Kerry's Choice for Religious Outreach Director 'Confounding,' Group Says

Melanie Hunter | Deputy Managing Editor | Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Kerry's Choice for Religious Outreach Director 'Confounding,' Group Says

( - Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign has hired a new director of religion outreach, who is being described by a Catholic group as "a curious choice."

Mara Vanderslice, who formerly worked as religion outreach director for Democrat Howard Dean, was raised without any faith and didn't become an evangelical Christian until she attended Earlham College, a Quaker school known for its adherence to pacifism, the Catholic League said on Monday.

According to Catholic League President William Donohue, when Vanderslice was in college she was active in the Earlham Socialist Alliance, a group that supports convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and openly embraces Marxism-Leninism.

Upon college graduation, Donohue said, Vanderslice spoke at rallies organized by ACT-UP, an anti-Catholic group that disrupted Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1989 and spit the Eucharist on the floor.

In 2000, according to Donohue, Vanderslice practiced civil disobedience by taking part in a protest of the World Trade Organization in Seattle, and in 2002, she was among those who tried to shut down the nation's capital in a protest against the IMF and the World Bank.

"At first John Kerry was considered too moderate for Mara, which is why she became Howard Dean's Religion Outreach Director," Donohue said. "She admits that she was a freak in the Dean campaign: her colleagues dubbed her the 'church lady,' informing her that Dean was liked precisely because he didn't talk about religion."

"'How in the world did you get hired?' is how one staffer put it," Donohue said.

"Unfazed Mara contends we have a 'collective commitment to protect the integrity of God's creation,' specifically citing the needs of the 'least of these.' Yet she supports John Kerry, a man who has never learned of an abortion he couldn't justify, Donohue said.

"All the polls show Kerry getting whipped badly by Bush among practicing Catholics, Protestants and Jews. Moreover, the latest edition of Time magazine reports that only 7 percent of likely voters think Kerry is a man of strong religious faith," Donohue said.

"Given all this, his choice of Mara Vanderslice as his religious point woman is confounding. Her resume is that of a person looking for a job working for Fidel Castro, not John Kerry.

"Just wait until Catholics and Protestants learn who this lady really is," he added.

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