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Friday, April 29, 2005

Judges 2: Attack of the Phantom Religious Menace

Bring It On is excited about the opportunity to bring new voices into the conversation. Our Guest Author this week is Matthew61. His work can be found here. His blog is, in his own words, "Thoughts from a Baptist minister in Virginia who is trying to raise an alternate voice to the Religious and Theocratic Right". We hope your find his writing as poignant as we do.

Judges 2: Attack of the Phantom Religious Menace
I am eagerly awaiting the next Star Wars movie, thus the title to this entry.

There is an attack on Christians in this country. At least that is what I am being told.


According to James Dobson, Al Molher, and Bill Frist good Christians are under attack. I am so glad they have my faith at interest, because if they didn't I would have absolutely no idea that my faith was under attack.

"FRC President Tony Perkins said Democrats were using filibusters to exclude religious believers from the bench. Holding up a Bible, he told the audience, "What we are saying tonight is that as American citizens, we should not have to choose between believing what is in this book and serving the public."

And Dobson, whose commentaries are carried on about 3,500 U.S. radio stations, called the filibusters "unconstitutional" and "inappropriate." He said Bush's re-election in November means he gets to pick who sits on the courts."

Tony Perkins has set up a false dichotomy here. In other words Democrats' choice is not about choosing the Bible or serving the public.

But what he has done is a nice cornerstone for a theocratic regime, because if the American electorate truly believes that our choices are between reading and following the Bible and civil government, then we are heading quicker down the road of a government lead by religious leaders, that lead our government as religious leaders.

And second, Dr. Dobson saying that because Bush won re-election means that he gets to pick who is on the court is yet another sign that our country is in severe need of a Social Studies lesson.

No Dr. Dobson, Mr. Bush does NOT get to pick who goes on the courts, this isn't a kickball game at recess, he gets to NOMINATE who goes on the court and then the Congress debates. That is how our forefathers set it up.

Third, from the amount of frustration it sounds like ALL of Bush's nominations have been shut down by the filibuster. If you read the accompanying CNN story that is not true.

Only 10, TEN! Out of 205 nominations have been blocked by a filibuster or the threat of one.

Let me say that again. TEN!

5% of Bush's nominations are blocked.

Or in other words 95% get a Senate vote in a Republican controlled Congress.

I don't know about you, but 5% does not sound like an attack to me.

Again it seems that for the Religious Right 95% compliance is not enough. Only 100% total assimilation is acceptable.

And for those that claim there is an attack on religious beliefs seem to be invoking the name of God. For me that is a clear infraction of the second commandment, you shall not take the Lord's name in vain.

Of course the second commandment is not just about "cussing" but about using God's name for purposes that are not God's or using it for self-serving reasons. Leaders of the Right may not being saying "God is against filibusters" but when it is said that filibusters are against God's people, then you are invoking God's presence and purpose, for your purpose.

God is not mocked.

The true danger here isn't just democracy, but theologically. We are being lied to when we are told our faith is under attack.

Living in the United States we have the freedom to say, write, and blog what ever we think and feel. And yes even in public schools, although you might not be able to hold a Bible study during regular instructional hours, you can have one after school on school property. A lot of FCA groups can attest to this.

And to say that our faith is under attack here in the US is truly disrespectful to our Christian brothers and sisters in China, Korea, and other places where being a professing Christian can get you killed. Being a professing Christian here in the US means someone may just not like you, but you won't be killed by the state for it.

The real tragedy here is that we are being lied to. A false war has been conjured up to knock down a fake enemy.

When the Religious Right wins this fake war we will be under the rule of a Religiously run government.

And that won't be as great as it sounds, because then they will decide if you are really religious and how you are lacking.

I know that sounds far fetched, but lets think about our current situation. Senator Frist has said that people of faith are under attack, of John Kerry's or Ted Kennedy's Catholic faith doesn't count. And don't even think about Bill Clinton's church going or Jimmy Carter's faith, or anybody else that doesn't vote Republican.

Faith is being defined very narrowly and in doctrinal terms from the floor of the Senate.

We are in dangerous waters when a Senator is allowed to define who is the faithful and who is not.

Originally posted 4/25/05 at Thoughts of a Minister

Posted by Jet N. at 12:01 AM in Religion | Permalink


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Tracked on Apr 28, 2005 11:17:23 AM


Amen! I mean really, I don't know what else to say except

"Freeze put your Bible in the air and turn around slowly"

"Is that the Book of Mormon?"

"That will not do!"

"Off with his head!"

I'm Catholic and don't see anyone attacking me right now except the Christian right!

Posted by: The Bastard | Apr 28, 2005 11:30:14 AM

According to George W. Bush's speech today, religion is a private matter and people of faith are not under attack...

Posted by: sally | Apr 29, 2005 12:33:14 AM

A matter of distinction:

1. Are any of these contested judges people of (any, not necessarely Christian) faith? Are they (verbally and politically) being attacked?

If the answer to both of these questions is yes then, technically, people of faith are being attacked, politically.

2. Now then, are these judges being attacked because they are people of faith or, put another way, is it their faith that is being attacked?

From what I have seen here, I would have to say that the answer is no.

Of course if the answer to the second question is no then the fact that the people who are being attacked are people of faith is utterly irrelevant.

I suppose that the people making the claim that the filibuster is an attack on people of faith is based upon the supposition that these judges are being opposed because the Democrats fear that these judges, being people of faith, are likely to make rulings that will infringe upon a woman's constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy. There may be other faith issues that might arise but this is probably what is at the root of the "people's faith is under attack" charge. I find this particularly likely since the people raising the charge are very much pro-life.

If this supposition is correct--that is, if that is the source of the charge, not if that is the real reason that they are being attacked--then it is easy to understand why the charge is being made. Of course, it is possible that this is the reason that these judges are being blocked and that the reasons that are being raised publically against them are just a smokescreen. However, I am not inclined to believe it.

After all, there is nothing to show that these judges, whatever their faith or their personal stance on abortion would influence their actual rulings upon any case before them. A judge is expected to rule based upon established legal precedent and Constitutional principles regardless of personal belief. To actually make the "faith is under attack" charge stick, one would have to show that a. these judges are any more likely than those judges that have been approved to overturn Roe v Wade or any other pro-abortion judgements or b. that the Democrats believe that they are. I don't see that argument even being made.

Posted by: Craig R. Harmon | Apr 29, 2005 3:33:09 AM

I agree that many people of faith were surprised to find out they were "under attack".

However, after reading statements such as "The future of democracy and ordered liberty actually depends on the outcome of this struggle," or, "We sent a message to Washington that there was a concern over the judiciary," and, "It was talked about often during the campaign. And yet now, a minority of members of the Senate -- the Democrats, essentially, and about six or eight very squishy Republicans -- are determined to prevent that influence from being felt on the court.", statements all made by Focus on the Family founder James Dobson to the crowd at the "Justice Sunday" rally, I conclude that that is the perception this radical religious right is pushing.

Six of the ten judicial nominees are being fought against due to their extreme judgments on property rights. Hardly an issue designed to fire up the radical religious right, so abortion is all you are hearing about. I believe concern over ceding control over zoning currently held by local county offices to business is worthy of inquiry. I laud the Dems and so-called "squishy" Republicans for their efforts. In my book, standing firm for truth and inquiry is not squishy.

This is hardly, as Dobson put it, "judicial tyranny to people of faith".

I think rallies such as Justice Sunday are attempts to man-handle judiciary appointments to suit a narrow political control agenda. That they accuse others of the very behavior they themselves engage in is not particularly Christian. I agree with Matthew61 that this type of politicking for a personal agenda while invoking God's name is against the second commandment. This abuse of Christianity for political control is wrong.

Posted by: Jet | Apr 29, 2005 12:58:30 PM

From http://saveourcourts.civilrights.org

William G. Myers III is being opposed because of his disregard and disrespect for the concerns of the Native American community and his troubling legal philosophy that would elevate property rights to a level of constitutional scrutiny reserved for fundamental rights, such as the right to free speech and equal protection. Among other things, but not because of his opposition to abortion or his Christian faith.

Terrence Boyle is being opposed because “Judge Boyle's record reflects a deep and abiding hostility to civil rights cases based on race, gender, disability, and age.” Not abortion rights or his Christian Faith.

Pricilla Owens is being opposed because of “of her activist and extreme views on important civil rights, worker's rights, consumer's rights, and women's rights issues.” So, maybe abortion is an issue with her. But, this has nothing to do with religion.

Brett Kavanaugh is being opposed because of his extreme partisan views and “Such a partisan advocate should not be confirmed for a lifetime position on the critically important D.C. Circuit.” This has nothing to do with religion.

William Pryor is being opposed because “Pryor has demonstrated a commitment to rolling back the clock on federal protections against discrimination based on race, gender, age, and disability. He has pushed his extremist agenda not only through litigation in which Alabama was a party, but also by electing to file amicus briefs in cases in which Alabama was not involved, and through numerous public speeches that make clear that the ideological positions he has taken in these cases are his own.” He is an extreme activist judge that the right claims it doesn’t want. However, his opposition has nothing to do with religion or abortion.

Thomas Griffith is being opposed because “His views on educational equity for women and girls, and the implication of those views for the continued vigorous enforcement of federal civil rights laws, compel us to conclude that Mr. Griffith is a poor choice for the federal appellate bench.” This has nothing to do with Christian Faith or abortion.

Janice Rogers Brown is being opposed because, “Brown's record as a California Supreme Court justice demonstrates a strong, persistent, and disturbing hostility toward affirmative action, civil rights, the rights of individuals with disabilities, workers' rights, and the fairness of the criminal justice system.” This has nothing to do with Christian Faith or abortion.

William Haynes II is being opposed because, “We believe that Haynes' record as the chief architect and defender of the administration's policies regarding the treatment of "enemy combatants" in the United States is so extremist that it raises serious doubts about his commitment to even the most rudimentary principles of due process and human rights.” So he likes the administration’s view on torture which has nothing to do with religion or abortion.

Posted by: Dr. Forbush | Apr 29, 2005 2:24:58 PM

First, I want to say that Jet has a good point.

But before I get to that, let me repeat myself, since many of you apparently either do not get this or hope to change the scope of the discussion by choosing deceptive statistics:

"205 confirmations" "and only 5%" are irrelevant statistics. Honest debate should not include them.

Why? We are talking about federal circuit courts of appeal, simply put, the most poweful courts outside of the supreme court. To imply that Democrats confirming the lower courts has any relevance is a lie.

The number you are looking for, for the same stament, would be "33% of President Bush's Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals nominees have been filibustered." If you are trying to put a positive spin on it, you might say "We have already approved 22 judges! Why can't you be happy with that? That's 67%!"

Now that we're done with that, the issue at hand.

Jet asks a good question. Is it about faith/conservative Christians? He says only four are opposed for abortion reasons. So I did some research, which sucks on dial-up.

11 judges have been filibustered successfully (don't forget Estrada, Pickering and Kuhl). Ten are opposed by NARAL, Planned Parenthood, or both. Haynes, Griffith and Myers are the only ones not opposed by an abortiona advocacy group, at least according to Dr. Forbush's source, "saveourcourts.com".

That's 8 of 11. Apparently, it is about faith - the faith of conservative Chrisitians, not Cafeteria Catholics like Kerry and Kennedy.

Posted by: Hammertime | Apr 29, 2005 2:34:16 PM

Obviously I mistyped above. Eight are opposed by abortion advocacy groups, not ten. Darn engineering math...

Posted by: Hammertime | Apr 29, 2005 2:36:36 PM


You make one logical misstep: How does opposition by an abortion advocacy group suddenly lead to the conclusion that the debate is about faith. That would be like saying that George W Bush doesn't like John Kerry so he doesn't like Catholics. Abortion advocacy groups don't like activist conservative nominees, it doesn't mean that if they also happen to be Christians they don't like Christians.

Posted by: Dr. Forbush | Apr 29, 2005 2:52:22 PM


I agree to this extent, one needn't be a Christian, or even hold any faith, to be troubled by abortion on demand. One need only recognize the continuity between a fertilized ova and the beautiful bundly of joy that results after nine months of gestation. That takes no faith at all, just a willing blindness to the obvious.

Posted by: Craig R. Harmon | Apr 29, 2005 4:09:40 PM

er, "...the beautiful bundle of joy that results..."

Posted by: Craig R. Harmon | Apr 29, 2005 4:11:34 PM

Jeez...to ignore the continuity between a fertilized ova and the bundle of joy that results, in advocating for abortion on demand, just takes a willing blindness to the obvious.

Posted by: Craig R. Harmon | Apr 29, 2005 4:14:57 PM

Sometimes even I can't make heads or tails of what I'm trying to say.

Posted by: Craig R. Harmon | Apr 29, 2005 4:16:21 PM

I believe the main point of Matthew61's post was the implications of citing God for personal political gain is against the second commandment. Waging a was against a "preceived attack" as part of a deliberate political campaign is wrong from a Christian standpoint. This is the topic. If you have an opinion on that, please share it. If you are going to manipulate this post so you can beat the abortion horse, please refrain. This post is already about religious right manipulation. You are just proving his point.

Posted by: Jet | Apr 29, 2005 5:44:01 PM

Excellent point Jet, the conversation was going a bit off course...

Posted by: Dr. Forbush | Apr 29, 2005 7:23:39 PM

Yes, that was a great point Jet...

Posted by: sally | Apr 29, 2005 9:04:08 PM

Oh, well, my bad. I will point out, however, that I was seconding the point made by the good Doctor. I certainly don't want to manipulate anyone.

Sheesh. Is this your idea of free speech?

Posted by: Craig R. Harmon | Apr 29, 2005 11:13:28 PM

After thorough consideration, I wish to withdraw my offending comment.

Posted by: Craig R. Harmon | Apr 30, 2005 12:42:10 AM

I appreciate your retraction. I think, with your background as a minister, you could offer an informed opinion regarding this topic. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Posted by: Jet | Apr 30, 2005 1:03:20 AM

Excellent post. In addition to the Second Commandment, there's a line in the Bible (I don't know the wording) about worshipping God privately, discreetly; not making a public display of it. That's a far cry from these huge "religious" media events staged by the Christian Right.

Posted by: tomharper | Apr 30, 2005 6:27:12 PM


I'm not sure if this is what you mean.

Matthew 6:5-6: 5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

There is a problem, though, in just what he meant. It is unlikely that he meant that one must never participate in worship or prayer in the presence of other people since he joined his fellow Jews on every Sabbath to worship and pray together.

When he speaks of those who "love to stand in the synagogues...that they may be seen of men", there is again a question of interpretation. It seems to me that the focus of the prohibition is on the "being seen of men" rather than the standing. That is because, every week in the synagogue the chosen leader stood before all and led in reading and interpreting the Scripture. I don't think he was rejecting this practice, since he himself did this very thing on at least one occasion (Mark 6:2). I conclude that it is the desire to be seen and respected by men that is rejected here, not the standing or even the leading in corporate worship and prayer.

Nor does he object to proselytizing since he sent his disciples out to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God to the Jews (Matthew 10: 5f.) and then, after his resurrection, he sent them out into all the world (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20 and elsewhere).

Certainly the huge "religious" media events, in so far as they are worship/prayer, fall into the category of the corporate type rather than the personal type. In so far as they are about proclaiming the Gospel, they are engaged in an activity that is explicitly commanded by Jesus. I will not venture to guess, in the absence of evidence, what Jesus would think of television, per se, but televised worship can reasonably be seen as simply an extension of public worship for the benefit of anyone who wants to "participate" even if they are unable to be there in person. Of course, like Church attendence, television viewing is purely optional. If you don't like it, don't watch it. Televised evangelism can be reasonably seen as an attempt at fulfilling Jesus' command. I'm doubt, therefore, that either of these activities fall under the proscription to which you refer.

On the other hand, when the Gospels report that, outside of corporate worship, when Jesus prayed, he went apart to be by himself to pray so it seems clear to me that what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 6 above was personal prayer and not corporate prayer.

The nexus of Christians and the political process, and I would place the "Justice Sunday" under that category, Jesus expected his followers to obey the Government to the extent that they could do so without disobeying God (Matthew 15:22) but what relationship that expectation has to actual participation in political process is less clear. After all, while the Romans largely allowed the Jews to administer their own affairs, participation by Rome's subjects in the Roman political process amounted to paying taxes and being slaves, in short, they didn't participate in any active way. I don't believe that anything that Jesus said or did can be directly translated into the answer to the question, "What would Jesus think of events like 'Justice Sunday'?" I don't believe that the proscription that you mention can be used to condemn such things.

Finally, I fully realize that not every one here reveres Jesus or the Bible. I adduce them here simply to show how Christians might reasonably conclude that 'huge "religious" media events' are Biblical and would meet with Jesus' approval. No proselytizing intended.

Posted by: Craig R. Harmon | Apr 30, 2005 8:57:11 PM

As for the Second Commandment. If it were true that the threatened filibuster is an attempt to block certain judges because of the religious beliefs of those judges, then it could hardly be breaking the Second Commandment to say so. For reasons that have been raised here, though, I do believe that some of the statements made by Dobson and others have gone beyond what has been proven to be true.

Posted by: Craig R. Harmon | Apr 30, 2005 9:10:47 PM

To clarify:

1 - Post is declaring that RR is breaking second amendment by using God's name innappropriately. Jet uses info about how "only four" are opposed for abortion. Six of the ten judicial nominees are being fought against due to their extreme judgments on property rights. Hardly an issue designed to fire up the radical religious right, so abortion is all you are hearing about.

2 - Hammertime debunks info about "only four."

I'm not sure how I was off topic.

However, the post has progressed past that point now, and is better off for it. I've got nothing worthwhile to add here (do I ever? Nevermind, don't answer that.)

Posted by: Hammertime | Apr 30, 2005 11:51:07 PM

Very well written argument. I think the fear of a theocracy is a little paranoid and premature, but you make quite a few good points. The far left do have an agenda however, and Christianity is under attack...I don't neccesarilly think it is by the majority of democrats in the senate however, but more so by organizations such as the ACLU, and United For Seperation of Church and State. No one wants a theocracy, not even those on the right. Again, you make a good argument here, I must give credit where it is due. You've done your research. I would suggest that you provide sources where we can see the 5 % you claim.

Posted by: Jay | May 1, 2005 1:23:20 PM

Jay's screed about the ACLU allegedly being anti-Christian has been debunked. But, he doesn't care.

"No one wants a theocracy, not even those on the right"? I don't buy that. Not for a second. I would buy the argument that a great many on the right don't want a theocracy. But, I have zero doubt that some on the right very much want a theocracy. Oh sure... they'd dress it up as a democracy of some sort. But, that would just be window dressing. And I say that as someone who was raised an evangelical and who used to be a conservative Republican.

Posted by: Kevin | May 1, 2005 1:40:30 PM

Okay, Kevin, suppose we concede that some on the right want a theocracy. What do you suppose 'some' on the right are going to accomplish in bringing a theocracy about. The left would not have it at all. None but a few on the right would have it. Those who want it don't stand a chance...those who don't want it are smart enough to make sure it doesn't happen.

As for the ACLU, it is true that they have taken positions in support of some Christians where those Christians' rights were endangered. It is also true that the ACLU has instigated many more actions against Christians than they have in defense of Christians. It is not hard to understand why Christians might feel put upon by the ACLU.

Posted by: Craig R. Harmon | May 1, 2005 3:20:42 PM

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