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Conservative Church Rally Backs U.S. Help for Contras

United Press International

A group of conservative religious protesters, claiming to represent more than 100,000 churches across the nation, Wednesday urged Congress to approve President Reagan’s request for $100 million in aid for the Nicaraguan rebels known as contras.

Representatives of various Protestant, Catholic and Jewish organizations gathered on the Capitol steps to counter a rally earlier this year in which liberal religious leaders called the President’s contra aid request immoral.

“The liberal ministers who spoke out against contra aid do not represent the religious majority in America,” said Dr. Tim LaHay, chairman of the American Coalition for Traditional Values, which claims a membership of more than 100,000 churches.

Bearing banners reading “Stop Marxist Ortega” and “Defend the Americas,” the demonstrators presented a petition in support of Reagan’s funding request to Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and California William Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton), who support military aid to the contras.

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The petition, signed by 250 religious leaders, called on the President and Congress “to oppose by whatever means may be necessary, the totalitarian Marxist-Leninist presence in Nicaragua.”

The religious leaders claimed that Nicaragua’s Sandinista government has persecuted religious groups and destroyed houses of worship.

The U.S.-backed contras are fighting to overthrow the Sandinistas.


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