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Jewish World Review Feb. 16, 2000 /10 Adar I, 5760

Don Feder

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Sunday school Hillary touts her piety -- LIKE BARBIE, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton comes in many models. During the '92 campaign, there was Homemaker Hillary, challenging Barbara Bush to a bake-off. That was followed by Stand-by-Her-Man Hillary during the Gennifer Flowers eruption.

In 1998, it was Persecution Complex Hillary, whining about vast right-wing conspiracies out to destroy the co-presidency. Now, there's Sunday School Hillary, the picture of piety.

The last is prompted by a fund-raising letter from her likely Senate opponent, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, tying her to liberal judges who "have banned the posting of even the Ten Commandments in our public schools."

The first lady counterattacked by touting her Methodist faith and trotting out a rabbi who says he's had many Bible discussions with her. (Yeshiva Student Hillary?)

Well, then, could Mrs. Clinton support public display of the Decalogue? Alas, no, the candidate laments, because "the Supreme Court has said that that is not constitutional."

But this is disingenuous. What's "constitutional" depends on the current composition of the court, including the activist justices her husband has appointed with, by all accounts, Hillary's advice and consent.

In 1980, the court held that posting the Ten Commandments alone in public schools violates church-state separation. On Feb. 3, the Indiana House voted to permit showing the commandments as part of a display of documents relating to America's founding.

Since the high court allows creches and menorahs on public property, in the company of secular holiday symbols, it's likely the Indiana law would pass muster. Liberals like Hillary are praying the Supreme Court never has a chance to rule on it.

Mrs. Clinton is religious, after a fashion. Hers is the social gospel of the mainline Protestant churches that substitutes activism for faith. Practitioners of this creed have nothing but disdain for traditional Christians and Jews.

The Giuliani letter charges that Hillary is hostile "toward America's religious traditions." For confirmation, look to the Clintons' administration -- from appointments to policies, as much Hillary's as Bill's. When it isn't sneering at believers, it's waging an unholy war on faith.

At the prompting of Clinton bureaucrats, in 1993 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission floated regulations that would have defined as religious harassment in the workplace wearing a crucifix or skull cap, or saying "I'll pray for you" to a co-worker. It was a crude attempt to make offices religion-free zones. Following a public outcry, the rules were withdrawn.

In December, Clinton appointees on the Federal Communications Commission determined that a Christian TV station in Pittsburgh didn't qualify as educational for purposes of license transfer because there's nothing educational about religion. Under congressional pressure, this too was reversed.

The Supreme Court's two Clinton justices -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer -- have consistently voted with its religion-phobic minority. In Rosenberger vs. Virginia (1995), the majority held that if a state university funded secular periodicals, including those hostile to religion, it must support religious publications. Breyer and Ginsburg dissented, as they did in Agostini vs. Felton (1997), where the majority ruled it was constitutional for a state to provide special-needs instruction to parochial-school students.

The White House doesn't try to hide its contempt for certain denominations. Last December, when Southern Baptists announced that they were planning to proselytize Hindus, presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart said the Baptists "perpetuate ancient religious hatred."

Giuliani should ask his opponent if she agrees with the foregoing. He might also ask her to explain why she believes the same First Amendment that forbids display of the Ten Commandments nevertheless requires taxpayer funding for art that degrades Christianity. (In the Brooklyn Museum controversy, she condemned the mayor for trying to withdraw support for a show that included a dung-smeared painting of the Virgin Mary.)

Most importantly, as a senator, would she vote to confirm judges who read the First Amendment as if it were written by atheist biggie Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

Watch Hypocrite Hillary morph into Evasive Hillary.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest book is Who's Afraid of the Religious Right. Comment on his column by clicking here.

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate