U.S. Rep. Todd Akin is catching flak from some Missouri religious leaders for saying last week that “at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God.”
Akin made the comments during a radio interview Friday with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. The two were discussing NBC’s decision to omit the phrase “under God” from a pre-taped clip of the Pledge of Allegiance aired during the network’s coverage of the U.S. Open.
From the interview:
Akin: This was something that was done systematically, it was done intentionally, and is tremendously corrosive in terms of all of the values and everything that’s made America unique and such a special nation.
Perkins: Why would NBC do this?
Akin: Well, I think NBC has a long record of being very liberal and at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God. And so they’ve had a long history of not being at all favorable toward many of things that have been such a blessing to our country.
Akin went on to say that the move was part of "a systematic effort to try to separate our faith and God, which is a source in our belief in individual liberties, from our country. And when you do that you tear the heart out of our country."
The comments immediately made their way around the Internet after being picked up by a handful of national liberal websites. Faith Aloud, a St. Louis-based religious group that advocates for abortion rights, began an online petition drive calling on Akin to apologize.
The Rev. Krista Taves of Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel in Ellisville said Akin’s comment “shows how very little he knows about liberals, and how very little he knows about God.”
“I’m a liberal because I love God and all God’s creation,” Taves said. “ I value equality, fairness and compassionate justice because my faith informs my politics.”
Rabbi Jim Bennett of Congregation Shaare Emeth in St. Louis said he was “deeply disturbed” by Akin’s statement, which he characterized as a “grotesque politicized attack.”
Akin Communications Director Steve Taylor said the point Akin was trying to make was that there is a basic difference between the tenets of liberalism and conservatism. Conservatives believe rights are granted by God and it is the responsibility of government to aid in protecting them, Taylor said.
“Liberals believe rights are granted by government,” he said. “Congressman Akin believes those two concepts define the basic debate between the two ideologies.”
Akin’s comments were off the cuff, Taylor said, and with more time to articulate his point he could have “provided a more artful answer.” But he wasn’t talking about anyone’s individual relationship with God, Taylor said, only the “defining principles of two political ideologies.”