Rabbi Arthur Waskow, 4/18/2005
Senator Frist, majority leader of the US Senate, is leading a major national TV campaign to accuse opponents of ultra-right-wing judicial appointments of being "anti-faith." (See page 1, col. 1, of NY Times of Friday, April 15. Lead paragraphs of the article appear below this letter, with a link to the full text. )
We cannot let this bigotry slide by, and we cannot let him impose lifetime judges on us all who hold his narrow view of America. NOW is the time for action.
You can act by clicking here: http://tinyurl.com/c5xxf
Most of the people on this Email list — and by far most Americans — don't share the Senator's version of religious faith. He's welcome to his. But he's not welcome to slander mine, or yours, and he's not welcome to install judges that will stuff his version down the throats of us all.
So far as he is concerned, if you have any religious conviction or roots other than right-wing Christian, you are "anti-faith." Even if you ARE a "right-wing Christian" in religious faith but don't want to impose those beliefs on others, you are "anti-faith."
If he were just takiing part in a disgusting act of bigotry and slander, bad enough. But he wants to make his bigotry into public policy.
What is Senator Frist's slander about? Senate Hard Right ultras are proposing to abolish the present rules of debate on confirming judges.
If the present rules stay in place, it will take 60 Senators to confirm a judge. If they are changed, it will take only 50 Senators plus VP Cheney.
Even its supporters call this change the "nuclear option." Indeed, it could "nuke" an important bulwark of American democracy and religious freedom — the independence of Federal judges.
Why not let a bare "majority" of Senators confirm judges? These judges will sit for 20, 30, years.
So what could be temporary Hard Right Congressional/ Presidential power — reversible in elections — would instead be enshrined for two generations in the courts.
Many of the Bush appointees are hard-core ideological right-wingers. (The Senate has approved hundreds of Bush appointees who were conservative, but not Hard Right fanatics.)
If we doubted the insistence of the new Hard Right to press its power to the hilt of every knife, check out Congressman DeLay's threats to the judges who upheld judicial independence and refused to obey the Congressional/ Presidential diktat on the Schiavo case. (Many Americans who would have preferred to continue the heroic measures on Ms. Schiavo were horrified by the Presidential/ Congressional intervention.)
The Bush Administration is trying to pack the courts with ultra-right-wing judges.
These new judges will be making decisions about torture, abortion, gay rights, permanent imprisonment of US citizens without access to lawyers or criminal charges or trial, efforts to end the industrial poisoning of our children by mercury, the right to make one's own choices about whether to be kept artificially "alive," and many other issues in the most intimate and important aspects of our lives.
AND NOW SENATOR FRIST WANTS TO HIGHJACK RELIGION AND "FAITH" TO SUPPORT THIS ULTRA-RIGHT-WING AGENDA.
HE IS SLANDERING PEOPLE OF FAITH WHO AFFIRM THE BILL OF RIGHTS AS ONE OF GOD'S WISEST CREATIONS, WHO BELIEVE THAT GOD DOES NOT WANT OUR CHILDREN'S BRAINS POISONED BY TOXIC MERCURY, WHO BELIEVE THE CREATOR INTENDED US TO PROTECT THE CREATION FROM GREED AND DESOLATION.
And he is doing this precisely so that a narrow version of right-wing Christianity can impose itself as the norm of both law and religion.
Pennsylvania's Senator Arlen Specter may be THE swing vote on this question. CALL HIM at 202-224-4254. AND CALL 202/ 224-3121 FOR BOTH YOUR OWN SENATORS.
Below please see a model letter to your Senators. You can write them easily by clicking http://tinyurl.com/c5xxf and you can make any changes you like in what you write them.
Please act now!! If you are a rabbi, minister, priest, or imam, please condemn this attack on freedom of religion by speaking out from the pulpit. And if you are a congregant who feels aggrieved by Senator Frist's bigotry and his political intent, please alert your clergy and your congregation.
With blessings that Freedom and Shalom grow new strength from our efforts —
MODEL LETTER TO YOUR SENATOR
I am outraged that Senator Frist is trying to highjack and slander my religious beliefs by accusing me and millions like me of being "anti-faith."
I strongly oppose putting the confirmation of lifetime Federal judges in the hands of a temporary bare majority of the Senate. I strongly urge you to vote against the "nuclear option."
And I urge you to oppose confirmation of ultra-right-wing judges who are prepared to shatter the Bill of Rights and prevent the public from protecting God's creation.
April 15, 2005
Frist Set to Use Religious Stage on Judicial Issue
By David D. Kirkpatrick
WASHINGTON, April 14 - As the Senate heads toward a showdown over the rules governing judicial confirmations, Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's nominees.
Fliers for the telecast, organized by the Family Research Council and scheduled to originate at a Kentucky megachurch the evening of April 24, call the day "Justice Sunday" and depict a young man holding a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other. The flier does not name participants, but under the heading "the filibuster against people of faith," it reads: "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now being used against people of faith."
Organizers say they hope to reach more than a million people by distributing the telecast to churches around the country, over the Internet and over Christian television and radio networks and stations.
Click here for the rest of the article.
Click here for other articles on interreligious relations and the emergence of a new prophetic agenda.