Kerry chases Mo. votes at church

Monday, March 29, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:01 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

John Kerry, speaking Sunday to churchgoers on the city’s north side, rejected President Bush’s claim to be a compassionate conservative and said the administration was neglecting the less fortunate.

“Today we are told that, after 3 million lost jobs and so many lost hopes, America is now turning a corner,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said. “But those who say that, they’re not standing on the corner of Highland Street, where two 15-year-old teenagers were hit in a drive-by shooting last week.”

Kerry never mentioned Bush by name, instead aiming his criticism at “our present national leadership.” In appealing to worshippers to oppose the devout Christian president, Kerry cited Scripture and an African proverb: “When you pray, move your feet.”

“The Scriptures say, what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” Kerry told the congregation at New North Side Baptist Church. “When we look at what is happening in America today, where are the works of compassion?”

Kerry is Roman Catholic, but his support for abortion rights is at odds with Vatican teachings.

“I don’t tell church officials what to do, and church officials shouldn’t tell American politicians what to do in the context of our public life,” Kerry told Time magazine.

Kerry spent the weekend campaigning in Missouri, a state he hopes to take from Bush’s win column in the November election. Bush defeated Gore 50 percent to 47 percent in the state in 2000.

Before church, Kerry stopped at Chris’ Pancakes & Dining, where his physical appearance seemed to be the top concern among diners who agreed that he looked better in person than on television.

“That’s the third time this morning I’ve heard that!” Kerry said after being complimented by diner Eda Grassi. He replied that he’d have to start working on his camera angles.

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