The folowing letter
was sent on December 20, 1999 to each of the eight candidates
then seeking the Democratic and Republican party nominations for
president: Bill Bradley, Al Gore, Gary Bauer, George W. Bush,
Steve Forbes, Orrin G. Hatch, Alan Keyes and John McCain
December 20, 1999
We are writing to all major party
Presidential candidates to address a concern which has emerged
in the 2000 Presidential campaign. Our concern relates to the
appropriate role of religion and attestations of religious faith
in the political election process.
As an organization rooted in
the Jewish community, the Anti-Defamation League clearly supports
and respects the right of any candidate for public office to believe
and to worship as he or she chooses. Freedom of religion is one
of our nation's most cherished liberties, and safeguarding that
freedom is one of ADL's highest priorities.
Candidates should feel comfortable
explaining their religious convictions to voters. At the same
time, however, we believe there is a point at which an emphasis
on religion in a political campaign becomes inappropriate and
even unsettling in a religiously diverse society such as ours.
We feel very strongly, and we
hope you would agree, that appealing to voters along religious
lines is contrary to the American ideal. Voters should be encouraged
to make their decisions based upon their assessment of the qualifications
and political positions of candidates, not their religiosity.
Furthermore, voters should not be made to feel inferior, or left
out of the process, because they are in a religious minority.
As the current campaign unfolds,
we urge each of you to keep this in mind. Anyone who legitimately
aspires to the Presidency of the United States must be prepared
to set an example and to be a leader for all Americans, of all
faiths. Public profession of religious beliefs should not become
an elemental part of our political campaigns.