainline Protestant groups.