The Return of the “Deeply Held Beliefs” Defense

The Religious Right has spent the last several months savaging Barack Obama and his Christian faith, calling it everything from “deceitful,” to “woefully deficient,” to outright “phony.” They have gone over the tenets of his faith with a fine-toothed comb and demanded that he sit down with them and explain, in depth, his Christian beliefs and how they influence his political positions. 

But now that Sarah Palin has emerged on the scene, they have suddenly dusted off their age-old complaint that questions about a candidate’s faith and “deeply held beliefs” are off-limits and that any such inquiry is a sign of anti-Christian bigotry

Governor Sarah Palin is undergoing increasing scrutiny by those aiming to use her church and religious beliefs as a weapon against her. Over the weekend, a biased Associated Press article attacked her church for promoting Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out” conference which will be held this Saturday in Anchorage. The conference will teach a biblical message on sexuality and assist those seeking to overcome same-sex attractions. We can probably expect more attacks of this nature. How the McCain campaign responds is critical in maintaining the intensity and enthusiasm that swept through social conservatives after Gov. Palin’s selection as the VP nominee. In the past, there has been an overwhelming public backlash against those seeking to impose a religious litmus test on candidates and judicial nominees. Several years ago, Senator Schumer (D-NY) experienced this backlash when he attacked judicial nominees for holding “deeply held personal beliefs.” The McCain campaign must stand firmly against efforts to make Gov. Palin’s faith a disqualifier. There should be no reluctance in any party to be identified as someone who holds “deeply held personal beliefs.”

If FRC really is so upset about people trying to use a candidate’s “church and religious beliefs as a weapon” against them, maybe they should take it up with James Dobson and Focus on the Family.