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Americans United for Separation of Church and State has audiotape of top Republican leaders promising to support the agenda of the Christian Right. The tapes, made at a closed door “Washington Briefing,” sponsored by the Family Research Council at the Willard Hotel, in Washington, D.C., March 17-19, 2005 — are making big news.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) is heard on the tapes comparing criticism of his ethics with the situation of Terri Schiavo, according to the Associated Press. “One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo to elevate the visibility of what is going on in America, that Americans would be so barbaric as to pull a feeding tube out of a person that is lucid and starve them to death,” he said in remarks Friday to a conservative group and made public Wednesday.

“This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others,” added DeLay, lately at the center of a controversy concerning his overseas travel.”

The AP story also quotes DeLay as saying: “The point is the other side has figured out how to win and defeat the conservative movement,” he said after mentioning Schiavo, “and that is to go after people personally, charge them with frivolous charges and link that up with all these do-gooder organizations funded by [liberal billionaire] George Soros and then get the national media on their side.”

“That whole syndicate that they have going on right now is for one purpose and one purpose only, and that’s to destroy the conservative movement. It’s to destroy conservative leaders.”
In a press release about the tapes, Americans United reports that DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) “assured attendees that they would do what it takes to keep Schiavo connected to a feeding tube and also would exert great power to push a whole host of issues central to the Religious Right’s agenda.”

DeLay urged the gathering to contact lawmakers in both chambers to support legislation that would allow churches to become much more involved in partisan politicking.  The Texas Republican blasted current federal tax law, which bars both secular and religious nonprofit groups from endorsing political candidates.
“It forces Christians back into the church and that’s what is going on,” DeLay claimed. “That’s not what Christ asked us to do. We have to fight back.”
FRC President Tony Perkins assured DeLay of the group’s support and asked audience members to contact Republican lawmakers and demand that they back the House majority leader.
Frist also told the FRC attendees that he was dedicated to issues dear to their hearts.
“You stand up for our families, our children, you never back down,” Frist told the gathering via speakerphone. “That’s why we are winning these larger battles today. Together we are leading our nation forward. We have a president, a House of Representatives, a Senate that shares our values and the American people are on our side.
“In this Congress we are going to continue to work on the issues that are important to you, to me and above all, America’s future,” Frist continued.
Those issues include, Frist maintained, the confirmation of “good judges,” protecting the “sanctity of marriage” and protecting “the unborn.” He said, “I’m also committed to ending the [Senate Democratic] minority’s filibuster [on judges] and restoring this 220 years or more of Senate tradition and history.”
Frist was particularly adamant about fighting for a Federal Marriage Amendment, saying that, “We will take action to preserve and protect and defend the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.”
“Religious Right leaders are determined to run all of our lives, from the moment of conception through the end of life,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “And top congressional leaders are conspiring behind closed doors in Washington to help them do it. It’s appalling.”

The GOP may have miscalculated and blown thier historic opportunity. Iraq is a disaster. The economy is tanking. Bush’s Social Security plan is a non-starter. The public is unimpressed with Congressional interference in the Schiavo case and the apparent corruption of DeLay and his cronies.

How desperate must House Speaker Tom DeLay be to compare himself to Terri Schiavo?

(Thanks to Bruce Prescott for flagging the story.)

 [Crossposted from FrederickClarkson.com]

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