NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Hoping to highlight decades of socially liberal court rulings in light of a Supreme Court vacancy, pro-family leaders will gather in Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 14 for “Justice Sunday II,” an event that will originate from a local megachurch but will be broadcast to other churches nationwide.
The rally will begin at 7 p.m. ET at Two Rivers Baptist Church and take place less than one month before Supreme Court nominee John Roberts’ confirmation hearings are set to begin on Sept. 6.
But Justice Sunday organizers say the event is not focused on Roberts.
“This simulcast is not designed to give support for Judge Roberts,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told reporters during a conference call Aug. 12. “This is not a Judge Roberts rally. What it is is a program designed to bring greater awareness within the Christian community of the impact that the court has had upon this nation.”
Pro-family leaders point to court rulings that have legalized abortion, ordered the removal of Ten Commandments plaques and banned prayer in public settings. They fear that a “gay marriage” case could be around the corner.
Sky Angel, Bott Radio Network and American Family Radio are scheduled to broadcast the event live, while Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) is scheduled to carry it on tape-delay at 10 p.m. Eastern. FamilyNet TV will carry it one week later, Aug. 21, at 6 p.m. Eastern.
It also can be viewed live online by registering at www.justicesunday.com.
Scheduled speakers include Perkins, Focus on the Family President Jim Daly and founder James Dobson, Chuck Colson, former Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) and current House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).
“Many Americans” Perkins said, “are concerned about the direction that the court has taken this country and the impact that it’s had on the culture.”
Perkins deflected criticism from those who say churches should not be involved in the event because of possible concerns over “separation of church and state.”
“[I]f you go back in the history of our country, many, many community meetings were held in churches where people talked about the issue. That’s what we’re doing. … It just so happens that we’re not doing it just within one church, but from one church we’re communicating to hundreds of churches across the country.
“Those who are trying to raise those issues of separation of church and state simply want to silence the voice of certain Christians in this country, and that’s absolutely wrong.”
Moderate and liberal religious leaders held a conference call Thursday criticizing the event. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of the Churches USA, was quoted in the Associated Press as saying it is “entirely inappropriate to assume that a person’s ideology is a barometer of their personal faith.” Edgar is a former Democrat Congressman.
Perkins, though, said such criticism is unfounded.
“We have never claimed, nor will we claim, that we speak for all people of faith,” Perkins said. “But we certainly speak for a large percentage of those people who agree with us, who are concerned about the direction of this country and concerned about activist judges.”
He said he believes it’s “just a matter of time” before the Supreme Court takes up a case regarding “gay marriage” legalization. Such a case only magnifies the importance of who sits on the court, Perkins said.
“Will we have an activist court that chooses to impose a public policy of same-sex marriage on the country … or will we will have a court that is dominated by those who understand the boundaries of the court and the authority granted to the legislative branch?” he asked.
Perkins also said he isn’t concerned that John Roberts is a stealth liberal nominee similar to David Souter, who was nominated by the first President Bush but has become part of the court’s left-leaning wing.
“There seems to be a lot more information available from Judge Roberts than there was from Judge Souter,” Perkins said. “I know there’s been some comparisons made that he could be another Souter … [But] we know a lot more about him than we did Souter.”
“… Now, while we can’t really tell where he stands personally on the issues, that’s of secondary concern to us. Our primary concern is the type of judicial philosophy that he has embraced.”
Roberts “understands the role of the court” and doesn’t believe the court should “create law” and “legislate” from the bench, Perkins said. Roberts also is a constitutional “originalist” and doesn’t view the Constitution as “a living, breathing document that can be expanded as Silly Putty to embrace anything [justices] want it to.”