CHICAGO, Aug. 28 (AP) - Again pushing the boundaries between the spiritualand secular, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman saidMonday that "religion is a source of unity and strength in America."

"This is the most religious country in the world and sometimes, we try tostifle that fact or hide it," Lieberman told 150 religious leaders at aninterfaith breakfast. "But the profound and ultimately, most importantreality is that we are not only citizens of this blessed country, we arecitizens of the same awesome God."

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush praised membersof a Jewish group for performing "miracles of renewal" with faith-basedcommunity programs, which he supports.

"Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model tothe world of justice and inclusion and diversity without division. Jews andChristians and Muslims speak as one in their commitment to a kind, justtolerant society," Bush told B'nai B'rith, a Jewish service organization. Both candidates have embraced religion as a means of reaching voters.

Lieberman, warmly received by the spiritual leaders, said he was moved thatthe gathering crossed religious lines "because it makes real for me what Ihave believed with profound faith throughout my life, that religion is asource of unity and strength in America."

He met with pastors, priests and rabbis at the South Shore Cultural Center,a former country club that banned blacks and Jews. In greeting the group,Lieberman quoted a line from a Hebrew song, Hine Ma Tov, that calls for"brothers and sisters to dwell together in harmony."

A day earlier in Detroit, he told members of a black church that he hopeshis candidacy as an Orthodox Jew will reinstate "a place for faith inAmerica's public life." For all the billing aides give to issues like health insurance, Medicare andprescription drug coverage, Lieberman manages to bring the discussion backto God. Bush also talks about his faith.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who accompanied Lieberman around the cityMonday, acknowledged the power of prayer in politics.

"We know there's a separation of church and state in America, but at thesame time, elected officials realize that they're all citizens right here aswell as religious leaders. They're congregations are citizens as well, andthat's why you have to build this relationship up," Daley said.

Bush praised B'nai B'rith in a conference call from Austin, Texas, saying,"Your works have touched millions of hearts and are a testament to thepower of faith."

"I want to rally the armies of compassion that exist in every communityacross America," Bush said. "A truly welcoming culture must recognize thatevery person is created in the image and likeness of God. We must appreciatethe all people."

Bush campaigns as a different kind of Republican, a "compassionateconservative" who welcomes help from faith-based groups on everything fromeducation to fighting drugs.

Earlier in the day, Lieberman told Democratic activists he's "not askinganybody to vote for me because of my religion."

"Hopefully, on Election Day that will be an irrelevant factor as I think itis today for most Americans. And Al Gore and I offer ourselves to America asthe team that's best for America on the merits," he said.

Lieberman also told the activists he believes the campaign has experienced atransformation in the three weeks since Gore chose him as a running mate.

"I think the public finally opened up to Al," Lieberman said. "Of coursethese last three weeks have been wonderful in another more tangible way,which is that the polls have turned in our direction and we're on a roll."

Lieberman also attended a rally with about 1,200 supporters at the Plumber'sHall.

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