Jewish World Review April 18, 2005/ 9 Nissan, 5765
Trying to play the Jesus card
Howard Dean, the chief screamer and chairman of the Democratic National
Committee, thinks he has the formula for a Democratic revival:
Jesus, guns and balanced budgets.
He told Arkansas newspaper columnist John Brummett on the eve of a
meeting of state chairmen in Little Rock that he wants Democrats to
speak up for "values."
"We need to talk about Christian values and how they're Democratic
values," he said. "Jesus taught to help the least among us. He spent his
life reaching out to the disenfranchised. The Democratic Party is the
party of that value, not the Republican Party."
His proposition was once at least arguable, and he found a ripe
target for one needling remark: "I was a governor who balanced eight
budgets in a row, which is eight more than the Republicans, and I was a
governor who was endorsed every year by the National Rifle Association."
But he's also the governor who, trying to sound like a tent-revival
Democrat, boasted that his favorite New Testament book was the Book of
Job, which would have amused Job himself, being a nice Jewish boy whose
manifold afflictions were set out in the Hebrew Bible. Little Howard
was not the attentive Sunday school boy he should have been.
Nevertheless, we take heart when and where we can, and the Lord
loves a cheerfully serious penitent. If Howard Dean can point the
Democrats to a sawdust trail that leads to the old-time religion, well,
huzzah and hallelujah. But he must take his lunch to the task, because
it's likely to be an all-day job.
A remarkable three-part series by Julia Duin in The Washington Times
sets out the furious secular campaign against the very idea of religious
values, mocking in particular the faith of Christians. It's the
staunchest of Democratic Party allies who are leading the attack. Many
Christians, and many Americans of other persuasions or of no faith at
all, see the threat to cut the national culture loose from its
Judeo-Christian roots as aggressive, virulent and growing.
Leading the assault are the American Civil Liberties Union, which
has never met a sordid cause it couldn't embrace, and advocacy groups
called Americans United for Separation of Church and State and People
for the American Way. Their stated goal is a naked public square, devoid
of all evidence of the nation's identification with the worship of God,
and ultimately a nation remade in the image of man. Their complaints
against the faithful descend into the petty and spiteful; one group of
litigious atheists even sued to prevent the football team at the
University of Wisconsin from pre-game prayer in their locker room, well
out of sight of atheists and others whose delicate psyches may have been
vulnerable in the stands.
The skeptics have adopted Thomas Jefferson as their patron saint,
citing him, correctly, as the author of the idea of a wall between
church and state. The phrase, "separation of church and state," does not
appear in the Constitution, but was taken from Jefferson's famous letter
to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut, in which he told them
that he contemplated "with sovereign reverence that act of the whole
American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no
law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and
Jefferson actually wrote to the Baptists, for whom separation of
church and state has always been an article of strongly held conviction,
to persuade them that a state-established church such as the
Congregational or the Anglican in several states would not harm their
own beliefs. On another occasion, Jefferson said that "it does me no
injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no god. It neither
picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
But merely to speak of God, and particularly to speak of Jesus, sets
atheist hair, where there is any, afire. Mocking faith, and particularly
the faith of Christians, has become the sport of secularists. Writes Los
Angeles Times columnist Burt Prelutsky, who takes pains to identify
himself as a Jew: "Anti-Semitism is no longer a problem in society
it's been replaced by a rampant anti-Christianity."
The bad news for Howard Dean and the Democrats is that the
anti-Christian soldiers are nearly all Democrats. If he wants to teach
Democrats to sing hymns to red-state "values," he'll have to tell some
of his allies to stifle themselves, and learn the words himself before
he strikes up the band.
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.