The battle of Justice Sunday II promises to be a pivotal moment in the struggle over the federal judiciary that will set the agenda of the nation for generations. The effort is to energize conservative Christians in support of president Bush’s judicial nominees. But progressive religious leaders of many faiths are speaking out against the Christian Right’s rally for religious supremacy this Sunday, and the battle is likely to escalate before and after the event.
Focus on the Family is countering with pre-rally interviews with the speakers, and the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the largest religious broadcaster in the U.S., announced today that TBN will broadcast a tape delay of the rally at 10pm EST on Sunday.
And in recognition of the importance of bloggers, the Family Research Council is paying to import a number of unnamed bloggers to Nashville to generate post event buzz. Uninvited is progressive blogger and UCC seminarian Chuck Currie who charges that the leaders of Justice Sunday, are attempting to “equate Christianity with support of conservative judicial nominees.”
Meanwhile, progressive religious leaders held a national teleconference with reporters today. Their entire statements and the audiofeed are available at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Here are some quotes:
“It is damaging to the legitimacy of the confirmation process to suggest that the necessary and comprehensive examination of a nominee’s record, as well as support for or opposition to a nominee is in any way religiously motivated.” — Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches USA
“The judiciary has long upheld the Constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion and separation of church and state that make our nation the most religiously diverse and robust democratic country in the world. It is troubling when people of faith are calling for the courts themselves to break down the wall separating church and state that has protected the right to freely exercise their beliefs.” — Ms. Mirin Kaur Phool, President, Board of Directors, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
“People are [asking] a diverse array of questions pertaining to Judge Roberts’ broader judicial philosophy and constitutional interpretation as well as more detailed queries regarding his interpretation of privacy and the establishment clause. What all of these questions do have in common is that they deserve to be answered.” — Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
“No person or group can honestly claim to represent ‘the’ single authentic faith perspective on a given issue. Americans of faith and good will differ on the issues facing our country today, but those differences should never be cause for questioning another’s faith or patriotism.” — Rev. Bill Sinkford, President, Unitarian Universalist Association
Meanwhile, Focus on the Family’s political magazine Citizen Link is conducting a series of interviews with rally speakers in advance of the event.
Phyllis Schlafly, head of Eagle Forum, claims in her interview that “the Supreme Court is demonstrating hostility to religion,” and she will urge “Congress to act on its Article III power to take away jurisdiction from the court on those areas where we don’t trust them — starting with the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments, the definition of marriage and the Boy Scouts.”
Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Bowie, MD, invokes the bogus ideology of Christian nationalism to explain his involvement in Justice Sunday: “America will either remain a Christian nation protected by laws based on morality or it will become more morally lawless than every before…. The Supreme Court is the front line of the spiritual battle for the culture.” Regarding his message to viewers on Sunday, Jackson said: “I will call upon the two sleeping giants of America’s culture–the black church and the white church–to move from individual impact to combined significance.”
For a discussion of the views of rally organizers James Dobson and Tony Perkins, see my post, Focus on Dobson & Perkins:
“James Dobson the founder and caudillo of Focus on the Family…. who may be the most powerful Christian Right leader in the country, routinely uses his national radio broadcasts to demagogue his concerns about what he calls the “unelected and unaccountable and arrogant and imperious” judiciary. He claims judges are “determined to redesign the culture according to their own biases and values, and they’re out of control….”
“Dobson could more accurately say these things about himself: he is unelected and far less accountable for his words and actions than judges at any level.”