Bush Campaign Dodges Religious Liberty Survey

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A coalition of religious leaders and religious liberty advocates expressed its "disappointment" Monday after the campaign of Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush refused to respond to the group's candidate questionnaire on international religious freedom.

The survey, developed by the non-partisan Institute on Religion and Public Policy and endorsed by 33 other Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, sought the positions of Bush and Vice President Al Gore on issues involving international religious liberties. Only the Gore campaign responded to the eight-question survey.

"I'm disappointed the Bush-Cheney campaign did not respond," said Institute President Joseph Grieboski. "To me, it's a sign that the issues of religious liberties are not important to the campaign."

Questions in the survey ranged from human rights abuses in Sudan and the appointment of a new Ambassador-at-large for the Commission on International Religious Freedoms to the importance of religious liberties in trade negotiations with China.

"This is a basic issue," said Grieboski. "It's an important issue in foreign policy matters."

In responding to the survey, the Gore campaign did not directly address each of the eight specific questions, but did note Gore's support for a UN Human Rights Commission condemnation of China's human rights record, as well as placing pressure on Malaysia and the Afghan Taliban over human rights abuses.

On the issue of naming an Ambassador-at-large for the Commission on International Religious Freedoms, the vice president said he'd name a person who would be "a forceful advocate for policies," to increase and improve religious liberties abroad.

Absent from the Gore campaign response was any mention of Sudan, which has been the focus of increased scrutiny for human rights violations, including genocide, widespread slavery and religious persecution.