Democrats, who have been taking a crash course in the language of religion in hopes of winning some "values voters" away from Republicans in time for the next election, are agitated about a telecast scheduled for today.
The event will feature not only some prominent religious conservatives, but also Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The announced purpose of "Justice Sunday" is to pressure senators to do away with the requirement of a "super majority" of 60 votes before a filibuster against President Bush's judicial nominees can be broken. The sponsors of the telecast, a coalition of Christian conservative groups, want a simple majority, improving the likelihood that most of Bush's nominees would be confirmed.
Democrats claim the telecast, which will be distributed to churches, Christian TV and radio stations and the Internet, will suggest members of their party are against "people of faith." They charge Republicans with exploiting religion for partisan ends. The New York Times and Washington Post published lead editorials last Saturday (Times) and Sunday (Post) criticizing the gathering.
The Times editorial was titled "Bill Frist's Religious War" and claimed the group sponsoring the telecast is guilty of "intolerance." It also asserted the judges Democrats may wish to filibuster are "unqualified."
Apparently the American Bar Association endorsement of these judges is no longer sufficient for the Times, which once believed ABA approval was the gold standard for determining the qualification of a candidate for the federal bench.
The Times, which needs to take some medication and lie down for a while, also charged Frist with trying to confirm judges who would "accept a theocratic test on decisions."
Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, must not have been paying attention to "progressive Christian" Rev. Jim Wallis, who has been trying to teach Democrats the language of faith.
Durbin said, "I cannot imagine that God -- with everything he has or she has to worry about -- is going to take the time to debate the filibuster in heaven." Gender confusion about God won't play well in red states, senator, where the deity is regarded as "Father."
This isn't really about religion. It's about results. Liberals have been happy to align themselves with clergy and congregants who preached a social gospel that mostly followed the Democratic Party line.
From abortion, to gay rights, the ordination of homosexual priests, same-sex "marriage," disarmament, peace movements, environmentalism, government programs and a host of other issues, any clergy or lay person who signed off on the agenda and objectives of liberals was more than welcome at the political table and was never thought to be a threat to the Constitution or accused of attempting to impose a theocracy.
But let conservatives organize to express themselves and suddenly we are told they are a danger to our way of life and religious storm troopers can soon be expected at the door to take us away in the middle of the night to dungeons where we will be brainwashed into accepting the religious and political doctrines of the uneducated fanatics.
For better, and sometimes for worse, "people of faith" have spoken to moral and political issues since before the founding of the nation. Why is the republic in danger only when conservative religious people speak and act? Why are only conservatives seeking to impose a "theocracy" and liberals are never charged with such motives?
The answer is that liberals fear their earthly power is slipping away. They are less able to impose a secular leftist world view on the country. They know that the courts have been the only means by which they have been able to force their views on a majority who do not share them.
Christian conservatives have the same constitutional right to use the political system to advance their views as religious and secular liberals do. Whether they should expect government to restore their view of righteousness is another matter. But to deny them that right is to make them second-class citizens and denigrate their faith. Isn't that the ultimate intolerance?
Tribune Media Services