Bad Religion, Bad Politics

This column was written by Katrina vanden Heuvel.
I'm writing this on the eve of "Justice Sunday" -- a telecast being promoted by evangelical Christian conservatives who charge that Democrats opposing President Bush's judicial nominees are acting "against people of faith."

The Senate Republican's Defender of the Faith, Bill Frist, who supports a "culture of life" but not lively debate, is scheduled to join in this televised show -- designed to smear those who have honest differences over policy issues as religious bigots. As the Boston Globe asked in a tough editorial attacking Frist's intolerance: "Will every political difference now open opponents to such accusations? And whose definition of 'faith' is in use here?"

These are scary times. The nation is in the control of extremists who want to merge church and state. A line is crossed when religion demonizes politicians of certain religion -- or no religion -- and when the church-state separation is breached by people believing that their God is better than another God.

Extremists are attacking an independent judiciary and checks and balances, both fundamental elements of a democracy. Earlier this month, as Max Blumenthal reported for The Nation online, conservative activists and top GOP staffers are likening judges to communists, terrorists, and murderers. One so-called scholar invoked one of Stalin's favorite sayings, "No person, no problem," suggesting this was the preferred way of dealing with out-of-control courts. (By the way, according to the Alliance for Justice, 55 percent of the Circuit Court judges are GOP appointees. Republicans advocating killing Republicans?)

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