Right Opinion

Religious Tests: The Fine Line of Feinstein

Tony Perkins · Sep. 14, 2017

If liberals were seriously concerned about bigotry, they’d be fighting the rash of it right under their nose! While groups like Southern Poverty Law Center continue their phony crusade against Christians, their own party leaders are acting with the same prejudice they claim to be fighting — Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) being one of the most recent examples, taking Americans back to JFK-era skepticism when people claimed it was impossible to serve both God and country.

In a worrisome trend that started with Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) red-faced rant against budget pick Russell Vought, liberals seem increasingly comfortable disqualifying nominees based solely on their religion. In a Senate Judiciary hearing last week, Feinstein dropped the mask on the Left’s fierce intolerance toward faith by loudly criticizing Amy Barrett’s beliefs. “When you read your speeches,” the California senator accused, “the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for — for years in this country.”

It was a startling moment for Barrett — and much of the country, which wrongly assumed that liberals practiced the same broad-mindedness they preach. In at least a few pockets of progressivism, some still do — lashing out at Feinstein for comments that one socially liberal priest denounced as a “throwback to an era when Catholics were seen as unthinking tools of the Pope.” Leaders from Princeton University, Notre Dame, and churches across the country blasted Feinstein’s comments — including the executive director of an “Obama-supporting interest group,” Christopher Hale. “Dianne Feinstein [is the] latest adolescent, uneducated anti-Catholic trope, embarrassing for a nation that’s ¼ Catholic,” he said in a scathing post. Even The New York Times, which isn’t where readers usually look for a defense of religious liberty, unleashed on the senator in Sohrab Ahmari’s piece, “The Dogma of Dianne Feinstein.”

As a classical liberal and a recent convert to Catholicism, I find all of this deeply dismaying. Long before I started on my journey to Rome, I believed in the promise of the free society — a system in which liberty and tradition could contend without either one trying to destroy the other. One could be fully a believer and fully invested in a liberal constitutional order. But for some progressives, it isn’t enough to have won most of the cultural and policy battles of the past several decades. Even the remnants of the other side, in people’s minds and consciences, must submit to maximalist progressive claims.

It won’t happen, and the desire to do so isn’t actually liberal. It is, well, dogmatic. Not all dogmas involve Almighty God.

Republicans weren’t far behind. Mormon Senators Orrin Hatch (Utah), Mike Lee (Utah), and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) were among the scores of conservatives pushing back on Feinstein’s unconstitutional religious test. “Qualifications for judicial service include legal experience and judicial philosophy, but not a nominee’s personal religious beliefs,” said Hatch. “Democrats often argue that judges can base decisions on their personal views, at least when those views produce liberal political results. I have yet to find an example of similar concern over the religious beliefs of liberal nominees or nominees from other faith backgrounds.”

Feeling the heat, Feinstein tried to “clarify” her statement, insisting with a straight face that she has “never and will never apply a religious litmus test to nominees. Nominees of all religious faiths are capable of setting aside their religious beliefs while on the bench and applying the Constitution, laws, and Supreme Court precedent.” Then, letting the veneer slip, she went on to say that she must scrutinize whether nominees can be impartial (something she has not yet mastered).

Clearly, she — and every senator — must now be asked whether they intend to apply the Feinstein-Sanders test. Until then, Senate candidate Luke Messer is calling on Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) to “repudiate” Feinstein’s remarks (and those of Illinois’s Dick Durbin, D). “Today, I am calling on Senator Donnelly to return the campaign contributions from Senator Feinstein and Senator Durbin, and pledge to not take any more money or attend any fundraisers with Feinstein and Durbin until they both apologize,” he said. “Bigotry targeted at someone’s religion is beyond the pale.” If you agree, sign our petition to the U.S. Senate here.

For more on the Feinstein fallout, check out this piece from FRC’s Travis Weber, “Can a Christian Serve as a Judge Anymore?

Originally published here.

A GOPlea on Trans Policy

President Trump has done more than his share of promise-keeping. It’s a shame the same can’t be said of Senate Republicans. Weeks after the White House took the courageous step to do what military leaders asked on Barack Obama’s transgender policy, some GOP members seem intent on undermining the effort, despite voters’ outspoken support. When President Trump announced that he was rolling back the radical social experimentation that characterized his predecessor’s time in office, Americans cheered. They flocked to the commander in chief’s Twitter account to rack up almost 400,000 likes for his three-tweet pronouncement.

And who can blame them? The country has waited eight years for a leader who puts America’s mission first. Now, in a frustrating turn, a handful of Senate Republicans seem determined to stand in his way. With a bold leader in the White House who’s done the things he campaigned on, the GOP can’t seem to take the hint that this is not only what voters want but what’s best for the military. The service chiefs have said so, the troops have said so, the research says so, and most importantly, the commander in chief says so.

Of course, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) isn’t a surprising foe to the president’s policy — nor is liberal Republican Susan Collins (Maine). But the current of disagreement among otherwise conservative Republicans sends a very clear signal that this isn’t the same party advertised to voters last November.

Fortunately, President Trump — unlike a slate of squishy senators — isn’t budging. Asked about the Left’s amendment to return the troops to Obama-era social engineering, the White House was clear: “The administration opposes the Sen. Gillibrand amendment,” the NSC spokesperson said. “The president signed an EO tasking DOD with implementation.” The Pentagon, for its part, is moving forward. “As directed, DOD will develop an implementation plan, which will contain the steps that will promote military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion, with due regard for budgetary constraints and consistent with applicable law,” said spokesperson Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick.

After a rocky summer of misfires and disappointments, the GOP can’t afford to betray Americans now. Senate Republicans failed to deliver an Obamacare repeal despite assuring voters over and over they would. Now, after President Trump took the monumental step of undoing Obama’s radical social policy, they seem intent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. If they do, the message to voters will be very, very clear — the GOP’s protestations over Obama’s radical policies were nothing more than political theater. And if they stand in the way of this president, Republicans will take ownership of these dangerous policies that not only undermine our nation’s morality but endanger America’s security.

Originally published here.

Hostile Territory for Religion in America

Religious hostility— it’s not just for bakers anymore! You don’t have to be cake-maker Jack Phillips to know the attacks on U.S. Christians are on the rise. No administration was more antagonistic to faith than Barack Obama’s — and the 133 percent spike in religious intolerance proves it. That’s how much our friends at First Liberty Institute say the crisis has exploded over the last five years. In their new report, “Undeniable,” they highlight cases where people’s First Freedom was infringed in one way or another — either in the public arena, in the military, in schools or even within church walls.

Like FRC, which has been documenting cases like this in our own “Hostility to Religion” report, First Liberty has noticed a significant jump in incidents — even in the last year. “To deny that religious freedom is in crisis in America is to deny the obvious. And yet there are deniers. Ironically, they include those who launch the very attacks that have caused the crisis itself,” the report explains. “The American people, however, deserve the truth. For that reason, every year a team of legal researchers at First Liberty Institute — led by a Harvard-trained constitutional attorney — investigates and documents the rise in the number and severity of domestic attacks on religion.”

For Donald Trump, who inherited two terms worth of wreckage from Obama’s war on faith, the number one priority has been rebuilding — brick by brick — Americans’ First Amendment freedoms. As recently as Friday, he sided with churches in a dispute over FEMA aid. He’s fought to overturn the Johnson Amendment, issued an executive order on religious liberty, and led the effort to right the wrong done to Christians like geologist Andrew Snelling and Don Vander Boon by the Obama holdovers in his government agencies.

But, as First Liberty CEO Kelly Shackelford explains, there’s plenty of work left to do. “It’s school cases, it’s military cases, it’s open public places cases, employment cases. Unfortunately, it is not [just] one particular area [of society], it’s across the board. What we collect is just what’s published. So really it is just the tip of the iceberg because what’s published is really a fraction of what is actually happening.”

More than anything, this underscores the need for the Justice Department to issue its guidance on the president’s executive order. President Obama spent eight years using his policies and his bully pulpit to unleash the anti-religious (and specifically anti-Christian) forces in America. The animosity that’s built up over the last decade won’t go away on its own — and it certainly won’t stop just because Barack Obama is gone. The only way these attacks on faith cease is for those policies to be reversed. Not just halted, but overturned. That starts with the DOJ following through on its pledge to release its guidance to all federal agencies based on the president’s executive order on religious liberty.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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