This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, January 8, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church (search) in New Hampshire is criticizing some Democratic presidential hopefuls who are using his church as a backdrop for photo ops rather than a serious place to discuss the issues.
Joining us now is the Reverend Arthur Hilson. He is the senior pastor at the New Hope Baptist Church.
Reverend, how are you, sir? Thank you for being with us.
REV. ARTHUR HILSON, SENIOR PASTOR, NEW HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH: Thank you.
HANNITY: You actually used the term -- you are frustrated with Democratic presidential candidates who "pimp" the church. You used that phrase.
HILSON: Yes, and that's picked up a lot of press, apparently. What I mean by that is we have candidates who come by the church, who come saying they want to come and hear the people, will meet with them after service, hear their concerns.
Unfortunately, they come in, take a few photos and have to leave. And so I think that's just taking advantage of the church.
HANNITY: Well, you in particular were -- have expressed, at least in some of the articles that I read, frustration with a photo that was taken in front of your church with frontrunner in New Hampshire Howard Dean.
Tell us what that's about.
HLISON: Well, that's just one example. The Dean people came in, and they asked prior to coming, "Can you have your wife stand by you, meet him at the door? Can your wife sit with him in the pew? She sings in the choir, but can she be in the pew?"
And so we said, "OK, we'll put her in the pew." She was there. They took a photograph, and rather than stay for the session to meet our people, they had to leave.
The photograph appeared November 10 in the Newsweek, talking about his swing through the churches in the South.
And so this has been a pattern. It's not just Dean. It's been the pattern down through the years.
HANNITY: And those are very strong words, Reverend, pimping the church. That's a very tough charge. But so they don't care about participating in services or what not.
What did you think about -- we know that Howard Dean earlier in the campaign had mentioned that he didn't think God should be an issue in the campaign, but now he's come up with a God and religion strategy.
Is he manipulating -- is he manipulating...
HILSON: Well, what do you think?
HANNITY: I think the answer is yes.
HILSON: He says he doesn't want to put God in it, but comes to God's house to see people.
And mind you, when he came to our church, for example, there are two American Baptist Churches in Portland. There's one church that's twice the size of our church. The only difference is our church is African-American.
And so it would appear to me he came to get some pictures with African-Americans. He was not about hearing Baptists, not about hearing the people of God, but to get what I think is a photograph he might use to talk about his inclusiveness to speak about it.
HANNITY: I've got to tell you something. I want to come to your church and I want to go for the services. So I think I'd really enjoy that.
PAT HALPIN, GUEST CO-HOST: And Reverend, I want to check how much Sean puts in the basket when it's passed.
But let me come back to this. Reverend, look, it's not unusual for political candidates to come to church, especially black churches, where they've been historically very welcoming. It's flattering for the congregation.
HILSON: Yes, it still is.
HALPIN: It gives them a chance to talk to the people. But -- So when you say pimping, that's pretty strong language, don't you think?
HLISON: Well, if I had a bunch of speechwriters who would find some nice smooth words to use, that's fine. I don't have time for that.
The fact is when they come and call us, they say we want to come. What will you do? I said, "Well, we'll give you time to be introduced during our business period, and after that meet our people to hear their concerns."
And they said, "Yes, we'll do that."
But it seems that once they come in, introduced, and they get up, they have to leave all of a sudden. They've got their photographs and they're gone.
HALPIN: Now, Joe Lieberman (search)...
HILSON: That's not the intent.
HALPIN: Joe Lieberman was there. Did he stick around?
HILSON: Joe Lieberman came in and spoke about his faith. We gave him time to speak. And I got a note that said he had to leave, could he speak now and he has to go. And so he didn't make that after-service time to talk with people, to hear our concerns.
HALPIN: So your beef is that they should have stuck around and actually talked to the members of your congregation?
HILSON: If you come and the plans you've laid out with your advance people is you want to come there, be introduced, and then meet our people and take questions, if that's what they say they're going to do, then do it. But every time they come, there's always a rush.
Now, there's been an exception. There were a couple people who came who stayed for the service. It's interesting that there was a congressman from New York, Weeks, who came for Kerry, stayed for the service. An African-American Congressman.
And there was Carol Moseley Braun (search) who came and stayed for the service.
It would appear to me that those people who understand the meaning of our service, how sacred it is, and it's not a time to be taken lightly.
HALPIN: Reverend, I agree with you. Look, I used to be an elected official as a county executive in Suffolk County and spent a lot of time in black churches. Those are not short services. But you understand when you go you're staying out of respect.
HILSON: Yes, and I make it very clear that our service runs for about an hour, an hour and a half.
HALPIN: That's right. And...
HILSON: There it is.
HALPIN: ... out of respect for the congregation.
HILSON: Respect for the house of worship. That's right.
HANNITY: Well, Reverend, keep us in your prayers. We really appreciate it. And I...
HILSON: Well, I certainly will.
HANNITY: If I come to your church, I want to hear the sermon. I absolutely mean that.
HILSON: Our doors swing open into the love. Come on by and worship with us.
HANNITY: All right. Thank you, Reverend. Good to see you. And I appreciate the fact that you're standing up like this.
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