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Kennedy Townsend shares concerns about political right

November 12, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Kathleen Kennedy Townsend brought her concerns about churches and the political right to Jefferson County Sunday.

Townsend, who has written a book about the issue, spoke to about 60 people during a meeting of the Jefferson County Organization of Democratic Women Sunday afternoon at the Charles Town Library.

Townsend said today's churches are often allied with the political right, and are preoccupied with battles over private and personal issues while others in need suffer.

Townsend, the oldest child of Robert F. Kennedy and a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, outlines her concerns in her book "Failing America's Faithful: How Today's Churches are Mixing God with Politics and Losing Their Way."

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Townsend, who was defeated in the Maryland gubernatorial race by Republican Robert Ehrlich in 2002, was invited to speak to the local Democratic group after Virginia Graf, spokeswoman for the organization, said Townsend's book moved her.

Townsend said she remembers David Frost interviewing her father and President Ronald Reagan and asking each of them, "Why are we on Earth?"

After the first responsibility of reproducing ourselves, Reagan said one of the reasons humans are here is to pursue individual freedom, Townsend said.

Townsend said her father answered "to help somebody else."

Townsend said that while both were important, there is a dark side to individualism because taken too far, it can threaten the environment.

And with some churches aligning with the political right, too often people are looking at religion as "what God can do for you," Townsend said.

The Christian Coalition pushes for issues like tax cuts for the wealthy, but Townsend said she does not recall that being mentioned in the Bible.

"We have to change it and say it's not right," Townsend said.

The discussion touched on other issues, like concerns over the Bush administration and the media. During a question-and-answer session, Graf said the media sometimes ignores presidential candidates with whom she is impressed.

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