"Candidates should feel comfortable explaining their religious convictionsto voters," the league said in a statement. "At the same time, however, webelieve there is a point at which an emphasis on religion in a politicalcampaign becomes inappropriate and even unsettling in a religiously diversesociety such as ours."
The statement was signed by Howard P. Berkowitz, national chairman of theleague, and its director, Abraham H. Foxman. The league's focus is fightinganti-Semitism.
Lieberman, the first Jew on a major political party's ticket, told aninterfaith breakfast in Chicago on Monday: "This is the most religiouscountry in the world and sometimes we try to stifle that fact or hide it.But the profound and ultimately most important reality is that we are notonly citizens of this blessed country, we are citizens of the same awesomeGod."
The league cited specifically Lieberman's remarks Sunday to the congregationof a church in Detroit. He said he hoped his candidacy as an Orthodox Jewwould reinstate "a place for faith in America's public life."
"As a people, we need to reaffirm our faith and renew the dedication of ournation and ourselves to God and God's purposes," Lieberman said.
The Anti-Defamation League responded: "Language such as this risksalienating the American people."
"We feel very strongly, and we hope you would agree, that appealing alongreligious lines, or belief in God, is contrary to the American ideal,"Berkowitz and Foxman said in a letter sent Monday to Lieberman, aConnecticut senator. "The First Amendment requires that government neithersupport one religion over another nor the religious over the nonreligious."
The organization said it sent similar letters to eight presidentialcandidates in December before the start of the primary election season. Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee, and theRepublican nominee, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, have spoken often of theirown religious beliefs.
Bush told the annual convention of B'nai B'rith International in Washingtonon Monday, "Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be amodel to the world of justice and inclusion and diversity withoutdivision."