Allen sticks with church that allows Muslims to pray
U.S. Senate candidate George Allen of Virginia is sticking with his Alexandria church despite rumblings within the congregation over the church’s decision to allow Muslims to pray there on Fridays while a nearby Mosque is being renovated.
A handful of people have left the Aldersgate United Methodist Church to protest use of the church by Muslims. But a church spokeswoman said the public response has been overwhelmingly positive and the move is in keeping with Christian values.
Allen, though, must tread carefully to avoid an appearance of racial insensitivity. In his 2006 Senate campaign, Allen referred to an Indian-American volunteer for his opponent Jim Webb as “macaca,” a perceived racial slur. Allen has repeatedly apologized for the remark.
In a statement, Allen dismissed the matter as a side issue.
“With so many families anxious about gas prices, losing their jobs, their homes, and fearful the rising national debt will rob our children of the opportunities we had growing up, it’s disappointing to Susan and me that our family’s church would become an issue in this campaign,” he said.
He and his wife have attended the Aldersgate church since moving to the Mount Vernon area almost 10 years ago. Their two youngest children were confirmed there, and many of the family’s friends worship there.
“We feel that the issue that has arisen in recent weeks within our church is a matter for the church family,” he said. “We understand that good people will have differing opinions on this, but as I stated when entering this Senate race I will endeavor to focus on the concerns that I hear from Virginians as I travel across the state listening to them and discussing the future.”
But political candidates’ religious affiliations, especially among Republicans, can prove significant during campaigns. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith has been perceived as an issue with the evangelical wing of the Republican Party. In the 2008 presidential campaign, President Obama had to distance himself from incendiary remarks made by his Chicago pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Chesapeake Bishop E.W. Jackson, one of several candidates seeking the GOP nomination along with Allen, criticized the church’s decision.
“While we have a biblical mandate to love them as human beings, no pastor or Christian should cooperate or assist Muslims in their worship practices,” he said.
Original post: Allen sticks with church that allows Muslims to pray