Ex-senator wants to save GOP from itself

Sept. 29, 2006 at 1:21 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Sen. John Danforth of Missouri says he hopes to build a backlash against the religious right wing of the Republican Party.

Danforth, an Episcopal priest, is the author of "Faith and Politics: How the Moral Values Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together." He discussed the book and his political ideas with reporters at a Washington breakfast, the Kansas City Star reported.

"I'd like to see our party debate whether or not we're a religious party," Danforth said. "Do we attempt to energize a base, or do we try to reconstitute a center in American politics?"

Danforth believes that religion and politics do not mix well. He said that arguing that one side of a political debate has God on its side is bad for religion.

Energy wasted debating issues like gay marriage also diverts attention from important matters like the budget that are the proper province of government, he said.

Danforth acknowledged that he has given himself a tough assignment. Asked to name young moderate Republicans who could help change the party, he mentioned Sen. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, now 76, and 67-year-old Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri.

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