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Keep God out of politics

Fri, Apr 29th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

When I was a high schooler in the 60s playing basketball for a Catholic school it was quite common to step up to the free-throw line, make the sign of the cross and let fly. Of course, if you missed the shot it was also quite common to utter an oath whose words were easily detectable by church-goers to qualify as a venal sin - as in taking the name of the lord in vain.

The good priest at our school made a locker room visit about mid-season. His speech was short but effective:

Now boys, I am proud that so many of you are willing to show your faith in God at the free-throw line, but if I catch one more of you cussing after you miss, there will be hell to pay.

His message was clear - Gods not really concerned about whether you make the shot or not, Hes got bigger fish to fry. Keep God out of sports.

The same is true of politics. I was reminded of this watching Senate leader Bill Frist pander to conservative Christians the other night, whining on about how those democrats are discriminating against faith-based people.

Frist wants to end the filibuster, which is about the only method left for a minority party to delay approval of questionable judges. Its a practice used quite efficiently by both parties over the years - by Republicans to stop extreme liberal appointments and by Democrats to stop ultra-conservative judges being voted on.

Frists telecast, named Justice Sunday, was beamed into one of those super-churches in Louisville and elsewhere in an effort to garner conservative Christian support to end the filibuster.

Critics have been rightfully taking Frist to task, some calling his telecast a declaration of religious war, and by others an effort to hijack religion.

Standing right along side Frist were those great American constitutionalists the Family Research Council and the Focus on the Family, ready to spread their brand of religious terror on the rest of us. If youre not with us then you must be against us people of faith.

Instead of keeping God out of politics, Frist has chosen to bait these fundamentalists to do his bidding.

If Frists efforts to bring religion into politics werent enough, there is good old Texan Tom DeLay, the yellow underbelly of the Republican party, threatening to punish judges whose rulings are out of line, as in the Terri Schiavo case.

Havent we had enough of this? From priests and bishops saying that elected officials who dont vote against abortion shouldnt get communion to Baptists telling us which judges pass muster.

Maybe its time for the Justice Department to start investigating a few of these churches who seem so willing to tell us what our politics should be. Start with the Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, the scene of last Sundays Frist-fest.

If you want to guarantee freedom of religion for all, keep God out of politics. And if our Congressional leadership isnt capable of doing this, then perhaps we need new leaders.

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