Gonzales's SBC Speech Irks Church-State Experts

The Christian Century, March 20, 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Gonzales's SBC Speech Irks Church-State Experts


Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's decision to launch a new Justice Department "First Freedom Project" during a recent meeting of Southern Baptist leaders riled a number of advocates of church-state separation.

"Nothing defines us more as a nation and differentiates us more from the extremists who are our enemies than our respect for religious freedom," said Gonzales in his February 20 speech in Nashville to the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the church bodies most supportive of the Bush administration. The project will include efforts to inform government officials, employers and ordinary Americans about their religious-liberty rights.

The department also released a 43-page report touting its record, under President Bush, in defending religious freedom. Gonzales and the report implied that the Justice Department's record on prosecuting religious-discrimination cases is significantly stronger under Bush than it was under former president Bill Clinton.

But several religious-liberty experts said Bush's record on the issue has been mixed at best.

Brent Walker, executive director of the Washington-based Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said that the First Amendment covers two aspects of religious freedom that are inextricably linked to each other.

"The First Amendment has two protections for religious freedom--prohibition on religious establishments and protection for free exercise of religion," Walker said. "The administration has often ignored the importance of the no-establishment principle by supporting attempts of governments to endorse a religious message, using tax dollars to fund pervasively religious organizations, allowing religious discrimination in hiring for federally funded projects, and going to the Supreme Court to cut back on the rights of citizens to challenge such practices."

Walker also noted that Bush's record on free-exercise protections is "not perfect." He pointed to a Supreme Court case last year in which the administration attempted to limit a small religious sect's ability to use hallucinogenic tea for sacramental purposes. A unanimous Supreme Court rejected the administration's position.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State went further, releasing a statement February 22 saying that Gonzales's announcement "reeks of hypocrisy." It called attention to actions the Justice Department touts as religious-freedom successes, but which are actually controversial in that field.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Gonzales's SBC Speech Irks Church-State Experts
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?