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Church State Issues

Rep. Ed Ableser mixes religion and government????

Oct 31, 2010

By: Mike Branom, Tribune

October 31, 2008 - 12:46PM

Tempe lawmaker rapped for too much religion

It’s usually the political candidates eschewing religious services who come under attack from their opponents. But Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, is hearing criticism for having too much God in his life.

Ableser’s conversion to Mormonism for marriage should disqualify him from his job as a youth counselor, the wife of a GOP challenger recently told the Tribune.

Connie Thompson, married to Mark Thompson, said in an e-mail that Ableser “is part Jewish, part Christian and now part Mormon. This guy has no idea what he is and shouldn’t be counseling kids.”

Ableser works as a mental health counselor with Phoenix’s Roosevelt Elementary School District.

Connie Thompson also e-mailed the Tribune a photograph of Ableser with his fianceé and a baptism cake.

Ableser represents District 17, which takes in Tempe and south Scottsdale. He and fellow incumbent Rep. David Schapira are pitted against Republicans Mark Thompson and Wes Waddle.

Ableser had not heard of Thompson’s remarks before being asked for comment.

“What is wrong with her?” replied a stunned Ableser.

On Ableser’s legislative Web site, his biography states he “currently serves as a worship-service producer to the University Presbyterian Church.”

That is still true, Ableser said, although since June he also has been attending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And his fianceé has joined Ableser at Presbyterian services

“Obviously, Connie and Mark have no respect for religion whatsoever,” said Ableser, who also has a Jewish family history. “Talk about godless.”

Mark Thompson agreed with his wife, but only to a degree.

“The guy seems confused to me,” Mark Thompson said of Ableser. “In a three- to four-month period, he’s just all over the place.”

But does that mean he shouldn’t be working with children?

“Well, I won’t say that. I won’t say that,” said a chuckling Mark Thompson. “That’s probably (Connie) not getting enough sleep recently.”

Connie Thompson’s attack is the flip side of negative campaigning that focuses on whether a candidate is sufficiently religious.

That approach recently reared its head in North Carolina, where incumbent U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole attacked her Democratic opponent as not believing in God.

The attack stems from Kay Hagan’s attendance at a fund-raising event co-hosted by a board member of the political action committee Godless Americans.

Hagan, a Presbyterian church elder, is suing Dole for defamation and libel.

According to recent polls, Hagan holds a lead in the mid-single digits.