The EFM Feature

Many times we here at EFM have argued that if evangelicals allow the best candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination to be vetoed because of his theology, we will be setting a precedent that can and will be used against us. Some, I’m sure, think we’re crying wolf–perhaps because Mormonism is “too weird” or beyond the pale in some way. But we’re not. We’re dead serious. And if you don’t think there are lots of folks out there who would love to exclude conservative evangelicals from the public square, well, you ought to come hang out here in Washington (or Philadelphia, where I, not to mention the Frenches, used to live*), read some polling (in 2006, 21 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t vote for an evangelical for president), or read yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. The backlash against churchgoing conservatives has already begun–though Roman Catholics are the first in the crosshairs. As John Yoo writes:

Almost 50 years ago, a young presidential candidate named John F. Kennedy declared, “I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.” Americans put aside worries about his Catholic faith and elected him to our nation’s highest office.
But for many liberals today, what’s good enough for a Kennedy in the White House isn’t good enough for a Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Earlier this month Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the 5-4 majority opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart upholding the 2003 Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, which prohibits an abortion procedure that partially delivers a living fetus and then kills it.
Liberal critics just can’t believe that a majority of Americans find this procedure immoral. Nor can they understand why many think the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade is muddle-headed and misguided for conjuring a woman’s right to abortion out of a constitutional guarantee of “due process.” Nor do they appreciate that many think the Supreme Court has usurped the democratic process by choosing to decide the correct balance between the rights of a pregnant woman and an unborn child.
Instead, pro-choice liberals resort to the claim that the decision in Carhart must come not from reason, but from the justices’ personal religious beliefs. Geoffrey Stone, former dean of the University of Chicago Law School, claims the justices upheld the ban because they’re Catholic. “It is too obvious, and too telling, to ignore,” he writes on his law school’s Web site. “By making this judgment, these justices have failed to respect the fundamental difference between religious belief and morality.”
Mr. Stone’s view apparently is shared by Rosie O’Donnell, who asked on ABC’s “The View”: “How about separation of church and state in America?” Similarly, a pro-choice coalition of religious leaders issued a statement saying the five justices in the majority “decided they could better determine what was moral and good than the physicians, women and families facing difficult, personal choices in problem pregnancies.”
These accusations rely on one truth. The five justices in the Carhart majority–Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito–are Catholic. But as a critique of the Supreme Court’s work, the claim is plain silly, if not sad.

Look, folks. If you think the reaction would be any different if the Carhart majority were five evangelicals, you’re dreaming. It’s not just about Mormons, and it’s not just about Catholics. There is a large and dedicated group in this country that does not think people like us–Mormon, Roman Catholic, evangelical, or whatever–should be allowed to bring our convictions to bear on public policy. They’re not just interested in taking down Governor Romney, though they are exceptionally afraid of him–witness the amount of guff the mainstream media and the DNC has given him this year compared to Mayor Giuliani or even Senator McCain. They are after us, too, and in their post-Carhart rage, they’re already showing their cards. If you’re tempted to aid and abet them as they swarm the Mormon who would govern according to our values, Mr. or Mrs. Evangelical Christian, don’t. EFM isn’t crying wolf here–it will come back and bite you, and it won’t take long, either..
Thanks to reader Vic for encouraging us to write on this topic.
* Did I mention that Nancy wrote an excellent book during the Philly experience?

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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