Michigan voters have been besieged by a flood of phone calls yesterday and today accusing Governor George W. Bush of being anti-Catholic. The callers, who identify themselves as issuing a “Catholic voter alert,” are accusing Bush of anti-Catholicism and are urging them to vote for Senator John McCain; the Arizona senator was labeled “a friend of Catholics.” This comes in the wake of Bush’s address at Bob Jones University in South Carolina, a school that still publishes anti-Catholic material.

Gov. Bush is reported as saying that “this is a campaign ad paid for by John McCain.” But his campaign office later said that McCain did not run the ads.

Catholic League president William Donohue spoke to this issue today:

“I have no reason to believe that George W. Bush is anti-Catholic and neither does anyone else. To be sure, I have questioned the propriety of launching the Bush campaign in South Carolina at Bob Jones University, a patently anti-Catholic institution, and I continue to do so. But that isn’t sufficient grounds to brand someone anti-Catholic.

“There is plenty of blame to go around. Those who are accusing Bush of being anti-Catholic are unjust and they are exploiting this serious issue for political profit. Indeed, we need to know who put these people up to this smear tactic. Bush, on the other hand, has not offered a satisfactory explanation why he began his South Carolina campaign at Bob Jones University and he is also wrong to accuse the McCain camp of orchestrating these phone calls when he now admits he lacks the evidence.

“A member of the board of directors of the Catholic League was also targeted with one of these demagogic phone calls. We look to both Bush and McCain to speak responsibly to this issue.”

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