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White evangelicals are less tolerant of diversity, survey says.

A new survey indicates that when it crones to race and religion, white conservative Protestants are more likely than other Americans to be less tolerant of diversity.

The American Mosaic Project, run by three professors at the University of Minnesota, found that 48.3 percent of white conservative Christians said they would disapprove if their child wanted to marry a black person. Only 21.8 percent of other Americans said they would oppose such a marriage.

The survey also found that white conservative Christians would oppose a son or daughter marrying a Hispanic, an Asian or a Jew at higher levels than others Americans.

Asked to give reasons why there is inequality among races, 31.9 percent of white conservative Christians cited "laws and institutions work against Blacks," while 47.9 percent of other Americans picked that reason.

The survey also found that many Americans harbor animus against nonbelievers. Asked to say if members of certain groups agreed with their vision of society, most respondents felt that atheists were the group they had the least in common with. Fifty-four percent of Americans said atheists share their vision of society. The number for Muslims was 64 percent.

In other news about the Religious Right:

* "Christian nation" advocate David Barton is reaching out to African Americans. Barton recently spoke at a "unity rally" sponsored by a black Republican minister in Lufkin, Texas. During the event, Barton offered his usual cut-and-paste revisionist history that attacks church-state separation. Barton, an official with the state GOP, also blamed the rise of the Ku Klux Klan on the Democratic Party.

An attendee reported that the gathering had clear partisan overtones and appeared to be part of a GOP effort to recruit African Americans.

* John Giles, the president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, stunned allies recently when he announced his conversion to Roman Catholicism. Giles, a vocal supporter of "Ten Commandments" Judge Roy Moore, wrote an eight-page letter explaining his change of affiliation.

Giles told the Associated Press that he had attended several Protestant churches over the years but was drawn to Catholicism. He also said he expects some to disagree with his change.

"We didn't make this change to win friends and influence people and do it from a popularity standpoint, because we knew that in the state of Alabama, this is probably not a popular position to take in the Christian movement," Giles said

* President George W. Bush had a private, 30-minute meeting with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson June 2. Bush met with Dobson before addressing graduates at the U.S. Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs, the same city where Dobson's FOF is located.

Dobson later refused to say what the two discussed.

* The Christian Coalition of Georgia is pressuring candidates for state judicial positions to fill out a questionnaire stating their views on several controversial social issues.

So far, only two judicial candidates have returned the questionnaire. Copies were mailed to candidates for the Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Court of Appeals. The survey asks candidates to respond to several issues, among them abortion, gay rights, vouchers for private schools, prayer at public school graduations and state scholarships for theology majors.

Several candidates have stated publicly that they will not fill out the questionnaire. The Coalition says it will compile the answers in a voter guide and distribute 750,000 copies before the election.

* The Texas Republican Party has adopted a platform plank attacking "the myth of the separation of church and state" and declaring that the United States is a "Christian nation."

It states, "Our nation was founded on fundamental Judeo-Christian principles based on the Holy Bible. The party affirms freedom of religion and rejects efforts of courts and secular activists who seek to remove and deny such a rich heritage from our public lives."

The plank was adopted during the party's June 4 convention. Despite some criticism, party officials say they will not back down.

"Our platform is an acknowledgement that most of our nation's Founding Fathers had a deep faith in God," said Tina J. Benkiser, chair of the state party, told The Washington Times. "We believe that people of faith should be welcomed in the political process today as they were 200 years ago."
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Title Annotation:People & Events
Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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