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Rep. Harris Condemns Separation of Church, State

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By Jim Stratton
Orlando Sentinel
Saturday, August 26, 2006

ORLANDO, Aug. 25 -- Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) said this week that God did not intend for the United States to be a "nation of secular laws" and that the separation of church and state is a "lie we have been told" to keep religious people out of politics.

"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris told interviewers from the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She cited abortion and same-sex marriage as examples of that sin.

Harris, a candidate in the Sept. 5 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, said her religious beliefs "animate" everything she does, including her votes in Congress.

Witness editors interviewed candidates for office, asking them to describe their faith and their positions on certain issues.

Harris has always professed a deep Christian faith. But she has rarely expressed such a fervent evangelical perspective publicly.

Political and religious officials responded to her published remarks with outrage and dismay.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said she was "disgusted" by the comments "and deeply disappointed in Representative Harris personally."

Harris, Wasserman Schultz said, "clearly shows that she does not deserve to be a representative."

Ruby Brooks, a veteran Tampa Bay Republican activist, said Harris's remarks "were offensive to me as a Christian and a Republican."

"This notion that you've been chosen or anointed, it's offensive," Brooks said. "We hurt our cause with that more than we help it."

Harris told the journalists "we have to have the faithful in government" because that is God's will. Separating religion and politics is "so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers," she said.

"And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women," then "we're going to have a nation of secular laws. That's not what our Founding Fathers intended, and that certainly isn't what God intended."

Harris campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Marks would not answer questions about the Harris interview. Instead, she released a two-sentence statement.

"Congresswoman Harris encourages Americans from all walks of life and faith to participate in our government," it stated. "She continues to be an unwavering advocate of religious rights and freedoms."


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