8.30.2005

Judge Roberts Would Tear Down 'The Wall'

Watchdog Group Says Roberts Would Dismantle Church-State Separation

from Religion News Service

Washington - A leading church-state watchdog group said Monday that Judge John Roberts would allow public life "to be hijacked by those with a religious agenda" if he is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State said Roberts' judicial philosophy - gleaned from legal briefs he wrote in the Reagan administration - would throw church-state case law into "disarray."

"He has been a faithful soldier in the far right's campaign to roll back the church-state safeguards protecting all Americans, especially religious minorities," said the group's director, the Rev. Barry Lynn.

Lynn's 19-page report said Roberts would overturn a 1971 Supreme Court standard that prohibits state-sponsored activity that has a primarily religious purpose. In its place, Roberts would allow such activity as long as people are not "coerced" into participating, AU said.

The result would be government officials delivering prayers at civic ceremonies, allowing religious symbols such as the Ten Commandments to be displayed in all public buildings and permitting government to be used for religious programs, the report said.

That will be dangerous for non-Christian minorities, the report said. "One may assume that the prayers that get said, the displays that get erected, and the organizations that get funded will, in the vast majority of cases, reflect certain Christian traditions or beliefs," the report said.

Allowing Roberts on the court would result in "further erosion of the wall that separates church and state." Lynn, in a statement, added: "I understand why Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson support Roberts' confirmation. I don't understand why anyone else would."

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