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New DNC religion adviser resigns, opposed ‘under God’ in pledge


The Democratic Party’s new religion adviser has resigned after less than two weeks at the post.

Brenda Bartella Peterson, the Democrats’ senior adviser for religious outreach, announced Aug. 4 she was leaving the job because it was “no longer possible for me to do my job effectively,” Religion News Service reported.

Peterson resigned after the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights criticized her hiring in news releases on three consecutive days. In one of its releases, the Catholic League reported Peterson signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief in support of an atheist’s attempt to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Michael Newdow of California did not have legal standing to represent his daughter in the case.


Prior controversy

Less than two months before Peterson’s resignation, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s campaign cut off media access to its religious adviser, Mara Vanderslice. The action came after the Catholic League reported Vanderslice spoke at rallies by militant homosexual organization ACT-UP.

“Why are Kerry and the [Democratic National Committee] imploding on religion?” Catholic League President William Donohue asked after Peterson’s resignation. “Because too many of the elites running the show are devout secularists who put a premium on freedom from religion.

“Kerry’s campaign now has two strikes in its religious outreach efforts,” Donohue said.

DNC National Chairman Terry McAuliffe named Peterson to the position July 23, just prior to the Democratic National Convention. Her hiring reflected the DNC’s “commitment to reaching all peoples of faith ... in this election year,” McAuliffe said at the time.

Peterson, an ordained Disciples of Christ minister, previously served as executive director of the Clergy Network for National Leadership Change. The network, which was founded late last year, is an interfaith group attempting to help choose a new president and Congress, according to its Internet site.