GOP's `Christian nation'
By Cathy Young
AFTER A SHORT respite from the fight over the Pledge of Allegiance, the Republican Party has once again thrown itself into the fray over issues of church and state. This time it's the Republican Party of Texas, President Bush's home state, which has approved a plank in its platform affirming that "the United States of America is a Christian nation."
The plank, which also pooh-poohs "the myth of the separation of church and state," has elicited protests from Jewish groups. So far, however, it has not been rejected by the national Republican Party. This is in contrast to a similar flap in 1992: A statement by then-Mississippi Governor Kirk Fordice at a Republican governors' convention that "the United States is a Christian nation" was met with rebukes from leading Republicans, and Fordice eventually had to apologize.
True, the Texas Republican Party's plank also includes the "Judeo-Christian" formula that the national Republican leadership defended in 1992 ("our nation was founded on fundamental Judeo-Christian principles based on the Holy Bible"). But the affirmation of Christianity as the core of the American spirit rings far louder than the small nod to the Jewish heritage.
Some conservatives in the media have not merely refused to criticize the "Christian nation" plank but rallied to its defense. Interviewing Texas Republican Party chairwoman Tina Berkiser, the Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly described the plank as "largely symbolic" response to secularist activists and judges who would throw God out of the public square. On another Fox News show, "Hannity & Colmes," guest host Mike Gallagher suggested that objections to the plank stemmed from anti-Christian "bigotry."