Saturday, April 16, 2005

Religious test

From the NY Times Editorial Page

Right-wing Christian groups and the Republican politicians they bankroll have done much since the last election to impose their particular religious views on all Americans. But nothing comes close to the shameful declaration of religious war by Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, over the selection of judges for federal courts.....

It is one thing when private groups foment this kind of intolerance. It is another thing entirely when it's done by the highest-ranking member of the United States Senate, who swore on the Bible to uphold a Constitution that forbids the imposition of religious views on Americans....

We fully understand that a powerful branch of the Republican Party believes that the last election was won on "moral values." Even if that were true, that's a far cry from voting for one religion to dominate the entire country. President Bush owes it to Americans to stand up and say so.

From the point of view of politics, the last sentence of the Times article ("President Bush owes it to Americans to stand up and say so.") is EXACTLY what the Democrats should demand. Your with us or against us, and all that. The Democrats should insist that Bush either reject this sort of extremism, or publicly admit that he embraces it. And, if he fails to, accuse him (accurately) of mealy-mouthed trying-to-have-it-both-ways flip-flopping. You know the sort of thing: "I thought Bush was supposed to be a straight talkers. So, Mr. Bush, do you agree with Senator Frist that only those who support your nominees are "people of faith"? Or not? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm?"

But the Times should ALSO run this little piece from our Constitution. On the front page. The Republicans seem to have forgotten that it exists:

"[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." - The Constitution of the United States, Article VI, Clause 3

Think about it: by saying that rejecting Bush's nominees is an attack on "people of faith," Frist is tacitly admitting that "faith" is a major criterion in selecting those nominees, isn't he?

Incidentally, I called Senator Frist's office yesterday and let the person who answered the phone know what I think. UNfortunately - although I had intended to remain calm and reasoned (you get a better hearing that way), I didn't. I started the phone call that way, but didn't end it that way, at all, at all.

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