When it comes to talking about religion Howard Dean, the normally talkative former Vermont governor, is quieter than some of the other candidates running for President. Dean attributes this to his upbringing:
"For whatever reason, New Englanders are the most reluctant of Americans to share their faith openly. I don't know why that is. It is just a cultural difference," he said.
A story from the Reuters newswire says that the South Carolina primary is forcing Dean to talk more about his religious beliefs.
"I think that I am gradually getting more comfortable with talking about religion in a way that I did not talk about it before," the former Vermont governor said. "It hasn't made me more religious or less religious than I was, but it means I am willing to talk about it in different ways."
Dean is a member of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Burlington, Vermont. A recent article in United Church News, the national newsletter of the United Church of Christ, talked about Dean’s church life.
According to his pastor, the Rev. Robert A. Lee of First Congregational UCC in Burlington, Vt., "Howard Dean is known in this community and in the church as a person with strong principled views who speaks his mind and stands up for what he believes in."
One of those beliefs led him to stand up for and sign Vermont's civil union legislation that provides samesex couples with the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples.
"It [civil unions] was a simple matter of right and wrong. Even though it was politically risky, it was the right thing to do," Lee says. "Gov. Dean signed the bill without fanfare, without letting those who opposed it use the signing ceremony as another opportunity to be divisive."