tampabay.com

Rival criticizes Harris' comment on religion

By ANITA KUMAR
Published August 27, 2006


U.S. Senate candidate Peter Monroe called on rival Katherine Harris to resign from Congress on Saturday for controversial remarks she made to a weekly religious journal.

Harris told the Florida Baptist Witness that God and the nation's founding fathers did not intend the country be "a nation of secular laws," and that if Christians are not elected to office politicians will "legislate sin."

"Katherine Harris is an embarrassment to the Republican Party, the United States House of Representatives, the State of Florida and herself," Monroe said. "Her view of the world is warped, twisted and disgraceful. ... She is no longer fit to serve."

On Saturday, Harris' campaign tried to clarify her comments, saying she was speaking to a Christian audience as someone who has a deep grounding in Judeo-Christian values, addressing a common misperception that people of faith should not be actively involved in government.

"I joined this campaign because Congresswoman Harris is a passionate supporter of Israel, the Jewish people and always has the best interests of all Floridians at heart," Bryan Rudnick, Harris' campaign manager wrote in a statement. "As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I know that she encourages people of all faiths to engage in government so that our country can continue to thrive on the principles set forth by our Founding Fathers, without malice towards anyone."

The campaign also outlined a series of "pro-Israel legislation" that Harris supported including bills that honor the life of Simon Wiesenthal and reaffirm Congress' commitment to the fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance; recognize the 58th anniversary of the independence of the State of Israel and push for the European Union to add Hezbollah to its list of terrorist organizations.

Harris, a two-time congresswoman from Longboat Key and a Republican candidate for Senate, made the comments in the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention on Thursday. Others candidates for Senate and Governor were interviewed about religion and some specific issues.

Separation of church and state is "a lie we have been told," Harris said in the interview, adding that separating religion and politics is "wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers."

"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," she said.

Harris and Monroe are vying for the Republican nomination, along with retired admiral LeRoy Collins of Tampa and Orlando lawyer Will McBride.