In Telecast, Frist Defends His Effort to Stop Filibusters. James Dobson says Supreme Court "unaccountable," "out of control," & a despotic oligarchy.
In a short videotaped statement included in the telecast, which was called Justice Sunday and emanated from a packed Baptist mega-church here, Dr. Frist, the Senate majority leader, neither referred to religious faith nor addressed criticism that the event was inappropriately dragging religion into a partisan battle.
About 2,000 people packed into the Highview Baptist Church here for the telecast, and organizers said it was broadcast to several hundred churches by satellite, thousands of people over the Internet and 61 million households over Christian radio and television stations.
Liberal groups, meanwhile, stepped up their attacks on both Dr. Frist and the proposed rule change. About 1,200 liberal Christians gathered at a rally at a Presbyterian church here to protest what one speaker, the left-leaning evangelical Jim Wallis, called "a declaration of a religious war" and "an attempt to hijack religion."
Separately, MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group, said it was paying $700,000 for television commercials attacking the rule change, including some depicting a herd of Republican elephants trampling Congress.
Dr. James Dobson, founder of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, whose political sister group was a sponsor of the event, defended Mr. DeLay and his attacks on the judiciary, calling the Supreme Court "unaccountable," "out of control," and a despotic oligarchy.
Dr. Dobson accused the justices of "a campaign to limit religious liberty" through 40 years of decisions limiting publicly supported expressions of religion. The founding fathers, he said, intended for the president and Congress to "check the judiciary and it hasn't done it," he said.
"You have a court that is out of control," Dr. Dobson said.
One Republican senator, however, distanced himself from the telecast as well as the attacks on the judiciary. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who supports changing the confirmation process, said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday" that the groups behind the telecast should "not to go down the road of saying that the Democratic senators are not people of faith or questioning their religious - that they're religious bigots."
"I don't think that helps the country," he said, "and I don't think that's fair."
(4-25-05, The New York Times.)