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Religious group raises concerns on Ashcroft

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A multi-denominational religious organization has raised questions on whether former Sen. John Ashcroft regarding religious liberty and civil rights -- specifically the rights of religious minorities and his willingness to use the Department of Justice to promote or advance his personal religious beliefs.

The Interfaith Alliance held a news conference Monday in Washington where representatives from the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Christian communities said they neither opposed nor supported the President-elect George W. Bush's selection of the former Missouri senator as attorney general.

However, they said they would continue lobbying senators to vigorously question Ashcroft about his position on issues such as hate crimes, the use of secret evidence in immigration proceedings and the separation of Church and State.

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance said, "I have grave concerns about Senator Ashcroft's ability to serve as Attorney General of the United States, a position in which he would be charged with upholding and fully enforcing the constitutional rights and liberties to faith groups that he clearly judges to be wrong and in need of correction."

Gaddy said a decision to oppose or support Ashcroft as the choice for attorney general would be made after questioning in the Senate confirmation hearings to be held this week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will convene hearings on Ashcroft's nomination Tuesday afternoon. Three days of hearings are scheduled.

The Interfaith Alliance, formed in 1994, is a nonpartisan clergy-led grassroots organization "dedicated to promoting the positive and healing role of religion in the life of the nation."



Monday, January 15, 2001


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