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RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR.: Advise and consent should not become a religious test

Updated October 6, 2020 - 9:51 pm

And now for something you may not expect to hear from a Never Trumper who supports a woman’s right to control her own body.

Welcome to the crucifixion of Amy Coney Barrett. Brought to us by Democrats, who like to market themselves as the party of tolerance.

Sure, I’m pro-choice. But I’m also pro-fairness, pro-common sense and pro-process. Also put me down as pro-U.S. Constitution. Article VI, Clause 3 of our founding document states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Barrett’s critics essentially have a religious test, and they say the graduate of Notre Dame Law School failed. Why? Not because she is not religious enough, but because she is too religious.

That’s the point Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., drove home during Barrett’s confirmation hearing for the U.S. Court of Appeals. The senator told the Catholic jurist: “The dogma lives loudly within you.”

America’s political parties have their ugly sides. Republicans have an extreme right wing that is fluent in racism and nativism. It’s full of folks who believe that this has always been — and should remain — a country run by white people.

Likewise, Democrats have an extreme left wing that is steeped in secularism. It’s dominated by folks who are hostile to religion and poised to attack those who take it seriously.

However, before they pounce on Barrett, if they themselves want to be taken seriously, Democrats have a bushel of contradictions to sort out.

About passion: When those on the Left feel strongly about racial equality, they’re revered as social justice warriors who want to make society better. But when those on the Right feel strongly about their faith, they are quickly dismissed as religious zealots who want to make people’s lives worse.

About diversity: Some Democrats complain that President Donald Trump chose Barrett only because she is a woman, which makes sense because she is replacing a Supreme Court justice who was only the second woman in U.S. history to hold the title. But the Democrats’ argument against picking someone based on their gender would carry more weight if it wasn’t coming from the same folks who gave us affirmative action and identity politics.

About religion: It’s odd to hear Democrats express skepticism that a Republican can keep her religious beliefs out of the public arena when, just 60 years ago, the Democratic nominee for president, John F. Kennedy, had to reassure Republicans that he would do the same with his Catholicism.

Since then, we’ve seen a long list of Democratic elected officials — such as former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo — who were Catholic but pro-choice on abortion. We were assured that those officials could separate their Catholicism from their public duties. And Republican officials can’t do that?

We can expect the Democratic secularists to be fanatical in their opposition to Barrett. They’re going to try to burn at the stake this intelligent, accomplished and generally well-regarded working mother of seven children — one with special needs and two adopted from Haiti.

And we know what comes next. In a repeat of what happened after their unsuccessful attempt to destroy the life and reputation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Barrett’s persecutors will set the Democratic Party on fire. They’re going to show millions of everyday Americans who have more faith in their religion than they do in their government just how far out of step the modern Democratic Party is with the population.

And in doing so, Democrats will reduce to ashes Joe Biden’s presidential aspirations, which ironically would keep Democrats from getting the power to nominate Supreme Court justices of their own. Why lose a little when you can lose it all?

Take it from a lapsed Catholic: Just because you leave the church doesn’t mean it leaves you. I get my hackles up when someone — let alone a member of the U.S. Senate — twists the mysteries and peculiarities of my faith to pummel Catholic officials whose politics they disagree with. It’s cheap bigotry.

Some of Barrett’s critics note she belongs to People of Praise, a group they say falls outside “mainstream” Catholicism. Of course, for centuries, some have accused Catholicism — with its rituals and saints and arcane rules about priests being male and celibate — of being outside mainstream Christianity.

Barrett’s detractors are free to attack her over how she reads the law — but not for how she reads her Bible.

Ruben Navarrette’s email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

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