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    Leader of Christian group contradicts new DCF chief

    ©Associated Press
    August 19, 2002

    MIAMI -- The new head of the state's child welfare agency severed his ties with a Christian group several years after it issued a paper that promotes spanking and demeans women, the group's president said.

    Jerry Regier, named by Gov. Jeb Bush as the new head of the Department of Children and Families, has been criticized for his association with the Coalition on Revival, which funded and issued the 1989 document called "The Christian World View of the Family."

    Regier, who is listed on the paper's cover page as co-chairman of the group, said in a statement Friday that he severed his ties with the organization about a year after the paper was published because of the group's extreme interpretations of the Bible.

    But Jay Grimstead, president of the Coalition on Revival, told the Miami Herald for a Sunday story that Regier left the group sometime around 1994 or 1995, politely declining to take part in another project because he had taken a high-level government job in Oklahoma.

    "He told me in a friendly letter that he was now working for the government, and from my recollection, that it was best for him to disassociate himself from the group. He expressed concern as to how others would view his involvement in such a group," Grimstead said Saturday from his home in Murphys, Calif.

    Regier did not give Grimstead the impression that he was cutting ties with the group because he thought its views were extreme, he said.

    "It was a kind letter. I don't think he had changed his thinking or spiritual views, but, of course, I don't know for sure," Grimstead said.

    Grimstead said Regier did not write the paper, but instead mostly "guided, directed and collected information" that was then passed on to Grimstead, who billed himself as the "general editor" of the project.

    Bush's spokeswoman, Katie Muniz, said Regier "was very firm in stating he was concerned about the coalition's biblical interpretations and leanings."

    "I cannot imagine there is really a story about two men's differing recollections," Muniz said. "The bottom line is the relationship with the coalition was terminated. He remembers 1995, Mr. Regier recalls 1989. Whatever the date, his relationship with the coalition was severed due to his discomfort with many of their extremist views."

    Regier's wife, Sharon, declined comment when contacted Sunday at her home in Oklahoma City and referred calls to Muniz.

    Regier, 57, was appointed Thursday by Bush to replace Kathleen Kearney, who resigned Tuesday.

    Democrats have criticized Regier for his involvement with the paper. It says Christians shouldn't marry non-Christians, couples should only be allowed to divorce in cases of adultery or abandonment. It also says spanking that causes bruising and welts is okay and that married women shouldn't have careers.

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