This post has been updated
Interfaith religious leaders held a teleconference today condemning the “Justice Sunday II: God save the United States and this Honorable Court” event scheduled by leading groups of the religious right for Aug. 14th. The first "Justice Sunday" event was held this spring.
The event is being held with a stated goal of equating support for conservative judicial nominees with Christianity. The Interfaith Alliance released a statement last month when Justice Sunday II was announced that read in part:
Washington, July 14 – Today, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of The Interfaith Alliance, responded to the announcement that leaders of the religious right will host – in a church -- another simulcast television program, "Justice Sunday II.”
“Here we go again!” Rev. Gaddy said. “And, this time the imagery and the implications of the message advanced by leaders of the religious right are more offensive, sacrilegious, and undemocratic than those so integral to Justice Sunday I.
“Right now, the most serious threats to the fundamental rights and liberties in our nation are not coming from a lack of God’s interest but from a small group of religious right leaders who have assumed the mantle of national religious authorities and seek to impose on the whole nation and its constitution their particular views on religion, the courts, politics, and justice.
“One can only wonder about the sincerity of the prayerful plea, “God save the United States and this Honorable Court” when members of the religious right have disparaged certain members of the Supreme Court and some even have prayed for the demise of these members.
“There is no confusion, only manipulation—a manipulation of the holy name of God and a manipulation of the United States Constitution—in the implicit suggestion that only a Supreme Court nominee who wins the approval of the religious right is a suitable, God-endorsed candidate for the highest court in our nation.
Speakers on the teleconference included representatives from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, National Council of Churches USA, Unitarian-Universalist Association, The Interfaith Alliance, and the Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund. You can listen to the teleconference and read all the statements made by clicking here.
The Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, said on the teleconference:
In an action alert last week the FRC (Family Research Council) claimed a, “leading role in stopping the several-year campaign of some Senate Democrats to cleanse the federal judiciary of people of strong religious faith.” This claim is unsubstantiated and wrong. There are, to be sure, Members of Congress from across the political spectrum who are people of “strong religious faith.” Similarly, the FRC’s statement suggests that opposition to a nominee may stem only from anti-religious sentiments. 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.
Jesus summed up “strong religious faith” this way: Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. All scripture is just commentary on that.
It’s hard to think of a member of the House, Senate or judiciary, regardless of political philosophy, who does not believe that in some way – either as an article of faith or a matter of personal commitment. It is entirely inappropriate to assume that a person’s ideology is a barometer of personal faith.
U.S. Rep. Tom Delay, the Republican Majority Leader who made statements after the death of Terri Schiavo threatening federal judges, will be a keynote speaker at the event.
The event is a gross misuse of the Christian faith for partisan political purposes and as such should be condemned by all Christians and people of faith despite party affiliation or ideology.
Update: Click here to read bios on all the "Justice Sunday" speakers (thanks to People for the American Way)
Related Link: Battle of Justice Sunday Heats Up (Frederick Clarkson)
Related Link: Focus on Dobson & Perkins (Frederick Clarkson)
Related Link: What Kind of "Justice" to Expect on Sunday (People for the American Way)