Church & State, Feb 2001 v54 i2 p23
The Gospel Of John: Why Ashcroft Shouldn't Be Attorney General.
Barry W. Lynn.
I don't agree with Jerry Falwell very often. However, I concurred with his view the other night on "The Edge with Paula
Zahn" on the Fox News Channel that Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft is a man of deep religious conviction. That's where
the agreement ended, though.
Indeed, it is the very fact of Ashcroft's clear commitment to his understanding of God's will that makes it impossible
for him to enforce laws with which he disagrees. In his commencement address to Bob Jones University in 1999, he did not merely
say that the American colonists used the phrase "No king but Jesus." He did not merely say that he personally believes that
Jesus is king of his life.
Rather, Ashcroft said, "If America is to be great in the future, it will be if we understand that our source is not civic
and temporal, but our source is godly and eternal." That is a contemporaneous statement of belief that the ultimate authority
is God's will. ...
Ashcroft cannot turn off a theological belief system that he has said has led him during his Senate career to "only legislate
morality" and that he has said should lead governments "closer to God's heart." This is true even if he wants a job in the
cabinet. He cannot serve both God as he understands God and the laws of man that seem far removed from God's heart as he hears
Ashcroft also seems to have serious lapses in judgment rind integrity. Again, at the Bob Jones University commencement,
he did not merely thank the university for its approval of his work, he said: "I thank God for this institution." He may offer
thanks for anything, but it is astonishing that he would implicate God in creating an institution that has promoted both racial
discrimination and religious bigotry against, among others, Mormons and Catholics. If God is OK with intolerance, why should
we expect the attorney general to care much about those pesky laws that try to eliminate such bias? ...
Similarly, Ashcroft has condemned homosexuality as a sin. People in this country have a right to believe this, but Ashcroft
has a history of basing public policy on his personal religious beliefs about gay people. He opposed an effort to extend employment
discrimination protections to gay people, apparently reasoning that this particular "sin" could serve not only as a potential
disqualification for getting into Heaven, but for working at the local factory as well. ...
Ashcroft's views mirror his most extreme supporters among the Religious Right. Indeed, his contempt for the very legal
system before which he and his solicitor general and United States Attorneys will practice is couched in nearly apocalyptic
religious terms. Ashcroft told the Christian Coalition in 1998, "A robed elite have taken the wall of separation ... and have
made it a wall of religious oppression." ...
As I write this, there has been no vote on his nomination and no one is quite sure how this will turn out. But I have heard
Ashcroft say repeatedly during his confirmation hearing that he would not let his religious views impede his enforcement of
laws. I repeat: when you see the world as Ashcroft does, serving "God and Mammon" in this role is simply impossible.
Barry W. Lynn is executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
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Americans United for Separation of Church and State
AMERICANS UNITED ANNOUNCES OPPOSITION TO NOMINATION OF SEN. JOHN ASHCROFT AS
Nomination A Sop To The Religious Right, Group Says
Americans United for
Separation of Church and State today announced its opposition to President-elect George W. Bush's nomination of Sen. John
Ashcroft (R-Mo.) as attorney general.
According to Americans
United, Ashcroft's votes in the Senate and his public statements on civil liberties issues indicate little appreciation for
the constitutional principle of church-state separation.
"In the Senate, Ashcroft
was the principle architect of 'charitable choice,' a dangerous boondoggle that undermines church-state separation by funneling
millions in taxpayer dollars into the coffers of churches and other sectarian groups," said Barry W. Lynn, executive director
of Americans United. "He appears to have no use for church-state separation."
Lynn noted that Ashcroft
also has close ties to TV preacher Pat Robertson. In 1998, Ashcroft addressed a gathering of Robertson's Christian Coalition,
where he blasted church-state separation.
Charged Ashcroft, "A
robed elite have taken the wall of separation designed to protect the church and they have made it a wall of religious oppression.
At the same gathering, Ashcroft staffers handed out material noting the senator's total opposition to abortion, his support
for defunding the National Endowment for the Arts and his hostility toward "globalist institutions like the United Nations."