The Jury Talks Back

1/11/2019

Democrats And Republicans Guilty of Their Own Religious Bigotry

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 11:32 am

[guest post by Dana]

It’s very clear: the Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. Article VI, Clause 3.

In recent weeks, we have witnessed several ugly religious tests taking place from members on both sides of the aisle.

With their bigotry on full display and making an obvious effort to waylay the nomination of federal judicial nominee Brian Buescher, Democratic Senators Kamala Harris (CA) and Maizie Hirono (HI) challenged Buescher because of his involvement with the 136-year old Catholic charity, Knights of Columbus, whose members have raised more than $1.5 billion for charity in the past decade. Or, as Kevin D. Williamson slyly observes, “funny who is an “extremist” these days”:

“The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions,” said Ms. Hirono, Hawaii Democrat, citing the group’s opposition to same-sex marriage. “If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?”

Ms. Harris asked Mr. Buescher, who became a member 25 years ago as a teenager, “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?”

Mr. Buescher, who said he would abide by the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges regarding his affiliations, said his participation has centered on “charitable and community events in local Catholic parishes.”

“I do not recall if I was aware whether the Knights of Columbus had taken a position on the abortion issue when I joined at the age of 18,” he replied.

Further:

Harris raised a statement from Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, who said that abortion constituted “the killing of the innocent on a massive scale” and asked Buescher if he agreed with Anderson.

Buescher said he was not responsible for drafting statements or policies made by the Knights and that, as a federal judge, he would consider himself bound by judicial precedent regarding abortion.

“I did not draft this language. If confirmed, I would be bound by precedent of the United States Supreme Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and would not be guided by statements made by others,” Buescher told the senator.

Of course, religious bigotry is nothing new in the Democratic party. Sen. Diane Feinstein raised a red flag at the 2017 judicial confirmation hearing of Amy Coney Barrett, and claimed that Catholic “dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s a concern,” to which her Democratic colleague Dick Durbin (D-IL), concurred. And if that itself isn’t a concern for lovers of religious liberty and the specific prohibition of any “test,” then I don’t know what is.

Anyway, Ramesh Ponuru gets down to brass tacks, noting the ridiculousness of these attacks on the Knights of Columbus, and suggests the Harris and Hirono just be honest about it:

Among the many stupidities of this campaign against the Knights is its superfluity. Buescher is voluntarily affiliated with two even larger organizations that are on record in opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage: the Catholic church; the Republican party…If Harris and Hirono want to maintain that all judicial nominees must support abortion, beyond just saying that they will respect existing law, then they should just say that there are scores of millions of Christians they would never allow on the federal bench on account of their beliefs. There is no need to launch an attack on the Knights.

Obviously, it is in the senators’ best interest – and political survival – to keep up appearances and further their charade, no matter how easily we see through it. However, in a bit of a pleasant surprise, a colleague of Harris and Hirono’s brought some moral and legal clarity to the situation, as she refused to accept such discrimination within her party.

From Sen. Tulsi Gabbard’s (D-HI) scathing op-ed:

While I oppose the nomination of Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, I stand strongly against those who are fomenting religious bigotry, citing as disqualifiers Buescher’s Catholicism and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus. If Buescher is “unqualified” because of his Catholicism and affiliation with the Knights of Columbus, then President John F. Kennedy, and the ‘liberal lion of the Senate’ Ted Kennedy would have been “unqualified” for the same reasons.

…No American should be told that his or her public service is unwelcome because “the dogma lives loudly within you” as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said to Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearings in 2017 to serve as U.S. Circuit Court judge in the 7th Circuit.

While I absolutely believe in the separation of church and state as a necessity to the health of our nation, no American should be asked to renounce his or her faith or membership in a faith-based, service organization in order to hold public office.

The party that worked so hard to convince people that Catholics and Knights of Columbus like Al Smith and John F. Kennedy could be both good Catholics and good public servants shows an alarming disregard of its own history in making such attacks today.

We must call this out for what it is – religious bigotry. This is true not just when such prejudice is anti-Catholic, but also when it is anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Hindu, or anti-Protestant, or any other religion.

Elected leaders engaging in religion-baiting are playing with fire. They are sacrificing the well-being, peace and harmony of our country to satisfy their own political ambitions for partisan political interests.

Read the whole thing.

Another sort of religious test on the right side of the aisle drew to a close last night. I wrote about members of the Tarrant County GOP pushing to expel a Muslim from a leadership position within their ranks here:

Members of the Tarrant County Republican Party will vote Jan. 10 on whether Shahid Shafi, a 53-year-old trauma surgeon and city councilman in the Fort Worth suburb of Southlake since 2014, should be removed as a vice chairman.

A precinct chairwoman forced the vote after making unproven claims that Shafi, who has served as a delegate to several GOP state conventions, has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism and wants to impose sharia law. Other precinct chairs have joined in the calls to remove Shafi.

Still unbelievable.

Last night, Texas Republicans put the ugly dog of religious discrimination down by voting to keep Shafi in the position of vice chairman. That this even came to a vote will be to the everlasting shame of the Tarrant County GOP. As it should. (Note: The Republican Party of Texas, GOP senators, governors stood firmly against the religious bigotry directed toward Shafi and stood firmly in support of religious freedom):

Executive committee members voted 139-49 to keep surgeon Shahid Shafi in his role in a meeting Thursday evening that was closed to the media at Faith Creek Church in Richland Hills.

“Today, the beacon of liberty held by the Statue of Liberty is shining brighter,” Shafi said after the vote. “My faith in our party, in our country, has been reaffirmed.”

Shafi said he held no animosity for his detractors, instead attributing the dozens of votes against him to a difference of opinion. Other minorities should draw inspiration from the night’s events, Shafi said, because the vote proved the Tarrant County GOP is open to all conservatives.

“Religious liberty won tonight,” Tarrant County GOP chair Darl Easton said in a prepared statement. “And while that makes a great day for the Republican Party of Tarrant County, that victory also serves notice that we have much work to do unifying our party.”

Interestingly:

GOP precinct chair Dale Atteberry courted controversy by hosting an anti-Muslim speaker to address party members and others last month so they “know the truth” before the vote.

Atteberry resigned as precinct chair after the vote, according to Sam Bryant, a member of the State Republic Executive Committee for Senate District 22.

Religious bigotry is not limited to any side of the aisle. Both are comprised of narrow-minded bigots willing to manipulate the law as much as possible to see their end goals realized. This should not be acceptable to anyone. Especially when it concerns lawmakers elected to represent “all” of the people within their districts and states.

–Dana

2 Comments »

  1. As someone who has lived in Tarrant County my whole life and has worked with the local GOP on US House races, it’s unsurprising that a few members called for this vote and even more unsurprising that the membership voted it down. We have a few groups here in north texas that are over vigilant when it comes to the growing Muslim community, and some individuals overreact in spectacular fashion. However, note that acting as chair for a political party is hardly covered under the articles of the Constitution.

    Comment by Sean — 1/12/2019 @ 1:44 pm

  2. Thanks for your comment, Sean. And no, they aren’t the same, but they essentially deal with the same thing: religious bigotry. That’s why I made an effort to distinguish between the two:

    Another sort of religious test on the right side of the aisle

    However, I don’t believe that Harris and Hirono are necessarily religious bigots in that any individual who wouldn’t pass the abortion litmus test would be given short shrift. Their religious attacks are simply a means to an end, not necessarily with a personalized hatred of religion.

    On the other hand, the group in Tarrant County pushing for the vote, I believe, are just bigots. While you’re not surprised that a few members called for the vote, and that it was voted down, the numbers were surprising given how many votes there were against Shafi. While a small number of individuals may have called for the vote, a large number sure followed their lead.

    Comment by Dana — 1/12/2019 @ 4:21 pm

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