Iraq Isn't Only Reason to Oppose Lieberman

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Iraq Isn't Only Reason to Oppose Lieberman

Everyone agrees that Iraq is the reason why Sen. Joe Lieberman is in danger of losing the Democratic Senate primary Aug. 8 in Connecticut. Although I think Lieberman deserves criticism for what he has said and done vis-a-vis the Iraq war, this isn't the only issue on which Lieberman has allowed his personal views to trump reality.

Consider the separation of church and state.

Lieberman worked closely with President Bush and Republican Sen. Rick Santorum to push for the administration's so-called faith-based initiatives. Besides serving as a political payoff to the GOP's base, this initiative has placed drug rehabilitation and other serious challenges in the hands of individuals who have little or no clinical knowledge or experience in these areas.

At an impromptu press conference at the White House in February 2002, Lieberman made this inexplicable statement:
"I have always believed that faith, right from the beginning of this country, was one of the great unifiers of the American people."
On what basis does he believe that?

Someone should ask Lieberman whether his words "right from the beginning" include the 1635 decision by the Massachusetts General Court to banish Roger Williams for spreading "newe & dangerous opinions" about religion.

Does "right from the beginning" include the decision by Virginia authorities in the 1770s to arrest an evangelical Baptist preacher because he convened a prayer meeting in the colony without a license? The minister received 20 lashes for his misdeed.

For several decades after the U.S. Constitution was ratified, the states of Maryland and North Carolina still had religious tests that precluded Jews, Quakers and/or others from holding public office.

If faith were a great unifier, a lot more Mormons probably would be living today in Illinois. Hundreds of them fled the state in 1844 after a lynch mob killed church leader Joseph Smith.

If Lieberman tried to offer a 20th century example of faith's role as a "great unifier," I doubt he would mention the vicious, anti-Catholic rhetoric that helped defeat Al Smith in the 1928 presidential election. One anti-Smith leaflet was headlined: "Rome's Tatooed Man."

Lieberman might think religion has been a great source of unity in America, but the record pours cold water on his assertion. It's one more area where he's operating with blinders on.

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