"These statements were pretty outrageous. Religion is not an issue in the current congressional race," said Betsy Kellman, regional director of the ADL in Detroit. "It's the worse kind of politics to break this down and say only a certain kind of person can represent a certain district."
Levin, the brother of Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., has represented the suburban Detroit district since 1982 but the territory was redrawn after the 2000 Census to include more of Macomb County, making it more Roman Catholic and conservative than the old district. Callahan is Catholic. "I think that the issue of religious affiliation was put to rest in American political life 40 years ago by John F. Kennedy," Levin said in a statement issued from his Washington office. "Religion is important to us in America; it is practiced privately and with great pride -- it should never be exploited for political purposes. The appeals made by Mr. Callahan have no place in America and are being roundly condemned."
Levin said he believes voters in his district are "repelled by suggestions that they should vote for or against a candidate based on their religion or ethnicity." St. Clair Shores Mayor Ted Wahby said he was surprised by Callahan's remarks, calling them "very much out of character."