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March 31, 2005

Top Bush Appointee Condemns GOP as “The Political Extension of a Religious Movement”

Listed in: Separation of Church and State, NJDC News

An increasing number of Republicans are joining the ranks of Democrats and progressives nationwide in declaring the simple truth: the GOP and its policies perfectly echo the views of the ultra-conservative Christian right.

Just listen to the words of Republican Representative Christopher Shays (R-CT), who said this week that "this Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy." (Click here for more.)

Or hear what former GOP Senator John Danforth -- an Episcopal minister and President Bush's ambassador to the United Nations until his resignation two months ago -- had to say in yesterday's New York Times: "By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. ... The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement."

Below please find more excerpts from Ambassador Danforth's eloquent essay about how today's GOP is -- first and foremost -- the party of Christian conservatism in America.


The New York Times

In the Name of Politics

Published: March 30, 2005

By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube.

Standing alone, each of these initiatives has its advocates, within the Republican Party and beyond. But the distinct elements do not stand alone. Rather they are parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the dominant wing of the Republican Party.

... It is not evident to many of us that cells in a petri dish are equivalent to identifiable people suffering from terrible diseases. I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law.

...When government becomes the means of carrying out a religious program, it raises obvious questions under the First Amendment. But even in the absence of constitutional issues, a political party should resist identification with a religious movement. While religions are free to advocate for their own sectarian causes, the work of government and those who engage in it is to hold together as one people a very diverse country. At its best, religion can be a uniting influence, but in practice, nothing is more divisive. For politicians to advance the cause of one religious group is often to oppose the cause of another.

To read the complete op-ed by Ambassador Danforth, please click here.  You must register to read the op-ed.