Justice Sunday II was held today in Nashville with charges shouted about that the federal courts represented a threat against the American people with so-called liberal activist judges working to tear apart the basic fabric of our society. The event was organized by leading religious right groups critical of federal courts.
Speaker after speaker told the audience in Nashville (and on television, radio and the web) that enemies of Christianity are at work in America to oppose religious values.
Tony Perkins, the religious-right activist who heads the Family Research Council - and who in his own political activities maintained ties with David Duke and other white supremacists - claimed that the courts had found “a right to kill unborn children and a right to homosexual sodomy,” but at the same time had limited religious rights and even “taken away the right for children to pray.”
The vision that Perkins articulated is far from the Kingdom of God. Perkins and his allies preach hate and fear when the Gospel calls for love and justice. He doesn't even bother with the truth. Children have not been told they can't pray in America. In fact, I led children in prayer just this morning and no government agent came to stop me.
Opposing rights for gays and lesbians was equated time and time again with real Christianity (Related Post: Homosexuality and the Bible). Pro-choice Americans were compared with murderers (Related Post: Can Christians Be Pro-Choice? Yes).
Tom Delay, the US House Republican Majority, was one of the keynote speakers. He spoke out against what he called the overreaching judicial activism of the courts whom he said “bypass the democratic process” when expanding rights for women, gays and others by interpreting the Constitution. (Related Post: Do Tom DeLay and John Cornyn Hate Democracy?)
Defeated Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork made several cameo appearances via video in which he charged that six members of the current Supreme Court “feel free to make up” law without regard to the Constitution. “The courts have come to reflect the cultural views of elites,” said Bork. Bork defined cultural elites as those in universities and Hollywood.
Convicted Watergate figure Chuck Colson praised Tom DeLay’s Christian faith and then preached that Christianity is about a Biblical world view that was particularly concerned about justice and even quoted from chapter five of the prophet Amos:
18Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord! Why do you want the day of the Lord? It is darkness, not light; 19 as if someone fled from a lion, and was met by a bear; or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall, and was bitten by a snake. 20Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? 21I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 22Even though you offer me your burnt-offerings and grain-offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. 23Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. 24But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
He claimed that this passage – one often quoted by The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. – spoke to the same concerns of justice being advocated by the religious right (though he used a translation different from mine).
We know nothing could be further from the truth.
The judges and judicial philosophy supported by the religious right – not to mention their leaders – are opponents of basic justice. Most of these same people fought against the civil rights movement and their claim today to be carrying on the tradition of King was simply sickening.
William Donahue, the leader of the radical Catholic League who recently said Jews who hate Jesus control Hollywood, called for a Constitutional amendment that would require a unanimous vote of the Supreme Court to overturn any decision of Congress. He spoke wildly against civil rights for gays and lesbians. (Related Post: Far Right-Wing Catholic League Calls My Site Anti-Catholic)
Former Georgia Senator Zell Miller spoke next and endorsed Donahue’s views. “The Supreme Court has been handing down decisions that people of faith simply can not accept,” said Miller. “It will even put you in jail if you dare to put up a copy of the 10 commandments in a public place.” Miller told the crowd that hostile enemies of religion were trying to impose their will through judicial decisions.
Phyllis Schlafly, well known in the 70s and 80s for opposing the Equal Rights Amendments and gay rights, said that “biggest threat to America” is liberal judges whom she calls supremacists. She quoted several decisions from Clinton appointees to the courts expanding rights for gays and lesbians as evidence of what she clearly views as the malicious intent of judges to impose their will on America.
Cathy Cleaver Ruse of the Family Research Council told the audience that one of the biggest issues facing the court was the upcoming case on Oregon’s assisted suicide law. She called on the courts to outlaw Oregon’s program. It was an ironic moment. All of the speakers during the evening had been critical of the courts overriding state decisions on gay marriage and other issues. Oregon voters twice endorsed assisted suicide. What the religious right really wants became clear in her presentation: They want the courts to be activists – but just on the issues they support. (Related Post: Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act: One Christian Perspective)
The pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church – which hosted the event – concluded the evening by declaring that “liberalism is dead’ and directly attacking the Democratic Party. It was a highly partisan moment that should warrant an IRS investigation into the church’s political activities.
Justice Sunday II – like the first Justice Sunday – was a gross misappropriation of the Christian faith for a partisan political agenda.
What is even worse is that they used the Gospel teachings to preach a message of hate and intolerance. This group of people has no shame.
Many Christian and other interfaith leaders spoke out against the event. (Related Post: Justice Sunday II: Religious Leaders Condemn Attempt By The Religious Right To Equate Christianity With Support Of Conservative Judicial Nominees)