I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. The same kind of folks who professed to find a non-existent right to abortion on demand in the Constitution have "discovered" another imaginary constitutional provision. According to its editorial this morning:
"The First Amendment, with its injunction that Congress shall make no law restricting religion, carries an implied corollary that churches should not meddle in politics."
The context was the Globe's complaint that Mitt Romney is reaching out for support to his fellow BYU alums who - oh, the horror! - also happen to be his Mormon co-religionists. The Globe sternly warns Romney to "make sure that the church stays out of his nascent presidential campaign."
Let's start by making clear the Globe's profound misreading of the Constitution. The Establishment clause is a two-part provision. On the one hand, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." The Founders wanted to ensure that there would be no state church comparable to the Church of England, from which most of them had come. But that same First Amendment equally prohibits Congress from "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion. And part of that freedom is the right to engage in the give-and-take of democracy.
But perhaps even more stunning than the Globe's misreading of our founding document is the paper's hypocrisy. Let's review some other examples of religious involvement in the public square:
- The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., whose civil rights organization was the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King described SCLC as "church-oriented because of the very structure" of the black community in the South."
- The Reverend Jesse Jackson, presidential candidate.
- The Reverend Al Sharpton, candidate for president and a number of state offices.
- Black churches and ministers nationwide, traditionally a mainstay of Democrat GOTV efforts.
- Then there's this article, Democratic Hopefuls Find Religion on Campaign Trail, which among other things documents the way that Dem senatorial candidate Harold Ford, Jr. has "filmed a campaign commercial in his childhood church, with a large white cross looming over his right shoulder." YouTube of Ford ad here.
- The liberal mainline Protestant denominations, which have become active extensions of the left-wing of the DNC. It was the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), for example, that recently published a book claiming 9-11 was orchestrated by the U.S. government.
If the Globe has ever editorialized about the need for these religious folks to "stay out" of politics, it's news to me.