TOPEKA — Kansas Republican Sam Brownback said Wednesday that he disagrees with many statements by controversial evangelist Lou Engle and hasn't talked to him in months.
Brownback, the GOP nominee for governor, commented on his ties to Engle following a televised debate in Topeka. Engle has urged Christians to fast and pray that "God, the avenger of blood" will heal the nation's sins of abortion and homosexuality.
The Kansas Democratic Party posted an Internet ad Monday raising questions about Brownback's connections with Engle and whether they would affect Brownback's administration. The party said Kansas residents deserve to know more about the men's relationship as they decide the next governor.
"They should know that Lou said things that I don't agree with," Brownback said. "I haven't talked to him in months."
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Messages left for Engle at his headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., were not immediately returned. An Associated Press reporter also visited an International House of Prayer there affiliated with Engle and was told by an employee that he didn't know where Engle was.
Democrat Tom Holland declined to participate in Wednesday's debate, the last scheduled before the Nov. 2 election. His campaign manager, Dana Houle, called for more clarification about what Engle statements Brownback doesn't like.
Engle and Brownback shared a Washington, D.C., apartment after a fire destroyed the building where Brownback was living in 2000. In their ad, Democrats refer to Engle as Brownback's "roommate and confidant."
Brownback said he and Engle have worked together on a few issues, including apologies to Native Americans and African-Americans, in the U.S. Senate.
"They're good things. Those were the substantive items I worked with him on," Brownback said. "It has not been about other agenda items alleged."
He said that while he opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, his views are different than Engle's. Brownback also said he supports the military's policy on allowing gays and lesbians in its ranks if they don't publicly disclose their orientation, known as "don't ask, don't tell."
In 2007, Brownback spoke at an Engle event in Nashville, Tenn., where he urged Americans to find goodness, which would lead to greatness. Engle's ministry advocates intense prayer and fasting to atone for the nation's sins.
Engle has been outspoken about what he views as the need to protect Christians' rights in the U.S., and traveled to Uganda earlier this year to pray for the nation as its leaders considered anti-gay legislation that in some cases included the death penalty. The pastor tried to distance himself from the legislation, saying he went to Uganda to "pray and fast for this nation in crisis."
Brownback said he also doesn't support the death penalty for those cases proposed in Uganda, adding, "I don't follow all of what he says."
Engle and the Family Research Council held an Internet prayer broadcast in 2009 that sought divine intervention to block passage of the new federal health care act. An MSNBC report on the event, available on YouTube, shows Brownback participating.