News Articles

Conservatives, at Justice Sunday, say religious liberty at stake

PHILADELPHIA (BP)–Meeting in the city where America was founded, conservative leaders gathered in Philadelphia Jan. 8 to spotlight judicial activism and to demand an up-or-down vote on Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

“We are here to take a stand for our religious liberties and our religious freedoms. And they are under attack,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said at the beginning of the rally, dubbed “Justice Sunday III: Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land.”

The rally took place at Greater Exodus Baptist Church — a predominantly black congregation in the city — and brought together black and white leaders within the pro-family movement. At one point, Alveda C. King, niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., led the audience in singing “We shall overcome,” the popular civil rights anthem of the 1960s. The rally was broadcast to churches and individuals nationwide via Christian television and radio, and also was simulcast on the Internet.

“We will not go down without a fight,” Greater Exodus pastor Herbert Lusk said to applause. “We are against the redefinition of marriage, we are against abortion, we are against partial [birth] abortion and we are against Christian bashing.”

Speakers urged Christians to call their senators and insist on an up-or-down vote on Alito. Some Democrats have said a filibuster is possible.

Perkins pointed to three cases from the past year as examples of religious liberty under attack:

— In June 2005, the Supreme Court ordered the removal of Ten Commandments displays in two Kentucky courthouses.

— In September, a federal judge in California ruled that public school students could not be led in the Pledge of Allegiance if it contained the phrase “one nation under God.”

— In November, a federal judge issued an order preventing ministers and other persons from invoking Christ’s name during prayers at the beginning of Indiana legislative sessions.

Sen. Rick Santorum, R.-Pa., pointed to the religious freedom guaranteed in the Constitution and championed by America’s founders.

“That freedom is at risk today because of the actions of liberal activist judges on the Supreme Court,” Santorum said.

Even Thomas Jefferson, the drafter of the Declaration of Independence, had concerns about the power of judges, Santorum said, quoting Jefferson as saying: “The germ of destruction of our nation is in the power of the judiciary.”

“We’ve seen Jefferson’s fears come true, with extreme liberal judges destroying traditional morality, creating a new moral code and prohibiting any dissent,” Santorum said. “The Supreme Court has become the supreme branch of the government, imposing its unrestrained will on all of the people.

“… The only way to restore this republic our founders envisioned is to elevate honorable jurists like Samuel Alito who want to replace the hubris of this court with humility and respect for the common sense of the American people.”

The program included video clips of Perkins in front of various historical landmarks in Philadelphia. At one point he was seen standing outside the building which houses the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell, Perkins noted, includes words from Leviticus 25:10. The bell first rang to celebrate American Independence on July 8, 1776.

“Left unchallenged, the courts may someday decide to take ‘proclaim liberty throughout the land’ from the Liberty Bell, just because it has its origins in Scripture,” he said.

Focus on the Family’s James Dobson called the effort to get Alito confirmed “one of the most important issues that has occurred … in recent history because of the issue of judicial tyranny.”

Dobson asked the audience a series of questions, and each time elicited a loud “yes!”

“Do you believe that school children should be able to read the Bible in school? Do you believe that school children should be able to pray in school? Do you believe that there should be prayer at graduation activities and sporting events? … Do you believe that every child in this country should be able to … say the Pledge of Allegiance with ‘under God’ included?”

Dobson concluded: “The American people do not want what the court has done to them.”

The Supreme Court, Dobson said, will in the near future consider the “Nazi-esque procedure” of partial-birth abortion and the issue of “gay marriage.” Partial-birth abortion is a grisly procedure in which a doctor delivers an intact baby, feet first, until only the head is left in the birth canal. The doctor pierces the base of the infant’s skull with surgical scissors, then inserts a catheter into the opening and suctions out the brain, killing the child. It often is performed on babies who could survive outside the womb.

Wellington Boone, bishop of The Father’s House in Atlanta, said abortion is not “a white man’s issue.” Boone, who is black, dismissed criticism that Alito would roll back civil rights if confirmed.

“Have you read his record? Have you looked at what he’s done?” Boone asked, challenging people to learn about Alito on their own. “If you haven’t done your research, [then] stop looking to man and look to God, and stand up now and be the people God’s called you to be.”

Jerry Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., said Alito’s confirmation could be pivotal in the history of the pro-family movement.

“What we’ve worked on for 30 years — to mobilize people of faith and values in this country … is coming to culmination, to consummation, right now,” Falwell said. “… There could be a reconstruction of the U.S. Supreme Court in our immediate lifetime. What a wonderful thing that would be.”
A DVD of Justice Sunday III can be ordered online at www.justicesunday.com. A transcript of the event also is available on the website.

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust