Andrew Sullivan

  1. "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute -- where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote -- where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference ... I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish -- where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source -- where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials." - president John F. Kennedy. At the time, the speech was regarded as an attempt to refute anti-Catholic prejudice. Today, wouldn't the theocons regard it as an expression of anti-Catholic prejudice? Wouldn't Bill Frist see president Kennedy as an enemy of "people of faith"? Just asking.

    -- Andrew Sullivan, conservative blogger
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  2. 45 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    Frightening.
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...la-home-nation

    THE NATION
    2 Evangelicals Want to Strip Courts' Funds
    Taped at a private conference, the leaders outline ways to punish jurists they oppose
    By Peter Wallsten, Times Staff Writer

    WASHINGTON-Evangelical Christian leaders, who have been working closely with senior Republican lawmakers to place conservative judges in the federal courts, have also been exploring ways to punish sitting jurists and even entire courts viewed as hostile to their cause.


    An audio recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times features two of the nation's most influential evangelical leaders, at a private conference with supporters, laying out strategies to rein in judges, such as stripping funding from their courts in an effort to hinder their work.

    The discussion took place during a Washington conference last month that included addresses by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who discussed efforts to bring a more conservative cast to the courts.

    Frist and DeLay have not publicly endorsed the evangelical groups' proposed actions. But the taped discussion among evangelical leaders provides a glimpse of the road map they are drafting as they work with congressional Republicans to achieve a judiciary that sides with them on abortion, same-sex marriage and other elements of their agenda.

    "There's more than one way to skin a cat, and there's more than one way to take a black robe off the bench," said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, according to an audiotape of a March 17 session. The tape was provided to The Times by the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

    DeLay has spoken generally about one of the ideas the leaders discussed in greater detail: using legislative tactics to withhold money from courts.

    "We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse," DeLay said at an April 13 question-and-answer session with reporters.

    The leaders present at the March conference, including Perkins and James C. Dobson, founder of the influential group Focus on the Family, have been working with Frist to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominations, a legislative tool that has allowed Senate Democrats to stall 10 of President Bush's nominations. Frist is scheduled to appear, via a taped statement, during a satellite broadcast to churches nationwide Sunday that the Family Research Council has organized to build support for the Bush nominees.

    The March conference featuring Dobson and Perkins showed that the evangelical leaders, in addition to working to place conservative nominees on the bench, have been trying to find ways to remove certain judges.

    Perkins said that he had attended a meeting with congressional leaders a week earlier where the strategy of stripping funding from certain courts was "prominently" discussed. "What they're thinking of is not only the fact of just making these courts go away and re-creating them the next day but also defunding them," Perkins said.

    He said that instead of undertaking the long process of trying to impeach judges, Congress could use its appropriations authority to "just take away the bench, all of his staff, and he's just sitting out there with nothing to do."

    These curbs on courts are "on the radar screen, especially of conservatives here in Congress," he said.

    Dobson, who emerged last year as one of the evangelical movement's most important political leaders, named one potential target: the California-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    "Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court," Dobson said. "They don't have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through that battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn't exist anymore, and it's gone."

    Robert Stevenson, a spokesman for Frist, said Thursday that the Senate leader does not agree with the idea of defunding courts or shutting them down, pointing to Frist's comments earlier this month embracing a "fair and independent judiciary." A spokesman for DeLay declined to comment.

    The remarks by Perkins and Dobson drew fire from Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who charged that the two leaders were more brazen in such private encounters with supporters than their more genteel public images portray.

    "To talk about defunding judges is just about the most bizarre, radical approach to controlling the outcome of court decisions that you can imagine," Lynn said.

    Frist is expected to try as early as next week to push the Senate to ban filibusters on judicial nominations-a move so explosive that Democrats are calling it the "nuclear option."

    Democrats have been using the filibuster to block 10 of Bush's appeals court nominees who they believe are too extreme in their views, but the skirmishes are considered a preview of a highly anticipated fight over replacing the ailing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, whose retirement is considered imminent.

    "Folks, I am telling you all that it is going to be the mother of all battles," Dobson predicted at the March 17 meeting. "And it's right around the corner. I mean, Justice Rehnquist could resign at any time, and the other side is mobilized to the teeth."

    The remarks by Perkins and Dobson reflect the passion felt by Christians who helped fuel Bush's reelection last year with massive turnout in battleground states, and who also spurred Republican gains in the Senate and House.

    Claiming a role by the movement in the GOP gains, Dobson concluded: "We've got a right to hold them accountable for what happens here."

    Both leaders chastised what Perkins termed "squishy" and "weak" Republican senators who have not wholeheartedly endorsed ending Democrats' power to filibuster judicial nominees. They said these included moderates such as Sens. Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. They also grumbled that Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and George Allen of Virginia needed prodding.

    "We need to shake these guys up," Perkins said.

    Said Dobson: "Sometimes it's just amazing to me that they seem to forget how they got here."

    Even Bush was not spared criticism. Dobson and Perkins encouraged their supporters to demand that the president act as aggressively on the judiciary as he has for his Social Security overhaul.

    "These are not Bill Frist's nominees; these are President George W. Bush's nominees," Perkins said. "He needs to be out there putting pressure on these senators who are weak on this issue and standing in obstruction to these nominations," he said.

    Dobson chided Frist, a likely 2008 presidential contender, for not acting sooner on the filibuster issue, urging "conservatives all over the country" to tell Frist "that he needs to get on with it."

    Dobson also said Republicans risked inflicting long-term damage on their party if they failed to seize the moment-a time when Bush still has the momentum of his reelection victory-to transform the courts. He said they had just 18 months to act before Bush becomes a "lame-duck president."

    "If we let that 18 months get away from us and then maybe we got Hillary to deal with or who knows what, we absolutely will not recover from that," he said.

    Perkins and Dobson laid out a history of court rulings they found offensive, singling out the recent finding by the Supreme Court that executing minors was unconstitutional. They criticized Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's majority opinion, noting that the Republican appointee had cited the laws of foreign nations that, Dobson said, applied the same standard as "the most liberal countries in Europe."

    "What about Latin America, South America, Central America? What about China? What about Africa?" Dobson asked. "They pick and choose the international law that they want and then apply it here as though we're somehow accountable to Europe. I resent that greatly."

    DeLay has also criticized Kennedy for citing foreign laws in that opinion, calling the practice "outrageous."

    As part of the discussion, Perkins and Dobson referred to remarks by Dobson earlier this year at a congressional dinner in which he singled out the use by one group of the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants in a video that Dobson said promoted a homosexual agenda.

    Dobson was ridiculed for his comments, which some critics interpreted to mean the evangelist had determined that the cartoon character was gay.

    Dobson said the beating he took in the media, coming after his appearance on the cover of newsmagazines hailing his prominence in Bush's reelection, proved that the press will only seek to tear him down.

    "This will not be the last thing that you read about that makes me look ridiculous," he said
  4. by   SmilingBluEyes
    These are dangerous politicians. The fact they TOUT their so-called "Christian beliefs", to me, evil. Their wish for somewhat total control of our government, is at best, intolerant, at worst, frightening, as Spacenurse put it.
  5. by   URO-RN
    [font=times new roman, times, serif]theophobia part one
    [font=times new roman, times, serif]http://www.intellectualconservative....ticle4081.html
    [font=times new roman, times, serif]by michael p. tremoglie
    [font=times new roman, times, serif]10 january 2005

    [font=times new roman, times, serif][color=#8080c0]first in a series concerning the campaign to remove religion from american society.



    [font=arial,verdana,helvetica][font=times new roman, times, serif]just as the civil rights of racial and religious minorities, women, and the poor were the defining legal issues for american government in the 20th century, among the defining issues for the 21st century will be the rights of the unborn child, the rights of gun ownership, the rights of fathers -- and the ability to freely express religious beliefs.

    there is a continuing campaign by theophobes -- who either blatantly hate religion or who are opposed to public displays of religion -- to bowdlerize religion from american society. the most recent examples of this crusade are attempts to remove the word god from the pledge of allegiance, the ten commandments from being displayed at courthouses, and christmas from the lexicon of public school holidays.

    the advocates of this bowdlerization display a clever sophistry. they claim that by segregating religious expression from even the most remote link with government they are merely being faithful to the constitutional doctrine of separation of church and state. the theophobes routinely refer to a "separation between church and state" as if it were mentioned in the constitution.

    however, there is no mention of such a wall in the constitution. the phrase, "wall of separation between church and state," was used by thomas jefferson -- who was not involved with writing the constitution. jefferson wrote this in a letter to connecticut baptists while serving as president in 1802. how his personal correspondence became constitutional law is not known.


    [font=times new roman, times, serif]if jefferson's correspondence is a precept of constitution law then segregation should be constitutional as well. jefferson wrote in a letter to edward coles in 1814 that, "their (blacks) amalgamation with any other color produces a degradation to which no lover of his country ...can innocently consent." i do not think that anyone would consider this constitutional.

    the theophobic premise that jefferson's phrase is the same as constitutional law is a fallacy. although it must be said that jefferson's phrase was used by justice black in the 1947 supreme court case, everson v. board of education. justice black, who wrote the majority opinion, said, "the first amendment has erected a wall between church and state."

    ironically, the majority opinion in this case stated that it was legal to use taxes to provide transportation for students of religious schools. it did the exact opposite of what the theophobes want.

    what the theophobes do want is to dictate to the majority of americans -- who want references to god included in the public square -- that they cannot do so. the fact that a majority wants this is irrelevant to them. they will produce the old canard that the majority of americans once favored slavery. of course, they never provide proof that this is true. they never cite a source to say that the majority of americans once favored slavery.

    the "majority of americans once favored slavery" perfidy is used by the theophobes to prove that democracy is illegitimate. it is used by the intelligentsia to prove that -- as was once stated by an aclu attorney -- certain issues are too important to be determined by the electorate.

    the hypocrisy of those who favor the sagacity of the supreme court instead of the citizenry is exhibited by the fact that while theophobes say majority opinion is not good because they claim slavery was favored by the majority, they say the supreme court rulings are good because they protect the rights of the minority. however, they neglect to mention it was the supreme court that protected the existence of slavery.

    how do theophobes reconcile their adherence to the fallibility of the supreme court while eschewing majority rule? they cannot. the fact is theophobes are part of the liberal philosophy of vanguardism; the leninist philosophy of the wisdom of a few elites who can tell the masses what is best for them. they would rather have a government of a few who think their judgment is infallible.

    this is even more apparent in the second great fallacy of the theophobes. this specious argument states that an endorsement of religion is the same as an establishment. while the constitution only prohibits an establishment of religion, the supreme court has decreed a constitutional prohibition against the endorsement of religion.

    an example of endorsing religion would be a christmas tree in the quadrangle of the campus of a publicly funded university. the rationale for this is that the government is implicitly promoting the religion because it is a christmas tree. since public funds are used by the school, the public is funding a religion.

    this is the absurdity of the evolution of the interpretation of the first amendment. first, there is the prohibition of the federal government establishing a state religion -- most people concur with this. then there is the application of this prohibition to the states by the fourteenth amendment. next is not only forbidding an establishment of a religion, it is the banning of any reference to a religion by a display or expression on public property.

    what is next -- mentioning religion in a public building? thinking about religion?

    it is absurd to say that students cannot voluntarily engage in prayer. it is absolutely unconscionable that teachers are told that they cannot wear crucifixes while teaching in public schools. yet, this is the current state regarding government and religion.

    it is time for a change.
    [font=times new roman, times, serif]


  6. by   pickledpepperRN
    NO ONE can take away my right to my faith. It is part of who I am.

    The same bunch of fear mongers who talked about mushroom clouds, wanted us to get vaccinated for smallpox, and told the world SH had WMDs are trying to say that I can lose MY FAITH?

    I believe scaring good people of faith like this is the work of the devil.
    It is not about GOD!

    It is about judges and totsal power over good honest people.
    How is it conservative to fail to conserve Gods green earth?

    Oh sacred world, now wounded
    We pledge to make you free of hate
    of war
    of selfish cruelty

    And here in our small corner
    We plant a tiny seed
    And it will grow in beauty
    To shame the face of greed
  7. by   Spidey's mom
    Jo Anne - thanks. This kind of a discussion can quickly erode but I'm hopeful it won't. For the most part I love that we can all openly discuss our differences - and the truth is one side is not evil and the other good. We both have good points to make.

    I became a Christian when I was 28. Before I believed that there was "a" god . . . .I was raised in Christian churches but I had no real faith. I thought born-again folks were weird and unintelligent. Of course, I never ever made it a point to get to know anyone who was born-again. Well, except my grandma who recently died . . and she said things to me like "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free" when talking about chastity - I thought she was very old-fashioned and out of touch with real life . .. even though I loved her. Anyway - I guess my point would be that now that I'm a Christian, I have to wince when I hear how faith is characterized sometimes. I bears no resemblence to my faith or the faith of my husband and kids or my in-laws or the people I attend church with or my best friend.

    I wonder if all sides don't have immediate "knee-jerk" reactions to those of other beliefs.

    The fact that the phrase "separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution is well known.

    The fact that our country was founded on the principle that we should be free to choose and free to worship seems to get lost sometimes.

    This is a very interesting and controversial subject - I look forward to the comments of others.

    steph
  8. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from spacenurse
    no one can take away my right to my faith. it is part of who i am.

    spacenurse - i don't think the people you are fearing are trying to take away your right to faith - they are trying to protect it.

    the same bunch of fear mongers who talked about mushroom clouds, wanted us to get vaccinated for smallpox, and told the world sh had wmds are trying to say that i can lose my faith?

    i think you are talking about 3 different groups of people here . . . the people who feared mushroom clouds were the anti-war crowd

    i believe scaring good people of faith like this is the work of the devil.
    it is not about god!

    talking about restrictions on religious expression is not fearmongering - it is necessary to remember that our rights can be taken away and we should be talking about it.

    it is about judges and totsal power over good honest people.
    how is it conservative to fail to conserve gods green earth?

    saying conservatives don't want to conserve god's green earth is not fair.

    oh sacred world, now wounded
    we pledge to make you free of hate
    of war
    of selfish cruelty

    and here in our small corner
    we plant a tiny seed
    and it will grow in beauty
    to shame the face of greed
    spacenurse - i like this poem but in a way you are demonzing other people by ascribing them with hateful intent - isn't that against the pledge to make us free of hate? shouldn't we try to understand each other and not judge motives until we actually know the other person?

    steph
  9. by   pickledpepperRN
    Quote from stevielynn
    spacenurse - i like this poem but in a way you are demonzing other people by ascribing them with hateful intent - isn't that against the pledge to make us free of hate? shouldn't we try to understand each other and not judge motives until we actually know the other person?

    steph
    you are right.

    although i have no ill will for anyone and no right to judge after i have been lied to i cannot believe that person again.
    i am being told that theophobes want to dictate to the majority of americans. my faith is. no one can take it from me.

    who is trying to dictate? i think it is those who want to cut off funding for courts.

    you are right. i am as fallable as anyone. wish i could give pure love and be fair at all times. unfortunately i left out the nuances.
    when "clear skies" means more pollution i am a skeptic.
    sorry. this administration lied. i cannot trust them.
  10. by   Tweety
    You can label me a theophobe if you choose. Because that's exactly what I am.

    However, I'm not afraid of religion, it's their followers.

    This isn't exclusive to Christians, Muslem fundamentalists in America and around the world and in America frighten me as well.

    None of my fears are based on the faiths. As a homosexual who is public enemy #1 to the faithful families in America, I should be afriad, and I am.

    Tweety the Theophobe

    BTW, Andrew Sullivan is a homosexual fyi. And I am by no stretch of the imagaination a fan of his ordinarily.
    Last edit by Tweety on Apr 23, '05
  11. by   pickledpepperRN
    Quote from Tweety
    You can label me a theophobe if you choose. Because that's exactly what I am.

    However, I'm not afraid of religion, it's their followers.

    This isn't exclusive to Christians, Muslem fundamentalists in America and around the world and in America frighten me as well.

    None of my fears are based on the faiths. As a homosexual who is public enemy #1 to the faithful families in America, I should be afriad, and I am.

    Tweety the Theophobe

    BTW, Andrew Sullivan of the Nation, is a homosexual fyi
    Very true Tweety.
    You are right to be afraid.

    I am afraid of what will be done in the name of faith.
  12. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Quote from spacenurse
    NO ONE can take away my right to my faith. It is part of who I am.

    The same bunch of fear mongers who talked about mushroom clouds, wanted us to get vaccinated for smallpox, and told the world SH had WMDs are trying to say that I can lose MY FAITH?

    I believe scaring good people of faith like this is the work of the devil.
    It is not about GOD!

    It is about judges and totsal power over good honest people.
    How is it conservative to fail to conserve Gods green earth?

    Oh sacred world, now wounded
    We pledge to make you free of hate
    of war
    of selfish cruelty

    And here in our small corner
    We plant a tiny seed
    And it will grow in beauty
    To shame the face of greed
    THANK YOU!
  13. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Quote from Tweety
    You can label me a theophobe if you choose. Because that's exactly what I am.

    However, I'm not afraid of religion, it's their followers.

    This isn't exclusive to Christians, Muslem fundamentalists in America and around the world and in America frighten me as well.

    None of my fears are based on the faiths. As a homosexual who is public enemy #1 to the faithful families in America, I should be afriad, and I am.

    Tweety the Theophobe

    BTW, Andrew Sullivan is a homosexual fyi. And I am by no stretch of the imagaination a fan of his ordinarily.
    I agree.
  14. by   live4today
    oh sacred world, now wounded
    we pledge to make you free of hate
    of war
    of selfish cruelty

    and here in our small corner
    we plant a tiny seed
    and it will grow in beauty
    to shame the face of greed
    beautifully and truthfully portrayed. :hatparty:

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