Friday, April 22


Colbert King is fighting mad about the "hijacking of Christianity" by the "religious right." I feel the same way, yet I know I shouldn't be, as it is simply one more Biblical prophecy being confirmed in our day.

I am a committed Christian, an evangelical, fundamentalist Christian, if you want the specifics. I am also a lifelong progressive Democrat, a political position determined by my Christian beliefs. I remember my conservative mother saying often in my youth, "D----- is left-wing, but I don't worry about it because I know it's driven by her religious convictions."

In one of the most outrageous smears to be uttered by a so-called religious leader, Perkins said that "activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups . . . have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms." That is an unmitigated lie that should not be allowed to stand.

Which judges are out to rob Christians of their heritage? That is religious McCarthyism. Perkins should name them, provide evidence of their attempted theft of "our Christian heritage" or retract that statement with an apology. Don't count on that happening.

Angered by Democratic opposition to some of President Bush's judicial nominees, Perkins's group has also put out a flier charging that "the filibuster . . . is being used against people of faith." To suggest Democrats are out to get "people of faith" is despicable demagoguery that the truly faithful ought to rise up and reject.
Where do those on the religious right get off thinking they have the right to decide who is in and who is out? Who appointed them sole promoters and defenders of the faith? What makes them think they are more holy and righteous than the rest of us?

They are not now and never will be the final arbiters of Christian beliefs and values. They warrant as much deference as religious leaders as do members of the Ku Klux Klan, who also marched under the cross.

They should be resisted, not pandered to by politicians.
The Bergen Record in Hackensack, N.J., editorialized that the attempt by the Christian right to dominate all three branches of government "has to frighten anyone who is not a Christian conservative. It should frighten us all." Baloney. It should make us mad. Fighting mad.

The fact is, the Bible warns us against people who will use Scriptures selectively and cynically to achieve their own earthly ends (Matthew 7:15-23, Matthew 24:11, 2 Timothy 4:3-4). Even if you are a Christian, as am I, you should weigh (1 Corinthians 14) the words of any man who professes to speak for the Lord by the Scriptures. Fundamentalist Christianity is fundamentally a Gospel of love, tolerance, and sacrifice, a calling to emulate the actions and teachings of Jesus Christ, a spirit not actively demonstrated by the "religious right."

Law professor Marci Hamilton addresses the issue of "activist anti-Christian judges":

Absurdly, Frist and his fellows charge that the Democrats are "anti-religion" -- despite the fact that the vast majority of them are in fact also people of faith. The issue plainly isn't really religion, per se; virtually everyone in this debate is religious. The issue, it appears, is the wish to control public policy from a narrow religious perch.

What upsets the "People of Faith" -- and the Republican party for now -- is not the lie that Democrats are anti-religion; they plainly are not. It is the truth that the courts have not followed the far right's own political and religious dictates. But if the far right is upset with this, that simply means it is upset with the Constitution. Indeed, its discomfiture goes well beyond specific constitutional issues to the very bedrock of American liberty and constitutionalism -- it is attacking the separation of powers and the rule of law.
The Republicans' claim that people of faith have been rejected because of their faith is simply factually false. The reasons for rejection have ranged from political world views, to an inclination to impose religious beliefs on secular law, to advocacy of the diminution of civil rights, and more. And all of these reasons have been made quite public.

Essentially, the far right ring of the Republican party that now controls the Bush White House is interested in appointing as many activist judges as it can to overturn Roe v. Wade, Lawrence v. Texas, and those decisions under the Religion Clauses -- the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause -- that have rightly precluded religious conservatives from dominating the schools, the courthouses, and public grounds. Inclusion is a right, but domination and coercion are Establishment Clause violations, and ones that often inhibit the Free Exercise rights of others.

As should be obvious by now, "activism" is a code word for results not desired by the speaker.
Even if politics must define the Supreme Court -- and the truth is, law defines it far more -- then today's name-calling by both the far left and the far right misses the mark. This Court is, in fact, a Goldwater and a Reagan Republican Court.

The Goldwater Republicans, embodied by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, believed in individual rights, separation of church and state, and federalism. No wonder, then, that they believe that no single religious viewpoint should determine whether a woman could obtain an abortion.

Meanwhile, the Reagan Republicans were united under a single banner of smaller government (which translates into states' rights, or federalism).
Consider judicial nominations. Plainly, the right solution is the moderate one -- and the commonsensical one as well. It is patently obvious that excellence and independence of judgment are the only qualities the Administration and the Senate should be seeking in our federal judges, who will serve for decades and face literally thousands of issues. But these qualities are antithetical to the one that is being sought by Frist and DeLay: the willingness to take orders, either from the political branches or a particular religious group.



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