Nov 13, 2002

Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R-Pa.) should drop his plans to speak this weekend before a radical fundamentalist group that seeks to impose "biblical law" on the nation, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Pitts, who serves as the House Republican leadership's liaison to religious conservatives, is scheduled to speak at a conference of the National Reform Association in Ephrata, Pa. Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn sent Pitts a letter yesterday asking him to bow out.

"The National Reform Association advocates extreme policies that run counter to our Constitution and the American way of life," Lynn wrote to Pitts. "Your appearance at this event will inevitably lend credibility to that dangerous agenda.

Lynn concluded, "Accordingly, I ask you to withdraw from the event this weekend and issue a public statement repudiating the extreme views of the National Reform Association."

Lynn noted that the National Reform Association is the political arm of a movement called "Christian Reconstructionism." Adherents of this religio-political agenda favor scrapping democracy in America and establishing a "Christian" religious state according to their interpretation of the Old Testament's legal code.

"These people are so extreme they would make the mullahs in Iran blush," said AU's Lynn. "Their bizarre agenda should be repudiated, not endorsed, by members of Congress."

In the Reconstructionists' model society, homosexuality, worshipping "false" gods, "witchcraft" and marital infidelity would merit the death penalty. One sponsor of this weekend's event, the Rev. William Einwechter, argued in a 1999 article that juvenile delinquents should be stoned to death. Another speaker at the event, Gary DeMar, asserted in a 1987 book that gay people, abortion doctors and parents who seek abortions for their daughters should be executed.

Four years ago, Pitts was appointed by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay and other House Republicans to serve as a liaison between the GOP and the Religious Right. But Lynn said the agenda of the Christian Reconstructionists goes far beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse.

"The American people may disagree about homosexuality and abortion," said Lynn, "but only extremists favor executing gay people and abortion providers. No member of Congress should give credibility to these extremists by appearing at their events. "

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.