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New McCarthyism

Careful reading of the leaders of the evangelical movement reveals nothing paralleling the level of hate and anger coming from Senate Democrats

Issue: "Rick Santorum: Penn Station," April 30, 2005

"Loonies," "the American Taliban," "Frist Jihadists," "the Ayatollah bin Dobson"-all these terms and more were thrown at evangelical Christians last week as the controversy surrounding the abuse of the filibuster by Senate Democrats grew in scope and volume.

Any regular visitor to leftist blogs such as DailyKos and Legal Fiction is accustomed to the brass-knuckled bigotry directed at Christians who also happen to be conservative. In fact, the posts at DemocraticUnderground are even more vituperative. Many media and political circles are showing a rise in Christian-bashing.

Some on the left might say that evangelicals deserve this abuse given their own harsh rhetoric, but careful reading of the leaders of the evangelical movement reveals nothing paralleling this level of hate and anger. It is certainly true that evangelical leaders typically oppose same-sex marriage and demand an end to filibusters of people of faith like Judge William Pryor-a devout Catholic whom Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) found unsupportable because of Mr. Pryor's "deeply held beliefs." Evangelical leaders also support care for the very young and the very old, and urge robust participation in public affairs by people of faith. But they do not engage in personal attacks that equate their opponents with terrorists or jihadists.

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Appearing on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos on April 18, Sen. Schumer took aim at Christian political activists and asserted that "[s]omething is in the air. That something is wrong, different than the traditions of America."

If Mr. Schumer meant the hate-filled rhetoric of the hard left of the Democratic Party, he is absolutely correct, and he should direct those in his party's faithful to cease the abuse and the threats.

But if he meant that it is wrong and outside the traditions of American political activity for people who take their faith seriously to have that faith guide them in their political activity, then he is wrong, and not just wrong, but ignorant of the legacies of leaders like Martin Luther King, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, John Adams, George Washington, and John Woolman, to mention but a few of the millions for whom a faith-based politics was an undeniable reality.

The right of people of faith to participate in politics must be defended, and the new McCarthyism that seeks their expulsion from the public square wholly and emphatically rejected.

Read more from Hugh Hewitt in his book: In, But Not Of available from God's World Book Club.

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