On Eve of New Hampshire and South Carolina Primaries, New Ads Press Presidential Candidates on Role of Religion and Government
Washington, DC - For the first time in a presidential election, and on the eve of the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, a new series of television and newspapers ads is being launched to urge presidential candidates to protect religious freedom.
At a time when presidential candidates in both political parties are injecting religion into their campaigns at unprecedented levels, the new ads are designed to help provide a clearer understanding of where candidates stand on key issues at the intersection of religion and politics. The ads are scheduled to lead up to the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries later this month.
First Freedom First, a joint project of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and The Interfaith Alliance Foundation, is launching the newprint and TV ads to encourage voters to ask presidential candidates their positions on a wide range of issues, from end-of-life options to protecting the right of all Americans to worship...or not.
The first set of advertisements feature legendary actors Jack Klugman and James Whitmore, and are designed to educate candidates and voters that religion has a place in American life, but not as a political tool.
The Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and an ordained minister noted, "The separation of church and state is what makes America a great nation. At their core, the ads are designed to prompt important conversations about where candidates stand on the critical issue of religious liberty as enshrined in the First Amendment." Lynn continued, "All Americans, whether religious or not, have a right to know where candidates stand on issues that have a real, direct impact on their lives, such as sound science, academic integrity, and protections against religious discrimination. The ads and related questions on the FirstFreedomFirst.org web site are designed to help start the discussion between voters and candidates."
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of The Interfaith Alliance Foundation said,“Religion has played an unusually large role in the 2008 election, and unfortunately it has been used as a gimmick or a divisive tool rather than a unifying force. First Freedom First focuses on important issues that are at the intersection of religion and public policy – issues that our next president must be prepared to deal with.”
In the TV and print ads, Jack Klugman and James Whitmore raise such questions as, "Who will decide my end of life care: politicians and religious right leaders, or my doctor and me?" The ads also ask candidates what they will do to protect the right of all Americans to worship...or not. A web site www.firstfreedomfirst.org is also featured with ten sample questions for voters to ask candidates, such as "Do you think public schools should sponsor school prayer or, as a parent, should this choice be left to me?" and, "Do you think my pharmacist should be allowed to deny me doctor-based prescribed medications based on his or her religious beliefs?"
Klugman noted that he volunteered to participate in the ad campaign saying,"I think these ads speak for a lot of people, both believers and non-believers, who understand that this country is founded on a basic respect for everyone's right to believe whatever they want. It's time we got back to principles that have always made America a great democracy."
To view the 30- and 60-second TV ads:
The print ads can be viewed at www.firstfreedomfirst.org. The ads, produced by Progressive Media Agency, will run up to the primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina. First Freedom First is a joint project of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and The Interfaith Alliance Foundation. For more information about the First Freedom First campaign: www.firstfreedomfirst.org.