Easter Press Release Occasion to Invoke ‘War on Christians’

In a brief press release, Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean commemorated Easter by saying, “During this time Christians are called to remember who they are as people of faith, and that even the greatest of evils will not have the last word.” He also said that “peace, redemption and renewal” is a “theme which brings hope to people of all faiths.” The latter sentiment is driving some commentators to read all kinds of meaning into the press release – Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals claims that the lack of specific use of the name of Jesus is “a sad reflection of a ‘lowest common denominator’ religious outreach of the Democratic party” which “will not pass the smell test of any evangelical.”

More partisan activists on the Religious Right, however, go as far as accusing Dean of heresy-by-press-release by “redefining” Easter. He’s “taking Easter and making it into a nondescript, universal, nonexclusive religious celebration for all religions,” warns Don Wildmon of the American Family Association. According to Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council, Dean’s press release proves that “the Democratic leadership is in fact secularist by philosophy and worldview” – and it’s part of a larger conspiracy against faith:

“And we see it here in Washington, where I’m located,” Schenck adds, “that there is a growing hostility towards religious faith in the public arena, and this is more indication of that.” Dean has attempted to redefine the meaning of Easter, the Christian spokesman contends, by “dumbing it down to a universal, New Age spirituality.”

In addition to ascribing devious motives to a one-paragraph press release, Schenck also offers his discernment on Dean’s own belief:

However, since Howard Dean is not a theologian or a student of the Bible, Schenck says the politician is not in a position to redefine the meaning of Easter. In fact, after talking with Dean personally and observing him in many public settings, the National Clergy Council spokesman says he has seen nothing that would indicate the DNC chairman has any “overriding religious sensibilities.”