May 26, 2006

Who does Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell represent – all the people of the Commonwealth or TV preacher Pat Robertson?

On May 25, McDonnell appeared on Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network to tout his work on behalf of an anti-gay constitutional amendment and to fawn over the controversial televangelist. The Virginia official, who is a graduate of Robertson's Regent Law School, is doing everything in his power to add a draconian change to the state constitution that would write the religious majority's views on marriage into the state's governing document.

But the amendment language is vague and sweeping. Legal experts say it would not only ban same-sex marriage, but would also jeopardize many other legal provisions protecting all unmarried couples. It would even put at risk important protections against domestic violence.

McDonnell's in-studio appearance on the "700 Club" was a love fest.

Said Robertson, "Well, it's a pleasure to welcome our dear friend and distinguished graduate of Regent University, the attorney general of Virginia. Bob McDonnell, Bobby, it's good to see you."

Robertson celebrated McDonnell's record in getting bills through the Virginia legislature and quickly moved to his effort to pass the marriage amendment. The measure will be on the ballot in November.

Adopting the Religious Right line, McDonnell said, "From the Garden of Eden to 2006, we've believed that marriage is between a man and a woman. But because of some social trends out there and some court decisions, Pat, as you know, marriage is under attack."

Noting that he helped write the amendment, McDonnell then launched into a paen to Robertson's law school.

"It was a great four years there," he burbled. "It gave me the insight into what our Founders believed about government and about their view of the Constitution that I am carrying forth on the job today. It gave me a great understanding of the limited role of government and the important role of the church and the family and the other institutions in society and what happens if government tries to take on those roles and can often make a mess. But it also gave me the real importance of being a Christian elected official."

Robertson asked McDonnell, a Notre Dame graduate, why he chose Regent for law school.

The attorney general replied, "Well, I saw this guy named Pat Robertson on the '700 Club' talking about this fine university in Virginia Beach, and, being a native Virginian, I thought, 'What a great place to learn the foundational principles of our country in a Christian atmosphere' and then to be able to use that to serve the public. I thought, 'What a great place to train.' And so, it was a great decision, and the principles I learned here have taken me forward in my public life."

So there you have it. The Constitution of the state of Virginia, the handiwork of Thomas Jefferson, is about to be rewritten by the crony of a TV preacher. And not just any TV preacher, but one who regularly issues outrageous and vicious attacks on mainline Christians, non-Christian minorities, gay people and anyone else who fails to toe the Religious Right line.

Church-state separation is a "lie of the left," says Robertson, who serves as chancellor and president of Regent University. His law school's mission statement demands that students, judges, legislators and other government officials "recognize and seek the biblical foundations of law." When you cut through the jargon, that means Robertson, McDonnell & Co. want a government where their religious beliefs are mandated on us all.

Wake up, Virginia! Your heritage of religious liberty and church-state separation is in peril. You can start taking on Robertson and his power-hungry crew by rejecting the marriage amendment on the ballot this fall.