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By David Briggs
Religion News Service
CLEVELAND (RNS) A coalition of Ohio religious leaders is asking for the battleground swing state to be a “Political Sleaze-Free Zone” for the 2008 election.
We Believe Ohio kicked off the campaign at rallies in Columbus and Cleveland on Nov. 8, asking candidates and political parties to promote what they stand for and refrain from attack ads.
Organizers said they have more than 900 names on petitions urging politicians to bring dignity and civility to the political process. Gov. Ted Strickland supports the effort, according to the interfaith group.
Surrounded by local clergy on the steps of First United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Rabbi Richard Block of the Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood said people want truth, not distortions of opponents’ positions.
In a statement, the Columbus-based group said the 2004 and 2006 elections brought “gutter politics” to Ohio. In their petition drive, the clergy ask participants in the upcoming election to reject “the politics of polarization,” and promote the common good by addressing issues such as poverty, jobs, education and health care.
In particular, the group asks candidates and parties to denounce attacks by outside groups, “and do everything possible to bring them to a halt.”
Mudslinging and attack ads may appear to have become an acceptable way of doing politics, said Imam Abbas Ahmad, president of the Northeast Ohio Council of Mosques.
However, Ahmad said, “We as people of faith are here to say it does not have to be that way.”
Copyright 2007 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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