Friday is Constitution Day. As national holidays go, it’s no Thanksgiving. Many Americans don’t even know about it; few will attend events to mark the day.
On Sunday I gave a talk here in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s famous speech in Houston endorsing church-state separation.
Kennedy used his Sept. 12, 1960, address to dispel fears that as president, he would elevate Roman Catholic dogma over the national interest. In eloquent language, he told an audience of Protestant clergy that he supported religious liberty and endorsed “absolute” separation of church and state.
Over the weekend, I was given a “history” lesson by Kenneth Blackwell, Newt Gingrich, Randy Forbes and dozens of other Religious Right favorites speaking at the Faith and Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing here in Washington.
Their version of history certainly wasn’t the one I learned in school. But the nearly 200 “values voters” who traveled to Washington for the event hung on every word and cheered speakers on – an image that would make any real historian cringe.
Like a sleazy political version of movie monster Freddy Krueger, Ralph Reed just won’t go away.
The notorious Religious Right operative is back in Washington, D.C., today for a conference and strategy briefing at the Mayflower Hotel. Call it “Nightmare on Connecticut Avenue.” The event is sponsored by Reed’s latest vehicle, the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
The wave of anti-Muslim hysteria sweeping the nation right now is deplorable. Americans of goodwill who value the Founding Fathers’ commitment to religious liberty must stand against it.
This Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s famous speech in which he vowed to uphold the Constitution and keep church and state separate.
Before several hundred clergy of the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, then-Sen. Kennedy declared in a speech during the 1960 presidential race that he believed “in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” He affirmed religious liberty and insisted that no religious body should impose its beliefs on the “general populace or the public acts of its officials.”
Up-and-coming Religious Right leader Lou Engle held a rally in Sacramento, Calif., over the weekend, an event a local newspaper referred to as “a religious revival meeting with a political bent.”
According to the Sacramento Bee, the 12-hour rally was loaded with attacks on same-sex marriage, legal abortion, erotic material and other things Engle doesn’t like.
While researching my book Close Encounters with the Religious Right in 1999, I visited the headquarters of Focus on the Family (FOF) in Colorado Springs.
During the tour, the guide showed us a large map of the world covered with lights. Each light represented a city where FOF broadcasts were heard over the radio.
This weekend, Religious Right groups will kickoff election season by holding the first in a series of rallies, conferences and other events to stir up their base and turn out the vote in November.
On Sept. 3-4, Lou Engle, the raspy-voiced founder of the neo-Pentecostal group TheCall, will lead the initial event in Sacramento. “Faithful Christians” will gather to pray for the “sanctity of life,” the “sacredness of marriage,” and the “preservation of religious liberty.”
The Alliance Defense Fund is trumpeting an Aug. 27 clip of “Christian nation” revisionist David Barton appearing on Glenn Beck’s program lauding pulpit politicking.
Barton is looking forward to the ADF’s Sept. 26 “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” during which pastors will openly violate the law by endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit. Beck seemed taken with the idea as well.