Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Is Bush Seeking to Revive the Religious Test for Public Office?

The Christian Right of the 18th century didn't like the U.S. Constitution because it did not declare that the U.S. a Christian nation. Not only that, but the Consitution explicitly banned religious tests for public office in Article Six. This set in motion of the disestablishment of the official churches in the colonies that had mostly functioned as little theocracies -- and made the United States the first nation in the history of the world to be founded on religious equality. But the Christian nationalists have never given up.

Now the Bush administration, way down in the polls and facing a conservative revolt over the nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court is making at least a gesture in the direction of giving the Christian Right one of its dearest goals: the revival of the religious test for public office.

The New York Times reported this morning: "On a radio show being broadcast Wednesday, [religious broadcaster James] Dobson said he discussed Miers with [White House political strategist Karl] Rove on Oct. 1, two days before her nomination was announced. Dobson said Rove told him 'she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life,' but denied he had gotten any assurances from the White House that she would vote to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion."

Later in the day, the Campaign to Defend the Constitution (DefCon) issued a blistering statement denouncing the apparent White House collaboration with Christian Right leader James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family. "I am deeply troubled by the appearance that the President is applying a religious litmus test for his judicial appointments," said Isaac Kramnick, professor of government at Cornell University. "Such a test violates the Constitutional prohibition on religious tests as a qualification for public office."

"Since 2002," Kramnick continued, "the President has repeatedly said that he will appoint judges who believe that God is the source of our civil rights. The notion of asking judges to acknowledge a source of law other than – and perhaps higher than - the Constitution is unacceptable. It shatters the fundamental premise of our founders that the Constitution itself is the supreme law of the land."

Later today, an Associated Press story underscored Kramnick's concern: "'People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers,' Bush told reporters at the White House. 'Part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion.'"

"Bush, speaking at the conclusion of an Oval Office meeting with visiting Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, said that his advisers were reaching out to conservatives who oppose her nomination 'just to explain the facts.' He spoke on a day in which conservative James Dobson, founder of Focus on Family, said he had discussed the nominee's religious views with presidential aide Karl Rove."

Meanwhile, according to The Boston Globe, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, speaking to a Republican group in North Carolina recently, warned of the danger of Islamic theocracy in the United States.

While the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism around the world are certainly not to be minimized, someone needs to tell Gov. Romney that the theocratic movement in the United States is not trending Islamic.


Blogger Bruce Wilson said...

I didn't know that Mitt Romney was contemplating a career switch, to standup comedy, should he lose his upcoming bid to retain control of the Mass. governership next year.

But I'm not sure if Romney will be able to stretch his "Islamic theocracy in America" spoof far enough to sustain a professional standup career. His material may just be poorly conceived due to its evocation of the real threat posed to the American political system by the Christian right theocratic movement.

Should Mr. Romney opt to move back to Utah, though, he could entertain venues in that state with biting observations derived from the pecularities of Mormon family life, and could even - should all else fail to warm up his audiences - pad his routine with gratuitious sendups on polygamy.

7:04 AM  
Blogger Bruce Wilson said...

I would also add that the Bush clan, not suprisingly, is known to be highly competitive and so one might surmise that President Bush, having touted the threat of militant Islam so incessantly, has become fixated - as an envisioned point of national pride - on instituting religious tests for American political office lest the Islamic world get there first.

And - per Mitt Romney's burlesque routine on the threat of Islamic theocracy in America - Mr. Bush may have concluded that imposing a Christian right clerical dictatorship in the United States would be the surest bulwark against those legions of Taliban almost surely hiding in the cellars of Georgetown and awaiting a call to rise and storm Capital Hill and the White House.

7:15 AM  

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