Fla. Senate Race Rekindles Debate on Religion, Politics

October 16, 2006

Author: William E. Gibson

Source: The Baltimore Sun


U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris brought a combustible mix of religion and politics to South Florida last week, reaching out to Jewish and Christian groups while preaching the cause of civic action imbued with Judeo-Christian values.

To Jewish leaders and voters in Palm Beach County, Harris emphasized her support for Israel and her belief that Jews are "the chosen people." At a gathering in Fort Lauderdale of the Christian Family Coalition, a statewide faith-based group, she focused on her religious calling and how she overcame a loathing of politics to advance a conservative agenda.

"I had always thought 'poli' means 'many,' and 'tics' means 'blood sucking insects,'" she said. "So I barely understood why the separation of church and state is so bad.

"My challenge to the churches is true engagement, or to any people of faith, because we are called."

The Florida Senate race, which has drawn national attention mostly because of Harris' prominent role in the 2000 presidential election, has renewed a deep-rooted debate about the relevance of religion and morality in politics, an issue clouded by the sex scandal surrounding former Florida Rep. Mark Foley.