"Face the Nation" transcript: April 8, 2012
CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN: Well, the greatest challenge is to-- is to-- in a way, it is the same as it was that first Easter Sunday morning, to try to show that God, religion, the church is on the side of life and light and freedom and hope. That is what-- that is the biggest challenge, that life giving, liberating, ennobling, uplifting message of-- of the Bible, of morality, of the church, of Jesus, that's-- that's our challenge, Bob, and in a world-- I mean you are on the frontlines, you got to report bad news all the time, most of the time we want to cry when we see the news, because there is so much darkness and tragedy and sadness, so the greatest challenge I got is try to preach the good news and try to show that the light and life and promise of The Gospel always trumps the bad news that we hear all the time. There is a great religious challenge.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Your Eminence, it is a pleasure to talk to you this morning.
CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN: Thank you, Bob, happy Easter-- happy Easter to you and our-- our audience today.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Thank you, Sir.
And we will be back in one minute with more on religion in America, stay with us.
BOB SCHIEFFER: When John Kennedy made that speech to the Baptist Convention in 1960 that we just talked about with Cardinal Dolan, that was not the end of it, the topic continued to generate controversy and a week before the election, Kennedy came on FACE THE NATION and talked about it some more. How even if America was overwhelmingly Catholic, he said, he would oppose making Catholicism the country's official state religion, as was the case in so many European countries. On this Easter Sunday, that is our FACE THE NATION flashback.
PRESIDENT JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY (recording): The Queen is the head of the Church of England as well as head of the state, or in some of the Scandinavian countries where the Lutheran Church is the official state church, but here in the United States, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Catholics, Jews, Presbyterians, Methodists, all of us happen to believe that we do not want an official state church. I would be opposed to it. If there were ninety-nine percent of the population were Catholics, I would still be opposed to it. I do not want civil power combined with religious power. Now, that's my view, and I don't-- some other view-- person holds a different view, or if some other Catholic in another country holds a different view, that's their right, but I want to make it clear that my-- I'm committed, as a matter of personal deep conviction, to this separation.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Kennedy went on to win that election, of course, but the conversation about the separation of church and state continues, and we will be talking about it some more on this Easter Sunday, with a panel of people who think about it a lot. Richard Land, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Ethnic Commission; Luis Cortes Junior, President of Esperanza, the largest faith-based evangelical network in the United States; Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and recently voted America's leading Pulpit Rabbi; Sally Quinn, founder and head of The Washington Post on Faith website; and Newsweek magazine's Andrew Sullivan who recently wrote that magazine's cover story, "Christianity in crisis." That's next. Stay with us.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Some of you are leaving us now. For those who're staying with us, we'll come back on page two with more on religion in America.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with our panel. Well let's start with you, Doctor Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. You heard Cardinal Dolan talk about the separation of church and state. Do you think there should be and where is the line?
RICHARD LAND (Southern Baptist Convention): Oh, absolutely. And-- and Baptists, that's our unique contribution to the-- to the Reformation is separation of church and state. Roger Williams said for any-- any human being to coercively interfere with another human being's relationship with his or her God is soul rape and we believe that. We believe absolutely in the separation of church and state to protect the church from the state. Roger Williams said that there needed to be a wall of separation between the wilderness of the state and the garden of the church to protect the garden of the church from the intrusion of the state. And I think that's the thing that has changed since 1960, is that in 1960, the concern was whether there was going to be an established church. I don't think anyone is concerned about an established church today, but there are many of us who are concerned about government intrusion on the free exercise of faith by people in-- in-- who have religious convictions, who run contrary to what the government wants them to do. And separation of church and state are separation of two institutions. It never was intended to mean the separation of religiously informed morality from public policy. My personal hero, Martin Luther King Junior was a Baptist preacher, and he said he was in that Birmingham Jail because he refused to obey an unjust law and it was an unjust law because it didn't qualify-- it didn't coincide with the moral law of God.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me go to Rabbi Wolpe, what's your idea of the separation, Rabbi?
RABBI DAVID WOLPE (Sinai Temple, Los Angeles): Well, I think that it is true that Jews have a certain perspective on this as minority traditions do because generally, when religion seeps into the public sphere it's not our own, and so the separation of church and state in part is a protection for minority traditions. Having said that, I think that everybody has to understand that if you believe that the creator of the universe or the animating spirit of the universe or however you conceive of God, wants you to do a certain thing, you can't segregate that inside your soul from your public pronouncements and your beliefs. The key separation comes when you have to make public policy and then you have to make arguments that are acceptable to all different traditions and no tradition. So the real separation is not in your conscience or your pronouncements or your beliefs, it is in the arguments that you have to make that will be acceptable to everyone else, nobody is allowed to say, my faith is the trump card, and, therefore, in public policy you have to do what I say, because this is what I believe.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Luis Cortes, Reverend Cortes, where do you see the line?
REVEREND LUIS CORTES, JUNIOR (President, Esperanza): Well, I believe the line needs to be in-- in a space that allows people to take their faith and put it into public sphere, and it doesn't mean that you will oppress other people with it or enforce other people with it, but people will be allowed to share it. So my concern is, in following with-- with Richard and the Rabbi, is that more and more we are being told that don't-- we are being told not to bring our faith into the public sphere, as if-- as if it was-- is a disqualifier for public discourse, which it isn't and it shouldn't be. So-- so my concern is that every year, as time goes by; the rights of the religious are being eroded under the guise of church and state.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Andrew Sullivan, you wrote this piece in Newsweek, an extraordinary piece--
ANDREW SULLIVAN (Newsweek): Thank you.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --called "Crisis in Christianity." What did you take away from what you just heard the Cardinal say?
ANDREW SULLIVAN: Well, I-- I my view is very similar to what Rabbi Wolpe has said, which is that I-- I think our ability to be reasonable in politics and faithful in religion and to keep those two things separate has atrophied to the great disadvantage of-- of religion, and what has happened since 1960 is that organized groups like Southern Baptist Council and other religious groups have, in fact, become self-consciously political, they have become fused with one political party, the Republican Party, a party who is-- now has a majority and defined by a particular religious faith, evangelicalism or far right Catholic hierarchy, and that is making many people feel that faith and Jesus is about politics and power and partisanship, in ways it's turning off an entire generation. The biggest growth in any belief sector in this country in the last ten years has been atheism and the younger generations who see these religious people wielding political power, endorsing essentially political candidates, and fusing themselves with one political party, and picking fights deliberately the Cardinal prepared for this fight with Obama on political grounds. They see and I think they are mudding the real radical truth of Jesus, which is that we will gain power by giving it up, that we do not seek in the public sphere to have any power but to be powerless and Jesus was absolutely apolitical, anti-political, given the chance to be political. He is only on The Cross, because he refused politics.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I am going let Doctor Land respond to that in a minute but I want to get around the table first. Sally, you have been monitoring this with your own faith, the blog and a page in the Western Post. Sum up what we just heard here and what this is all about.
SALLY QUINN (The Washington Post): I think that separation of church and state is in the eye of the beholder. And I think if you look at not only what is going on in politics, you will get Cardinal Dolan to say one thing about his view of separation in church and state and-- and we have several different views at this table. We say we have separation of church and state, and yet on our coins it says "In God We Trust." The Pledge of Allegiance is one nation under God. We have-- we have ministers and pastors and Senate chaplain who say prayers in the Senate. The-- the academies and military academies are very religious and have prayer groups and-- and sometimes mandatory prayer groups. And so those are all not separation of church and state, and yet everyone accepts them. So I think that what I have seen in the last five years and what I see every single day is that who-- whatever your point of view, you might-- I mean there are plenty of people, I don't know whether you all think that we are a Christian nation or not, there are plenty of people who are religious who would say this is a Christian nation. Other people will say, as Obama does, this is a nation for all faiths and no faith, so I think that when you talk about separation of church and state, you are not talking about one thing, you are talking about a lot of different attitudes and opinions.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we will continue this discussion when we come back.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with more of our panel. Andrew Sullivan said a couple of things that you might want to respond to.
RICHARD LAND: Yes. First of all, I don't-- I don't think we're a Christian nation. To me the idea of a Christian nation is odd, as an evangelical Christian because a country can't be redeemed. I think we're a country that was founded on Judeo-Christian values in an attempt to meld those with enlightenment ideas of self-government. And we have a nation that is based upon Judeo-Christian values but it's not a Christian nation. It shouldn't be a Christian nation. And-- and concerning what Andrew said, you know, most of the involvement of evangelicals in the public realm has been defensive, it wasn't offensive. We didn't make abortion on demand legal in every state in the country and strike down these laws against abortion in all fifty states. We didn't seek to erode the expression of the public square by people of faith, and the Republican Party is not the only party that tries to claim God for themselves. I was at the National Prayer Breakfast when President Obama said that God was for universal health care, and was for his program, and Nancy Pelosi said Jesus supported her program in the-- in the House, and Bill Clinton mentions God and Jesus Christ more every year he was President than George W. Bush did any year he was President, and his references to God and Jesus went up three times during election years. So, please, let's stop the hypocrisy of one party being welded to one religious left-- the-- the religious left is the Democratic Party at prayer.
ANDREW SULLIVAN: Oh, please. First of all, my piece criticizes President Obama for precisely that thing. I am as opposed to the religious left using Jesus to advance that politics as I am opposed--
RICHARD LAND: But you didn't criticize (indistinct) program. You criticized religious rights--
ANDREW SULLIVAN: Well, because, in fact the religious right is infinitely more powerful and controls the Republican Party in the way religious left has nothing-- nothing like the power. And as you know, religious churches are key parts of political campaigns you can't win the South Carolina primary without churches actually running the Republican candidate.
RICHARD LAND: There's-- theirs is no--
ANDREW SULLIVAN: The fusion of evangelical religion--
RICHARD LAND: There's no-- there's no--
ANDREW SULLIVAN: --where Republicanism is real.
RICHARD LAND: The fuse-- any fusion between evangelicalism and Republicanism pales in comparison to the point of anemia compared to the black church of the Democratic Party.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me go to Rabbi Wolpe. Where do you weigh in on what you've just heard here, Rabbi?
RABBI DAVID WOLPE: Well, I think that it is important to understand that, first of all, you can't, as you hear, you can't leach religion out of the public discourse--you can't do it on the right and you can't do it on the left. And that also, obviously, the perspectives are going to be skewed by which side you favor, how you see God's place in it but without making a political judgment because I don't want to suggest that clergy or political experts, even though we are often pushed to be that. I'd say that it is legitimate for churches, synagogues, mosques to push an issue if not a candidate. That is there are certain issues that are going to strike at the heart of religious belief. If I get up in my synagogue and I don't speak about Israel, part of my task as a rabbi is, I mean, has been shirked, that is something that is critical to my community, it is critical to me, is close to the Jewish heart and should be spoken about even though it has clear political implications. So there are such fractured and divided lines in this, that I don't think these bright divisions are either-- either helpful or accurate. And no matter what political position you take, you will find that you have some religious allies in the position, part of the key, of course, is to stay away from candidates and-- and encouraging certain positions in elections.
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