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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Fighting Over the Scraps

Republicans Duel for 1st District Nod

I have to imagine that, if he's even paying attention, this sort of thing must make Rep. John Larson very happy.
The Republican primary fight for the right to challenge U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District, in November has turned on religion with challenger Miriam Masullo attacking the religious denomination of the GOP's endorsed candidate, Scott MacLean.

In a recent letter to the district's Republican leaders, Masullo accused the leadership of the United Church of Christ of supporting terrorists and suicide bombings. And because MacLean is a retired minister in the church, Republicans should reject him in the Aug. 8 primary, Masullo said.

Christopher Healy, a Republican leader who put MacLean's name in nomination at the party's May convention, said Masullo's accusations amounted to "delusional ramblings."

"All that stuff is just looney tunes. It's not even worth commenting on," Healy said. (Uhlinger)

Masullo's comments, which are based on the UCC's halfhearted economic divestment from Israel, are misleading and needlessly inflammatory at best, and no one except Masullo's supporters seems to be taking them seriously.

The most interesting aspect of this race, apart from the spat over the UCC, is the fact that Masullo lives in New Canaan. For those of you keeping track, that's in the 4th Congressional District, not the 1st. One can't get much farther away from the 1st District and still remain in Connecticut. In a 2002 Courant article, Masullo claimed that small matters, such as not living in the district, were just a distraction from the real issues:
...Masullo, who grew up in Harlem after fleeing Cuba at age 13, says she could better represent the 1st District because shebetter represents its demographics. The state has seen a surge in Hispanic population in the last 10 years, much of it centered in Hartford and its immediate suburbs. Masullo believes that growing population needs to be reflected in its congressional representation. (Oshrat)
If she wins, Masullo has pledged to become a part of the demographics she wants to represent by actually moving to the district.

Masullo's platform has some decent ideas concerning education and the internet, most notably this one:
The backbone of our American education system was built upon two free, government supported institutions: the public school and the public library. The backbone of our modern education system must become the digital library, operating at local, regional and national levels, as one universal system.

Cool. In fact, Masullo has long spoken out about providing better access to digital resources for everyone. It was one of the centerpieces of her 2002 campaign, during which she accused Larson of perpetuating the "digital divide" between those who could afford internet access, and those who could not. The issue of the UCC is only serving to muddle what could be a very positive message. Although you'd think that someone who is so interested in computer technology would have a better website.

MacLean seems to be hoping that she'll just go away, although past experience suggests that she won't. In 2002, she lost the first district primary to Phil Steele, but continued to campaign as a write-in candidate. She also originally decided to stay out of the primary this year, but re-entered because of MacLean's UCC affiliation. Admittedly, some of MacLean's positions are somewhat to the left of most mainstream Republicans. He is pro-choice, pro-gun control and supports efforts to combat global warming. However, he does support the War on Terror and wants troops to stay in Iraq. From his website:
These Islamic-Fascist terrorists are bad, bad guys and they won’t just go away because we walk away from Iraq. If they are willing to blow themselves up for their cause, they will not quit just because we do. They are highly motivated and we must continue to confront them and defeat them. This is a long term conflict that will not go away soon.

Sounds like a liberal wimp to me. MacLean also has one position which I find fascinating: encouraging democracy by shrinking Congressional districts. Unfortunately, he wants to cut the size of districts down a little too much (his plan calls for an 8,000-member House of Representatives), but the idea itself is worth considering. I'm sure MacLean would rather see smaller districts--that way, he'd have a better shot at a seat.

So the race is on. Who is the "real" Republican? Who is best qualified to carry the GOP standard into November?

Unfortunately for both candidates, it really doesn't matter. The first district has not been won by a Republican since Eisenhower's day, a cultural eon ago, and has been represented by such prominent Democrats as Abraham Ribicoff, Thomas Dodd and Barbara Kennelly. Rep. John Larson is not going to lose. He doesn't even have to campaign to retain his seat, which is one of the safest in the country. Jodi Rell could run against Larson and lose by 25%.

In the meantime, MacLean and Masullo will campaign to win the primary on August 8th. At least both of them have a chance at winning something.

Sources

Oshrat, Carmiel. "1st District Republicans Press on to Primary." Hartford Courant 8 September, 2002.

Uhlinger, Dan. "1st District Challenger Makes Religion An Issue." Hartford Courant 16 July, 2006.

30 Comments:

Blogger Quarterly Prophet said...

Wow, attacking someone for beng a member of UCC is one of the dumber angles I've seen.

7/16/2006 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Genghis Conn said...

And yet it's probably drawn far more attention to this race than it would have otherwise gotten.

7/16/2006 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger MikeCT said...

Admittedly, some of MacLean's positions are somewhat to the left of most mainstream Republicans. He is pro-choice, pro-gun control and supports efforts to combat global warming.

Not necessarily.

A majority of Connecticut Republicans (53%) think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. And 69% said they supported a law "requiring that all Connecticut hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, provide emergency contraception to rape victims."

Nationally, 45% of Republicans believe that global warming is due to human emissions. 81% of Republicans think President bush should act to limit greenhouse gases.

In Connecticut two-thirds of Republicans (66.7%) say that gun control laws are "not tough enough," and only 10.8% think they are "too strict."

It appears that the national Republican leadership is out of step with their own base, at least in Connecticut, and perhaps across the country.

In any case, Masullo is a disgraceful candidate who should be shunned.

7/16/2006 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Chris Healy, a Republican leader," my stars! It's hard to figure out who's got dibs on the 'worthless' title, between Foley and Healy. I've read Healy's name in the paper at least once a week for the past few months, and never once has it been related to what his actual job is--running Simmons' campaign. Maybe if he spent more time on the campaigns that pay his salary he'd be better regarded.

7/16/2006 01:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the silly season has truly began if someone would trash one of the few CT R's who knows how to win on behalf of some unqualified 1st district candidate

7/16/2006 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

MacLean's no Republican and is the primary (no pun intended) reason I bothered to even start a blog.

Scott MacLean is in fact anti-gun and no Republican

7/16/2006 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Quarterly Prophet said... "
Wow, attacking someone for beng a member of UCC is one of the dumber angles I've seen.
"

The UCC isn't what you think.



The Simon Wiesenthal Center considers their actions anti-semitic; further they've been sending aid to Hamas.

The next time a Hamas suicide bomber kills himself and a slew of Israeli school children it will be a bomb bought with UCC money.
That's a fact.

7/16/2006 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

MikeCT said... "
In any case, Masullo is a disgraceful candidate who should be shunned.


Only by those that endorse suicide bombers.

Don't let the name fool you; the UCC is the political arm of an honorable denomination. When Blake founded the UCC in the late 1950's what it has become was not the plan.

It's been hijacked; and most of their own members haven't any idea what's being done behind their backs.

From: ucctruths.com
"Actually, it was UCCtruths.com which first raised the issue of MacLean's invitation to use of the church to hold campaign meetings. "



Do you think it's correct for a church (or it's political arm in the case of the UCC) to donate to political campaigns?

How does $50,000 to Sarah Brady as a speaking honorarium hit you?
How many winter coats would that buy?
How many people could be taught to read for that kind of money?

There's a reason the largest Congregationalist Church in CT voted to remove itself from the UCC last year as did all their member churches in Puerto Rico this year.

7/16/2006 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

"In Connecticut two-thirds of Republicans (66.7%) say that gun control laws are "not tough enough," and only 10.8% think they are "too strict."


How many want hand guns banned outright?

"...I am in favor of enacting handgun control legislation.."
Scott MacLean Sun, 21 Aug 2005

7/16/2006 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger MikeCT said...

ACR,

Keep digging yourself deeper. Your conspiracy theories have already been a great help to MacLean and further paint the GOP into a corner as a party of intolerance and religious bigotry. Cheers!

7/16/2006 04:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don;t understand why anyone would go to the mattresses for either one of these folks. A stationary deer glued to the pavement on the Merritt stands a better chance than either one

7/16/2006 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Weicker Liker said...

It's displicable that Masullo's handlers are making this about religeon.

7/16/2006 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Weicker Liker said... "t's displicable that Masullo's handlers are making this about religeon.(sic)"

This has nothing to do with religion and you know it.

Care to explain how it is that MacLean's address at the SoS's office is that of the Hartland Congregational Church?

You are aware that false registration is a crime are you not?

7/16/2006 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Weicker Liker said...

I was told by a source that Masullo had 200,000 to spend on this election

How come she is not a registered candidate?

Nothing within FEC files for this cycle?

Has she filed any ethics forms with the House Committee on Official Conduct?

I know MacLean has filed his paperwork.

Maybe I'll visit the House Resource Center in DC tomorrow and check for myself?

Where is Masullo' money coming from?

7/16/2006 11:18:00 PM  
Blogger Weicker Liker said...

Maybe MacLean used the wrong address on his endorsement form by mistake?

What matters is his address as an elector.

7/16/2006 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Weicker Liker said... "
What matters is his address as an elector."


Good point; that one doesn't even exist.

7/17/2006 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Scott MacLean's address according to his voter last September registration:

9 Granville Road Hartland, CT

There is no such address.

7/17/2006 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Genghis Conn said...

To be fair, ACR, that search engine is not finding several of the homes on that street. It's pretty obvious that a few are being missed just by looking at it, but I tried 1-10 Granville Road, and nothing came up for them either.

Have you been there to verify that it doesn't exist?

7/17/2006 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is completely and unequivocally ignorant to suggest that the UCC is, in any way, supportive of terrorism or anti-semitism. In fact, the UCC is one of the most progressive denominations in the country, endorsing gay marriage at a time when most other churches are trying to throw homosexuals out of the clergy.

Perhaps you have seen the tv commercials with messages such as "God doesn't reject people." It's part of a larger campaign that is completely in line with the UCC mission. The churches that chose to leave the UCC did so because of the UCC's stance on gay marriage.

Please do not insult Republicans or the many members of the UCC by conflating the UCC with militant religious zealots. As for attacking a political candidate for his religious affiliation, I believe that’s what most people would label the most base form of discrimination.

7/17/2006 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Weicker Liker said...

Maybe Authentic should file an elections complaint!!

We will see how big and bad be really is.

What about Masullo's finances? Notice he doesn't even address that.

7/17/2006 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Weicker Liker said...

Authentic Connecticut Republican Should Read Scott MacLean's Blog.

Maybe he and Miriam Masullo will learn something....

MacLean Blog Entry From 7/16

One of the major themes of this campaign is an articulation of the Truth, no matter how inconvenient that may be to my hopes of winning. By that I mean that I will not spin issues so they play better to one group or another. I believe what I believe for the reasons I stated on this website and I’ll stand on that, Period.

But then there is the anti-Truth, the outright lie, and most average Americans are sick and tired of this terrible behavior.

The public desperately wants to trust a candidate for public office who takes the high road, someone who refuses to engage in “Dirty Politics,” someone who will play fair and refrain from taking the political cheap shot. In a political campaign based on the positive values inherent in the Truth, “winning at any costs” is unacceptable behavior. A dishonorable win threatens our whole system of democracy and I won’t go there.

Let me give you two examples of how I am a completely new kind of candidate:

I didn’t attend the Republican Town Committee meeting in West Hartford the night my opponent in the upcoming primary distributed a 6 page rant that tried to smear me by smearing my Church, the United Church of Christ.

My opponent said that the UCC, more commonly known throughout New England as the Congregational Church, supported “suicide bombers” and “harbored implicit pro-terrorism sentiments.”

Yikes!! Not only are these statements outright lies, but it’s hard to think of a lie that might be bigger than those.

This is exactly what the American public hates. There is nothing in this paper about how she is the better candidate, how she has a better vision for America, about how her positions on the issues are better than mine, etc. It’s all about tearing me down. America deserves better than that.

I’ve got pretty thick skin so these preposterous statements didn’t hurt. But on the positive side, this whole six page rant can now serve a new and better purpose.

It’s now become the poster child for Dirty Politics, the smoking gun, the bad example that motivates voters to seek out and find honorable candidates who won’t engage in this kind of despicable behavior. These outrageous statements say more about my opponent’s character than they say about mine.

The second example concerns me and the decision I made not to move ahead and publicize a story which would place my opponent in a terrible light. In this case, the story was about John Larson, my other opponent.

I received an e-mail from a supporter detailing the Larson situation and the first thing I did was some fact checking.

Had my primary opponent done this, she would have discovered that the charges she made against the UCC were false and she might have saved herself a lot of the embarrassment.

While I didn’t complete my fact checking project, the ones I did check were confirmed to be true and I suspect that the other, unchecked ones are true as well. But now I had to make a decision, to run with it or not.

I decided not to go public with this situation because, while the facts were true, the extenuating circumstances made publicizing it feel like Dirty Politics. The situation was not new, in fact, it was quite old.

I will not reveal the date because that would be giving too much information. And there are innocent people involved, people who have nothing to do with politics, people who might be injured if I went ahead and publicized this.

So because I hold myself to a higher standard, this situation remains unpublicized. Furthermore, because this situation is not new and because the facts are known by more than a few people, if it ever becomes public knowledge, I will say then what I say now:

“It is wrong to make this matter public, it is dirty politics and I don’t support it.”

Finally, to show that I am not leaking this to the press as anonymous source, so I can have it both ways, I now give permission to the press to name me as their anonymous source if that is, in fact, the case.

It’s harder for the good guys to be the good guys; the bar is set higher for us. The bad guys have it easy. Lying and cheating and behaving badly, that’s what they do; that’s why they are the bad guys.

We need leaders with Integrity, someone with an internal compass, something that guides their decision making even when they know they won’t get caught. I’m that kind of person and it’s a major reason why I’m asking that you trust me with your vote on August 8th in the Republican Primary as well as in November’s general election.

In my next blog entry, I’ll tell you a story about how I acted with Integrity after an incident in my personal life which happened during the second week of July. Stay tuned.

7/17/2006 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Genghis Conn said... "
Have you been there to verify that it doesn't exist?
"

Not only does it not exist, but when asked about it at the town hall I got "Oh Scotty...he just doesn't know ....."

Hartland's not all that big; odd that the fellow I asked less than 100 yards from where MacLean allegedly resides had never heard of him.

7/17/2006 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Weicker Liker said...

And I would venture to say that the same guy knows LESS about Miriam Masullo

7/17/2006 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Weicker Liker said... "
Read Scott MacLean's Blog."


Oh but I have.

There was no W. Hartford TC meeting on the night he states; further I, (not Miriam) left behind nothing but his correspondence with a member of state central, which you can read here:
Scott MacLean is in fact anti-gun and no Republican

Miriam sent out a letter several days if not a couple of weeks after she spoke to the W. Hartford TC in June



For a guy who writes; "..and the first thing I did was some fact checking...."

He sure gets a lot of them wrong.

Elsewhere he states:"..UCC churches grace the centers of most New England towns because our Pilgrim and Puritan ancestors were the original English settlers in Connecticut and our First Amendment rights"


For starters those are Congregational Churches not UCC.

Next the whole point was to get away from the Puritans which in fact was the motivating force behind my ancestors joining with Hooker and settling what is now Connecticut.

The notion that there is some Puritan / Mayflower connection is utter nonsense.

Scott MacLean should not play his WASPier than thou game with me.
He defends bigotry now too?
I'm simply amazed.

The man hasn't a clue what the Congregational Church was founded on and certainly not by who.

Further; as the founder of the UCC was Blake, my mother's childhood minster and next door neighbor - I find it unlikely he has any clue as to why so many people are now leaving either their church (as I did) or why the larger member churches are leaving the UCC (as did CT's largest last year, as did all of them in Puerto Rico last month, etc. It's quite simple, the current group has taken a perfectly good thing down a very bad road and certainly not one ever imagined by Blake.

Here's what other members of the UCC have to say about Scott MacLean:
MacLean is foolishly wasting time defending UCC leaders - our denomination's leaders do not have a clean record on issues that relate to the Middle-East, Israel and domestic terrorism. Whether the issue is the UCC leadership's support of divestment from Israel, support for the removal of Israel's protective wall, criticism of the U.S. position on Iran's nuclear development (which turned out to be real), UCC President John Thomas's claim that the Axis of Evil “runs the length and breadth of Pennsylvania Avenue" or UCC leaders defense of Puerto Rican terrorists (FALN) in testimony to Congress (with literally no regard or communication with bombing victims..


Were the UCC's stance regarding Israel not considered anti-semitic then why did the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church of the United States) reverse their almost indenticle resolution last month?

7/17/2006 04:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ACR:

You are irresponsibly misrepresenting the UCC. In fact, most Congregational Churches ARE members of the UCC—Mr. MacLean is absolutely correct on that point. And as I am sure you aware, Congregational Churches make choices regarding their individual congregation by church member vote--therefore, each church decides whether or not to join an organization like the UCC. That so many Congregational Churches have joined the UCC is a testament to their open and affirming, inclusive mission.

As a Republican and a member of a church that is both Congregational AND part of the UCC, I find your comments embarrassing and unacceptable. Maybe you disagree with the moderate social policies of the UCC and Mr. McLean--that is your prerogative--but to defame him and a respected religious organization is unfair. These kinds of comments are why Republicans are routinely mocked, or worse, ignored, in the political discourse.

7/17/2006 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

"As a Republican and a member of a church that is both Congregational AND part of the UCC, I find your comments embarrassing and unacceptable."

As a Republican and a lineal descendant of both the founders of the denomination and the state of CT, I find the UCC both embarrassing and unacceptable.

Further I doubt you ever even met Blake.


Misrepresentation?

Try again - not one bit.

The UCC is in fact funding the Hamas govt.; the SW Center has in fact begged the UCC to follow the PCUSA's lead.

The fact that UCC member churches are losing members at the fastest pace of all protestant denominations and that over 100 churches have voted to disassociate from the UCC says it all.

You have a right to your own opinion, not your own facts.


I didn't enjoy leaving my own church - but it left me.

7/18/2006 05:52:00 AM  
Blogger Weicker Liker said...

Scott MacLean told WTIC's Colin McEnroe that he will debate Miriam Masullo before the August 8th Primary.

Has Masullo agreed to do so?

7/18/2006 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for Miriam for exposing the radical leftist policies of the United Church of Christ. They are so liberal and leftist that I believe they may support Hamas in some way, shape or form. Boo to Chris (slime-dog) Healy for calling her "dillusional".

8/06/2006 09:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Losing Candidate Offers One Shining Moment
Laurence Cohen
August 25 2006
Although she will be little more than a blip in the political history of 2006, Miriam Masullo deserves
a tip of the hat for a brief moment of campaign innovation.
There she was, sitting in Fairfield County, sort of running long distance in a Republican primary for
the right to be slaughtered in November by U.S. Rep John Larson. He's a Democrat from East
Hartford who will win the 1st District election even if the GOP locks him in a closet with a naked
Hollywood starlet and releases photos to the supermarket tabloids.
It's a done deal for the incumbent Larson, but nevertheless, there was a Republican primary
between Masullo and former United Church of Christ minister Scott MacLean. A UCC minister
running as a Republican congressional candidate is worth at least a moment of reflection; the
denomination works very hard at the national level (and in Connecticut) to be an adjunct
theological arm of the left wing of the Democratic Party - all atwitter about the earned income tax
credit and air pollution and "living wage" and gay rights and being very nice to our Arab brothers
and sisters.
And that is where Miriam decided to pounce, lifting her candidacy for a moment or two from
obscure to butt-kicking, good times.
Hey, Mr. United Church of Christ Retired Minister, she said, do you support your terrorist-loving
denomination's terrorist-loving "pastoral letter" demanding that Israel tear down its security wall,
whether or not Arab terrorists stop killing Israelis?
The UCC, not alone among mainstream Protestant denominations in the creation of dumb foreign
policy positions to accompany its partisan domestic policy positions, probably doesn't need Scott
MacLean to be its front man on Middle East affairs.
But Masullo was sort of creative in asking the mainline Protestants whether or not they take their
denominational policy statements from church leaders seriously, or whether the opining of the state
and national staff amounted to just more partisan blather from another set of interested parties.
Poor MacLean, who was clearly not expecting any questions about UCC foreign policy statements,
mumbled that some UCC churches are "liberal" and some are "conservative" - with the
understanding that no one is obligated to pay much attention to what the denominational staff
cooks up at the home office.
The whole episode wasn't really very important, but it was a rare moment for a sort of liberal,
mainstream Protestant political candidate to be faced with explaining away formal or informal
church pronouncements from a denomination that doesn't really do the "creed" thing. And yet, if
the denominational political policy statements don't obligate the faithful, or necessarily represent
the views of the faithful, why are they done at all?
The Northeastern, liberal, Democratic, Catholic politicians must have gotten a good chuckle out of
courant.com: Losing Candidate Offers One Shining Moment Page 1 of 2
http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/op_ed/hc-cohen0825.artaug25,0,6145756,print.column 9/8/2006
MacLean's tap dance; the Catholics know how the game is played. We are "personally opposed to
abortion," which is not to say that you aren't free to kill your unborn baby, because we, of course,
believe in a woman's right to choose.
To be fair to Masullo, she did her little bit of Congregational bashing in the context of MacLean
being too liberal about almost everything to be a real Republican - with his UCC connection just
one count in the indictment.
Many Americans consider that personal questions about religion in a political campaign are
distasteful, but one could argue that to ignore religious affiliation is, in a way, insulting to religion; a
suggestion that it is irrelevant.
As prominent theologian Martin Marty put in an 1976 essay on politics and religion in U.S. Catholic
magazine: "To say that religion is simply private may be a good principle for enemies of religion,
who want to show how beside the point it is to the rest of life."
Miriam Masullo probably didn't win herself many friends, suggesting that the Congregationalists in
the UCC are part of a big, goofy, left-wing cabal - although the denomination has lost some
congregations in recent years that sort of said the same thing.
There aren't too many candidates in the Northeast who would be comfortable explaining their
affection for, or disagreement with, their own church's dabbling in political issues. Masullo? She's
back in New Canaan, licking her wounds. God help her. Oops.
Laurence D. Cohen is a public policy consultant who served as special assistant to former Gov.
John G. Rowland. His column appears every Friday. He can be reached at
cohencolumn@aol.com.
Copyright 2006, Hartford Courant

9/23/2006 10:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Losing Candidate Offers One Shining Moment
Laurence Cohen
August 25 2006
Although she will be little more than a blip in the political history of 2006, Miriam Masullo deserves
a tip of the hat for a brief moment of campaign innovation.
There she was, sitting in Fairfield County, sort of running long distance in a Republican primary for
the right to be slaughtered in November by U.S. Rep John Larson. He's a Democrat from East
Hartford who will win the 1st District election even if the GOP locks him in a closet with a naked
Hollywood starlet and releases photos to the supermarket tabloids.
It's a done deal for the incumbent Larson, but nevertheless, there was a Republican primary
between Masullo and former United Church of Christ minister Scott MacLean. A UCC minister
running as a Republican congressional candidate is worth at least a moment of reflection; the
denomination works very hard at the national level (and in Connecticut) to be an adjunct
theological arm of the left wing of the Democratic Party - all atwitter about the earned income tax
credit and air pollution and "living wage" and gay rights and being very nice to our Arab brothers
and sisters.
And that is where Miriam decided to pounce, lifting her candidacy for a moment or two from
obscure to butt-kicking, good times.
Hey, Mr. United Church of Christ Retired Minister, she said, do you support your terrorist-loving
denomination's terrorist-loving "pastoral letter" demanding that Israel tear down its security wall,
whether or not Arab terrorists stop killing Israelis?
The UCC, not alone among mainstream Protestant denominations in the creation of dumb foreign
policy positions to accompany its partisan domestic policy positions, probably doesn't need Scott
MacLean to be its front man on Middle East affairs.
But Masullo was sort of creative in asking the mainline Protestants whether or not they take their
denominational policy statements from church leaders seriously, or whether the opining of the state
and national staff amounted to just more partisan blather from another set of interested parties.
Poor MacLean, who was clearly not expecting any questions about UCC foreign policy statements,
mumbled that some UCC churches are "liberal" and some are "conservative" - with the
understanding that no one is obligated to pay much attention to what the denominational staff
cooks up at the home office.
The whole episode wasn't really very important, but it was a rare moment for a sort of liberal,
mainstream Protestant political candidate to be faced with explaining away formal or informal
church pronouncements from a denomination that doesn't really do the "creed" thing. And yet, if
the denominational political policy statements don't obligate the faithful, or necessarily represent
the views of the faithful, why are they done at all?
The Northeastern, liberal, Democratic, Catholic politicians must have gotten a good chuckle out of
MacLean's tap dance; the Catholics know how the game is played. We are "personally opposed to
abortion," which is not to say that you aren't free to kill your unborn baby, because we, of course,
believe in a woman's right to choose.
To be fair to Masullo, she did her little bit of Congregational bashing in the context of MacLean
being too liberal about almost everything to be a real Republican - with his UCC connection just
one count in the indictment.
Many Americans consider that personal questions about religion in a political campaign are
distasteful, but one could argue that to ignore religious affiliation is, in a way, insulting to religion; a
suggestion that it is irrelevant.
As prominent theologian Martin Marty put in an 1976 essay on politics and religion in U.S. Catholic
magazine: "To say that religion is simply private may be a good principle for enemies of religion,
who want to show how beside the point it is to the rest of life."
Miriam Masullo probably didn't win herself many friends, suggesting that the Congregationalists in
the UCC are part of a big, goofy, left-wing cabal - although the denomination has lost some
congregations in recent years that sort of said the same thing.
There aren't too many candidates in the Northeast who would be comfortable explaining their
affection for, or disagreement with, their own church's dabbling in political issues. Masullo? She's
back in New Canaan, licking her wounds. God help her. Oops.
Laurence D. Cohen is a public policy consultant who served as special assistant to former Gov.
John G. Rowland. His column appears every Friday. He can be reached at
cohencolumn@aol.com.
Copyright 2006, Hartford Courant

9/23/2006 10:23:00 PM  

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