Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Justice Sunday

I’ve been thinking about other things, and so haven’t had the time or the energy or anything particularly incisive to say about the brouhaha stirred up by secularists and the religious Left regarding Senator Bill Frist’s participation in the Family Research Council’s Justice Sunday. But in this morning’s WaPo, Colbert King finally got to me. Here is merely the most offensive line in an inflammatory column:

They [religious conservatives] 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.

I assume that Tony Perkins and James Dobson have thick skins, but this kind of invective has no place and shows only how desperate opponents of President Bush’s judicial nominees are.

The Interfaith Alliance’s C. Welton Gaddy actually goes further than the offensive Colbert King, arguing that the President’s judicial nominees are in fact incipient theocrats:

I oppose the election of judges who will, in the name of religion, make decisions that politicize religion and blunt the vitality as well as compromise the integrity of the rich religious community in this nation.

I’ll let his misstatement of the judicial nomination process pass, but not his attempt to claim that these nominees are making religious rather than constitutional or legal judgments.

In his letter, Gaddy also resurrects a meme that I thought was restricted to anti-Semites and anti-Catholic bigots, accusing religious conservatives of loving their country only when it serves their religion, i.e., of being unpatriotic (unlike Gaddy and his supporters: true patriots oppose religious conservatives, who put love of God above love of country). I could say more, but you probably don’t want an exposition of Augustine’s City of God right now.

I’ll restrict myself to saying this: all the efforts to try to intimidate Bill Frist, accusing him of fanning the flames of religious bigotry or pandering to religious bigots by appearing on the FRC program, suggest a fear that his appearance, and the program itself, will actually be effective in mobilizing those values voters. Yes, the FRC and Focus on the Family are religious groups. But what they are asking for is an up-or-down vote on judicial nominees, not a religious test for office-holding. Whatever faith or reasons move them, the position they’re actually supporting is consistent with long-standing Senate practice (actually voting on nominees). Yes, there’s a slippery slope somewhere, and the judiciary may be the only remaining bastion of secular liberalism, but the alternative is not theocracy, but rather sober constitutional jurisprudence.

Update: You can read other folks’ thoughts
here (Paul Mirengoff of Powerline), here (Win Myers of Democracy Project), and here (Hunter Baker of Reform Club).

Discussions - 10 Comments

Amen, Joe. A better man than I, you managed "to speak the truth in charity" about these vicious men.

King wrote: “It means challenging them when they say of Americans who support a woman’s right to choose; the right of two adults to enter into a loving, committed, state-sanctioned, monogamous relationship; the right to pursue science in support of life; the right of the aggrieved to launch aggressive assaults against racism, sexism and homophobia, that they are not legitimate members of the flock.”

I get the abortion and gay marriage references, but I need help with the rest; what is he talking about?
G.M.

Great post. Does the US have much history of Roman Catholic bishops organizing their flock as a voting bloc, which might help to explain some of this Rousseaun civil religion invective?

Up here in Canada (which explains my ignorance of US history), we get a lot of it from secularists in Quebec - formerly Roman Catholic but highly secular since the 1960s. In the 19th century, however, the Church basically ran the province and often told its parishioners to vote Conservative over and against the "rouge" Liberals, whom they regarded as Jacobins.

Looking around today, I think they may have been correct to regard the Liberals as Jacobins.

George - It sounds like he’s simply replacing thinking with sloganeering at that point (if not from the start).

G.M. -- the last two references are to 1) stem cell research, and 2) multicultural PCism on college campuses. Essentially, he’s saying the Right is stupid and evil because 1) it doesn’t condone killing babies for their stem cells and 2) takes exception to the ideological imbalance (and the absurdities that result) on college campuses. In short, King is a Leftwing nutjob who is incapable of seeing both sides of an argument. What’s new...he’s a MSM "journalist."

And we should wish him well. Every time one of these "moveon.org" types engages in a rant of this kind, the Right grows stronger.

Mea Culpa, I think I got his King’s last veiled reference wrong. He is referring to the Catholic hierarchy’s refusal to tolerate gays or ease Christian precepts in the name of multicultural "peace." Same would go for Protestants in King’s mind, I’m sure.

Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Co, attacked James Dobson in yesterday’s Colorado Springs Gazette over ads Dobson’s "Focus on the Family" ran in state newspapers last week. I fisked the attack on my blog, Old Patriot’s Pen. Basically, Salazar "answered" questions Dobson didn’t ask, attacked things Dobson didn’t say, and twisted the entire thing seven ways from straight, without actually discussing the content of the ad. I’ve found that’s how the Democrats treat most subjects, since they can’t really discuss what’s true, or answer the questions actually asked.

I would offer Rediscovering Civility and Purpose in America’s Public Discourse as further commentary on this topic.

In addition, Pope Benedict XVI: Offering Faith as an Antidote to Relativism offers some related thoughts by the new Pope.

Finally, William Voegeli of the Claremont Institute has a thoughtful editorial.

All well and good, but Sen Frist had better watch his (left) flank! Also: he would be more convincing of his true purposes if he would just let us know where he really stands on the issues and FIGHT for his pricples!

Four years ago, Perkins addressed the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), America’s premier white supremacist organization, the successor to the White Citizens Councils, which battled integration in the South. In 1996 Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,000 for his mailing list. At the time, Perkins was the campaign manager for a right-wing Republican candidate for the US Senate in Louisiana. The Federal Election Commission fined the campaign Perkins ran $3,000 for attempting to hide the money paid to Duke.
More here.

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