"There is no other race in America today where the candidates' views of what America is now, and what it can become tomorrow, are so at odds," 33-year old Tim LeFever, a Christian business and a candidate for Congress in California's Third District.

LeFever's Democratic opponent, seven-term incumbent Vic Fazio, made a move to become a household name in June by lambasting what he called the "radical Religious Right." By implication, Fazio was including in that list LeFever, a political novice who is in the real estate and financial consulting business. LeFever helped establish two religious liberties organizations—the Western Center for Law and Religious Freedom and the Rutherford Institute of California. He also serves on the board of the Sacramento chapter of Youth for Christ.

Fazio, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, accused politically active religious conservatives of "intolerance" and of attempting to take over the Republican party. Conservatives' push into mainstream politics, he said, "is what the American people fear the most." Fazio went on to convene the Radical Right Task Force, apparently for the purpose of enabling his Democratic colleagues to monitor and counter the effects of the Christian Right.

Conservative commentators promptly took Fazio to task for his remarks, accusing him of religious bigotry based on his lack of respect for the rights of Christians to express their political values.

Fazio contends he does not object to "anybody of faith" taking part in politics, but he is troubled by "people who masquerade as members of a given church in order to make a political argument more effective."

He has defended his remarks in part by claiming that the involvement of the Religious Right bodes ill for the GOP'S efforts to reclaim the White House.

LeFever likens this to "Tonya Harding warning Nancy Kerrigan to check her skate laces." He believes Fazio's anti-Right sentiment is at heart a calculated political move.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.