Religion in Society

Rep. Diana DeGette Pushes Radical, Anti-Religious Agenda

| by FRC

(Ed's. Note: One day after publishing this story, the FRC issued a correction. It appears at bottom.)

WASHINGTON -- Family Research Council President Tony Perkins today called on President Obama and Congressional leaders to repudiate comments made by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) to The Hill's Michael O'Brien that "religiously-affiliated groups...should be shut out of the process" in the health care debate because of their support for the Stupak/Pitts amendment. She told The Hill, "Last I heard, we had separation of church and state in this country," she said. "I've got to say that I think the Catholic bishops and all of the other groups shouldn't have input."

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made the following comments:

"Rep. DeGette's comments are stunning. According to her, if a group of people who are in association with one another because of their Christian faith, they should not have a voice in the crafting of public policy. What she is asserting is that if your ideas and actions are a product of your faith, you're a second class citizen and your voice should not be heard.

"Additionally, Rep. DeGette's hypocrisy on this matter is breathtaking. In a speech given at her alma mater, Colorado College, she speaks of her involvement with the liberal Faith and Politics Institute ( Apparently, in her view, it's OK to be involved in politics and have religious faith - but only as long as you agree with her.

"I am sure the Founders never envisioned elected Representatives which would not have a grasp of the most basic concepts of the Constitution. It may be time for an amendment requiring members of Congress to take a basic proficiency test on at least the Bill of Rights.

"Her religious bigotry is a far cry from what the Founders believed. Several months after the British surrender at Yorktown, George Washington, in a letter to the Reformed German Congregation of New York, wrote, 'The establishment of civil and religious liberty was the motive which induced me to the field (of combat).' Sadly, Diana DeGette seems eager to smother these precious freedoms, neither of which can exist without the other.

"Rep. DeGette's comments serve to only further confirm that this takeover is not about health care, it is about a radical social policy in which the expansion of abortion, at taxpayer expense, is at the very center of this effort.

"I call on President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Harry Reid to immediately repudiate this religious bigotry and reaffirm the Constitutional right of all Americans including people of faith to participate in this critical debate.

"Congresswoman DeGette's personal convictions, informed by her view of God, human dignity and personal liberty, inform her public actions. So do ours. People of faith and their representatives have every right, and even a moral duty, to petition their government for a redress of grievances."

FRC Issues Correction: Diana DeGette Says Allow Input of Religious Groups But Accuses Groups of Violating 'Separation of Church and State'

11/18/2009 CORRECTION:
Family Research Council yesterday responded to a quote attributed to U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) by The Hill to the effect that Catholic Bishops and other conservative Christians should not have input in public policy debates. The Hill now reports that it inaccurately quoted the Congresswoman's ABC News interview and that she said Christian groups should have input.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made the following comments:

"We are pleased by this clarification and gratified that Rep. DeGette is not opposed to people of faith participating in the political process.

"However, Rep. DeGette accused the Catholic Bishops of controlling the outcome of the health care legislation and also accused them and other conservative Christians of violating the 'wall of separation' between church and state.

"Rep. DeGette is frustrated that her efforts to have the federal government pay for or at least subsidize abortion were thwarted by the Stupak-Pitts amendment. Anyone who has ever suffered legislative setbacks, as the pro-life movement has many times, understands this frustration. But what is unacceptable is the targeting by her of religious groups.

"Moreover, according to Zogby International, more than 70 percent of the American people have expressed their opposition to federal funding of abortion. That includes both religious and non-religious Americans, something advocates of federal financing of abortion on demand should find sobering.

"As to the substance of Rep. DeGette's criticisms, neither the Bishops, the Catholic Church generally nor Evangelical Protestants are breaching any 'wall.' They are not controlling anything nor are they asking any American to accept a specific doctrinal statement. They are not asking for the federal government to endorse their denominations. They are simply participating in the American political process, employing their rights of free speech and religion as our Founders envisioned.

"One of the signers of our Declaration of Independence was Charles Carroll, a Catholic Marylander who believed deeply in both the American Republic and the religious liberty it ensures. In 1827, near the end of his long life, he wrote, 'To obtain religious and civil liberty, I entered zealously into the Revolution ... God grant that this religious liberty ... be preserved to the end of time.'

"We at the Family Research Council respectfully would ask Rep. DeGette to ponder Charles Carroll's wise words, and reflect on her aggravation with people of faith in the public square. We're not going away, and as this reality settles in perhaps her aggravation, and public hostility, will become less pronounced."