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Letters to the Editor

Faith and governance: Where's the line?

| Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2003

There has been some uproar about a recent commercial accusing Democrats of blocking Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor's nomination to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because he is a practicing Catholic.

The commercial shows a sign on the courthouse doors that says "Catholics Need Not Apply" -- an obvious reference to the "Irish Need Not Apply" signs that were common in 19th-century anti-Catholic America.

There are those like Oren Spiegler ("Unsavory GOP Tactics," Aug. 3), who deplores the commercial as "seeking to hoodwink impressionable Americans into believing something that is not true." Were it only so!

The accusation that the pro-abortion Democratic Party is anti-Catholic became inevitable once it began to consider conservative ideology and, specifically, pro-life sentiments as fair game in confirming federal judges.

The problem for Democrats is that political ideology and pro-life sentiments are specific applications of a person's worldview, which is generally based on religious belief. Thus, Democrats not only want strict separation between church and state, they want individuals to separate themselves into public and private persons.

They want a country where the religious private person (the Catholic) has no influence on the secular public person (the appeals judge). For the devout Catholic (or, in general, the devout Christian), such a separation is impossible.

Maybe a more accurate sign on the courthouse doors in that commercial should have been "If you apply, check your Catholicism at the door." But "Catholics Need Not Apply" communicates the intent, which is that Democrats don't trust qualified people with strong religious belief to serve as federal judges.

Paul E. Cantonwine Upper St. Clair

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