House Republican Conference Committee Issue Brief June 29, 1994 The Clinton Democrats' Att
House Republican Conference Committee
June 29, 1994
The Clinton Democrats' Attack on Religion
"While this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of
suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be
again, a Jew or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist ... Today I may
be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you."
-- John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1960
Rep. Vic Fazio's (D-CA) recent tirade against religious conservatives
has highlighted the Clinton Democrats' raw antipathy for Christian
involvement in community and political discussions. Fazio, chairman of the
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, unleashed an attack on the
"fire-breathing Christian radical right:" Democrat consultant Mark
Mellman provided reinforcement, calling them, "card-carrying members of
the flat earth society." On the surface, these comments seem to be part
of a short-sighted political strategy to excite the hard core Democrat base
and split the GOP. However, when you look beyond the surface of the ill-
tempered remarks, you find a legislative and regulatory agenda that is
indeed hostile to religion and Americans with religious beliefs.
From Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders' well-documented remarks to the
EEOC's efforts to ban any and all religious symbols from the workplace,
people of faith have been met with general hostility from the Clinton
Administration and Democrat leadership. However, conservative people of
faith -- who have fought the President's more radical proposals -- have
drawn the Administration's most vitriolic language: one unidentified White
House official characterized their involvement as "a cancer in the
Republican Party." As Stephen L. Carter, a professor at Yale Law School,
observed, "there is much depressing evidence that the religious voice is
required to stay out of the public square only when it is pressed in a
Yet, who are the targets of the Clinton Democrats' attacks? As we
look at the Clinton Democrats' verbal assaults and their out-of-the-
mainstream agenda, it's important to understand the role of religion and
values in the everyday lives of the American people. This Issue Brief
* Clinton Democrats' verbal assault on religious conservatives.
* Poll results on religion in America -- who are the Clinton
* The Clinton Democrats' legislative and regulatory assault on
Clinton Democrats' Verbal Assault
Nursing wounds from a string of defeats at the federal, state, and
local levels, the Clinton Democrats are grasping for an issue to divert
attention from sagging polls and their out-of-the-mainstream agenda.
That issue, they hope, is conservative Christians' participation in the
political process. By demonizing religious conservatives, the Clinton
Democrats aim to stifle their participation in the political process,
while reinvigorating their own core of supporters. As Rep. Fazio said
during his Christian bashing press conference, "But the bottom line
here is we're going to be fighting very hard to hold our numbers, our
losses, down...Whether we can do so or not, I think, will be in part
determined by how energized our base is. And that's something we're
going to have to work very hard to accomplish in the next several
The Clinton Democrats are confident the media will bolster their
efforts; as one Democrat political strategist noted recently,
"reporters are instinctively opposed to these groups and by throwing a
little fuel on this fire we are doing ourselves a world of good."
The Clinton Democrats' intolerance harkens back to John F.
Kennedy's presidential campaign when he was attacked for his religious
beliefs. Although many believed that religious bigotry was put to rest
when Kennedy was elected president, epithets such as "fire-breathing
Christians" prove them wrong. As Sen. Bob Dole argued, "the essence
of democracy is participation, and using terms such as `fire-breathing
Christian radical right' to label Americans who go to church and go to
the polls ... only cheapens our democracy."
This assault is clearly a calculated one, over the past two weeks
the same message has been delivered by various Administration
"People come into the political system and they say that
anybody that [sic] doesn't agree with them is godless, anyone
who doesn't agree with them is not a good Christian, anyone
who doesn't agree with them is fair game for any wild charge,
no matter how false, for any kind of personal, demeaning
attack...I do not believe that people should be criticized
for their religious convictions, but neither do I believe
that people can put on the mantle of religion and then
justify anything they say or do."
-- President Bill Clinton
"There is a special place in hell waiting for Bob Winters."
-- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), referring to an opponent of the
President's health care plan
"We've got to be strong to take on those people [`the un-
Christian religious right'] who are selling our children out
in the name of religion."
-- Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders
"Ronald Reagan, who is a radical right Republican, did not
go to church and his wife was trying to run the country
-- Paul Begala, White House consultant
Rep. Vic Fazio (D-CA), as we noted above, recently labeled all
Christian conservatives as the "fire-breathing Christian radical
right." Fazio's language is alarming in itself -- yet even more so
in light of the fact that he voted against a House resolution
condemning a hate-filled speech earlier this year. Nation of
Islam's Khallid Abdul Mohammad, in a speech to a college audience,
launched an ugly attack on women, Jews, and Catholics. For example,
Mr. Mohammad ranted, "You see everybody always talk about Hitler
exterminating 6 million Jews...But don't nobody ever ask what they
did to Hitler...They went in there, in Germany, the way they do
everywhere they go, and they supplanted, they usurped, they turned
around, and a German, in his own country, would almost have to go to
a Jew to get money. They undermine the very fabric of the
society." Mohammad concluded the speech by saying, "Go to the
Vatican in Rome, when the old, no-good Pope, you know that cracker.
Somebody need to raise that dress up and see what's really under
there." Yet, when Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) offered a resolution
condemning the racist, anti-Catholic, homophobic, and anti-Semitic
speech, Rep. Vic Fazio (D-CA) voted `Present.'
On "Good Morning America," Clinton's key advisor Paul Begala
said, "Ronald Reagan, who is a radical right Republican, did not go
to church and his wife was trying to run the country through
astrology." If Begala says that Ronald Reagan is part of the
radical right, he should also point out that 60 percent of Americans
agreed with `the radical." Begala should also note that Reagan's
agenda to win the Cold War and foster economic opportunity brought
the United States the longest peacetime economic expansion in
Debunking The "Fire-Breathing" Myth
Just who are the Clinton Democrats attacking? Who are the people
who consider religion important? According to a recent poll, the
Clinton Democrats' attack is based on serious misconceptions. When
they attack religion, they reveal just how out of step with mainstream
America they are, because religion and values are important to the vast
majority of Americans. The Tarrance Group conducted a nationwide poll
of voter attitudes on religion on March 5-7. Here are some of the
A majority (62 percent) assert that religion is increasing its
influence in their lives, and 90 percent identify themselves as
being part of an organized religion.
"Fully 90 percent of voters argue that "values in America have been
Eighty-five percent of the American electorate agree that the
"government would be better if it were more directed by moral
A convincing 84 percent of voters believe "we need to return to
traditional values," while only 10 percent disagree.
Eighty-eight percent of the electorate say that religious values
should play a role in everyday decisions.
Fully 70 percent of the voters assert that prohibiting religious
symbols, such as Nativity scenes or crucifixes, from being displayed
on public property would be "bad" for the country, with a majority
(50 percent) stating that it would be "one of the worst things that
Similarly, over 70 percent of the voters maintain that banning
prayers at school-related functions such as graduation, concerts and
sports activities, would be a bad thing, and over half (51 percent)
say it would be one of the worst things that could happen.
More than three of every four (77 percent) say that the President
should be a moral and spiritual leader for the country.
More voters consider Bill Clinton hostile to their moral values (34
percent) than either neutral (30 percent) or reflective (32 percent)
Three-in-ten Americans assert that the country is hostile to their
moral or spiritual values. The U.S. Congress (47 percent) and
newspapers (46 percent) are also more likely to be considered
hostile to their values.
The Clinton Democrats' Legislative and Regulatory Assault
Because the Democrats control both Congress and the White House,
their attack isn't just name calling, they have the sticks and stones
to back it up. The following sections outline the Clinton Democrats'
attack both on religion itself and on those who value religion in their
The Clinton Administration is pushing for regulations to ban all
religious expression in the workplace. Late last year, the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission, led by Clinton's Chairman-
designee Tony Gallegos, proposed guidelines covering workplace
harassment based on race, religion, national origin, gender, age or
disability. However, the guidelines for religious harassment were
so broadly written that they could lead employers to ban employees
from displaying even the simplest expressions of their religion --
such as wearing a cross or bringing a Bible to work. Indeed, an
employer could conclude that the slightest religious reference or
smallest religious symbol, is offensive to a single employee, and
therefore must be eliminated from the workplace. Christian leaders
joined the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Jewish
Congress in protest of the EEOC's guidelines because the regulations
infringe on workers' First Amendment rights of free speech and free
expression of religion.
The EEOC reports it has received more than 106,000 letters
protesting the policy -- during the past few weeks alone.
Similarly, House Members have received hundreds or even thousands of
letters opposing the EEOC's policy. On June 28, the House rebuked
the EEOC by voting (366-37) to forbid federal funds from being used
to enforce the EEOC's policy on religious harassment. The EEOC is
now adopting language to make sure that "the commission is not
going to abridge religious expression in the workplace."
At the same time the EEOC is promoting regulations to suppress
religious expression, the Office of Personnel Management circulated
a June 16 memo to all employees informing them that OPM will
"observe Gay and Lesbian Pride Month during June 1994...Activities
scheduled during the month focus on gay issues in the workplace and
gays, lesbians and bisexuals in American and world history.."
OPM employees were "encouraged to participate" in various
activities, including viewing a screening of "homophobia in the
Workplace" and a "pictorial display in the OPM lobby depicting
gays and lesbians in American and World History." The memo
concluded by noting, "Washington, D.C. area employees stationed
outside the Theodore Roosevelt Building may be reimbursed by their
offices for transportation to attend these events."
HUD regulations ban religious symbols in advertisements. The
Clinton Administration wants to ban any religious symbols used by
housing providers in advertisements on the ground that the ads might
discriminate against non-religious people. Roberta Achtenberg,
Clinton's Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
at HUD, has pressured Yellow Pages producers to force nursing homes
that advertise with religious symbols to drop those symbols in their
Yellow Pages listings. For example, near St. Cloud, Minnesota, a
Roman Catholic nursing home called St. Benedict's Center has a logo
of a symbol with a cross. The home used the logo in its
advertisement in the Yellow Pages, but was asked by the Yellow Pages
producer -- US West -- to delete the logo from the ad. St.
Benedict's was also forced to alter its motto, which had been
"spiritual care for all faiths."
Yellow Pages industry sources reported that HUD had investigated
three publishers, including US West, and counseled them against
allowing religious symbols in advertising. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-
MD) wrote to HUD Secretary Cisneros, objecting to the policy,
"Prohibiting religious groups from using religious symbols in
advertising nursing home care would not prevent discrimination; it
would arguably interfere with the free exercise of religion." The
HUD initiative epitomizes Assistant Secretary Achtenberg's agenda,
most of which is inimical to the beliefs of mainstream Americans.
Clinton's health care plan mandates abortion coverage. President
Clinton's health care plan mandates abortion coverage, meaning that
people opposed to abortion as a matter of faith must subsidize
abortion through their premiums and the government's subsidies. All
employers, even the Catholic Conference and the Christian Coalition,
will be required to pay premiums for health plans that include
abortion services. Moreover, the President's "conscience clause"
-- which exempts doctors and hospitals from performing an abortion
if they are morally opposed to it -- does not apply to health plans.
So, although a Catholic hospital may not have to perform abortions,
it does have to buy health plans that cover abortions and pay for
that coverage. (At the same time, treatment for children born with
congenital birth defects such as spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, or
cerebral palsy is limited to only 60 days.) The Clinton plan forces
those who oppose abortion to subsidize a practice that they strongly
oppose. Even Americans who are pro-choice tend to agree that people
who oppose abortion shouldn't be forced to pay for them.
Clinton endorses Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders' vitriolic
statements. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders has attacked religious
conservatives and the Catholic Church, advocated sex education for
elementary school children, promoted condom distribution in schools
without parental notification, and supported tax-funded Norplant
contraception for prostitutes. Yet despite her outrageous stances,
President Clinton refuses to ask for her resignation. Rather, when
asked earlier this month if there had been any "fallout" at the
White House, the Surgeon General replied, "No. None. I saw
[Clinton] recently and he congratulated me on what I've been doing.
He said, `I keep up with you by everywhere you go and what you've
been doing...I love it.'"
As Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) noted, "the fact that she remains in
office today speaks volumes about the ideology of the man who
appointed her." A June 29 USA Today article reported that despite
mounting criticism of the Surgeon General, she "enjoys Clinton's
unstinting support." Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), in a letter to the
President asking for Elders' resignation, wrote, "This abuse of the
office of Surgeon General must stop. The office should be used to
fight sickness and disease, not parents and churches." The letter
was signed by 78 Republican House Members. However, the call for
Elder's resignation is also receiving bipartisan support: Reps.
Scott Baesler (D-KY) and Tom Barlow (D-KY) became the first
Democrats in Congress to call for Elders to go. Rep. Baesler
criticized her "radical statements that infuriate and go against
the sensibilities of the people." The following list outlines some
of Surgeon General Elders' more outrageous statements.
-- Dr. Elders attacked what she called the "un-Christian
religious right" for its opposition to her proposals on sex and
AIDS education for public schools. "We've got to be strong to
take on those people who are selling our children out in the name
of religion," she told an audience at the Lesbian and Gay Health
-- In a December, 1993 Newsweek magazine, Elders, when asked
whether it was wrong to have a child out of wedlock -- responded,
"No. Everyone has different moral standards." Even liberal
columnist Joe Klein was forced to admit, "It is difficult to
imagine a more succinct statement of moral relativism."
-- Clinton's Surgeon General has condemned those who oppose
government funding of abortion on demand, saying that the 70
percent of Americans who share this view are trying to force
"slave-like" conditions on poor women. She has also instructed
those who morally oppose abortions to "get over their love affair
with the fetus."
-- The Surgeon General has suggested that one of the benefits of
legalized abortion is that it has reduced the number of Down
Syndrome children. Before the Senate Labor Committee on May 23,
1990, Dr. Elders said, "abortion has reduced the number of
children afflicted with severe defects. The number of Down
Syndrome infants in Washington state in 1976 was 64 percent lower
than it would have been without legal abortion."
-- Dr. Elders has stated that our public schools should provide
condoms -- on request and without parental notification -- to our
children, even elementary age school children. "We've taught
them what to do in the front seat [of a car]. Now it's time to
teach them what to do in the back seat." She has also made known
her beliefs on casual sex, as she told 60 Minutes, "I tell every
girl when she goes out on a date -- put a condom in her purse."
-- On CNBC's "Talk Live" Program on June 19, 1993, Dr. Elders
said, "I would hope that we would provide them [drug-abusing
prostitutes] Norplant, so they could still use sex if they must to
buy their drugs."
-- Dr. Elders has repeatedly made attacks on the Catholic church;
criticizing pro-lifers she said, "look who is fighting the pro-
choice movement -- a celibate, male-dominated church."
-- Dr. Elders has advocated a study of the legalization of
illicit drugs. Speaking before the National Press Club on
December 7, 1993, Elders said, "I do feel that we would markedly
reduce our crime rate if drugs were legalized. But I don't know
all of the ramifications of this. I do feel that we need to do
some studies." Bill Current, director of the American Council on
Drug Education, called the remarks, "socially irresponsible...
Legalization would only increase the crime rate." Condoning the
legalization of drugs outraged concerned parents and encouraged
drug users. As The San Diego Union Tribune reported, "marijuana
advocates are especially heartened by statements made by Dr.
-- The Clinton Administration supports court case that declares tithes
have "no value." A US Bankruptcy Trustee is suing the Crystal
Evangelical Free (CEF) Church of New Hope, Minnesota to recoup tithe
money that church members had given for 12 months prior to filing
for bankruptcy. The 20-year church members, Mr. and Mrs. Young,
found themselves in financial trouble after Mr. Young had a heart
attack, but continued their eight-year practice of tithing (making a
10 percent monetary offering at church) on a weekly basis.
Bankruptcy law allows an individual who is within 12 months of
bankruptcy to spend money on nearly anything -- travel, liquor,
casino gambling -- as long as there is "reasonable equivalent
value" for the money. Yet in this case, the Bankruptcy Court ruled
that the tithe was a "fraudulent" gift because the donors received
nothing of value. However, Christians believe there is "reasonable
equivalent value" for the tithe -- namely, spiritual growth and
personal and community benefits that emanate from altruism.
The Department of Justice, under Attorney General Janet Reno,
filed a brief in the case, asking the US 8th Circuit Court, where
the case is now under appeal, to uphold the lower court's ruling.
In its 50-page brief, the Department compared Mr. and Mrs. Young's
tithe to the ill-gotten gains of drug dealers -- asserting that they
both effectively elude creditors. At issue is the Court's and the
Justice Department's insistence that giving money to a church has no
value to the people who contribute. Christians tithe -- as the
Bible commands them to do -- in the belief that it will return
additional rewards on earth and in heaven. The Bankruptcy Court in
its summary judgment and the Department of Justice in its brief have
both essentially judged that the Young's sincerely held religious
belief regarding tithing is not valid. However, if the Youngs had
spent their money on liquor or casinos, the Court would have
considered the expenditures valid. The Court and the Clinton
Administration place no value on the spiritual benefits of tithing,
so the Church is forced to pay.
Clinton Democrats' push to regulate home schools. Rep. George
Miller (D-CA) offered an amendment to H.R. 6, the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act, which would have exposed parents who teach
their children at home to possible government licensing or control.
Many parents choose home schooling for religious reasons and to
avoid the radical curriculum taught in many public schools.
Miller's amendment would have prevented schools from assigning
teachers to subjects in which they have no training or
certification. Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX) corrected the problem with an
amendment banning federal control over private, religious or home
schools, while allowing them to participate in federal aid programs.
Protecting child pornographers. The Clinton Justice Department
sought to weaken child pornography laws, thus making it easier for
child pornographers to exploit children. The Department of Justice
filed a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Knox v.
U.S., which severely narrowed the standard of what constitutes child
pornography. The brief requires that nudity or "visibility" of
body parts is required. The previous policy required "sexually
explicit conduct" in recognition of the fact that children need not
be naked to be sexually exploited.
Attacks on traditional family lifestyles.
From gays in the military to immigration policies that give
preference to homosexuals, traditional family lifestyles are under
attack by the Clinton Administration. The Administration seems bent
on furthering its radical social agenda despite area experts'
opposition. Military leaders denounced Clinton's decision to admit
homosexuals in the armed services, fearing it could jeopardize the
military's readiness. The Federation for American Immigration
reform argues that the Justice Department's recent decision to give
preference to homosexuals seeking entry into the U.S. will open the
system to fraud and abuse. Nonetheless, Clinton continues his
Gays in the military. After three days in office, President Clinton
lifted the ban on homosexuals in the military. The President
insisted on lifting the military's ban on homosexuals -- a policy
opposed by 74 percent of enlistees -- despite the experts' united
opposition. When President Clinton met with his Joint Chiefs for
the first time in January, 1993, he made it clear that he was not
interested in discussing the wisdom of the plan, only the details of
how it should be carried out. "I intend to implement it," he
said. As Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) observed, "You would think that
someone who has not served a single day in uniform would be
particularly careful to consult his military experts."
Reno's orders give gays preference for immigration. Furthering the
Clintons' social agenda, Attorney General Janet Reno has decided to
give political asylum to foreign homosexuals seeking to immigrate to
the United States. U.S. immigration boards were instructed to adopt
a 1990 case of a Cuban refugee as precedent in all proceedings
involving homosexuals seeking asylum, thereby giving homosexuals
special treatment. This is unprecedented -- sexual orientation has
never been recognized as a social group. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL)
condemned the policy, saying it "opens wide a new field for fraud
and abuse of our nation's immigration laws by those wishing to enter
illegally." As an evidentiary matter, there is no way to prove a
person's sexual preference. Attorney General Reno has also waived
immigration law to allow foreigners with the AIDS virus into the
United States to participate in the Gay Games. Her decision flouts
the will of Congress and threatens the well-being of the American
people. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL)
denounced the Justice Department's actions as a "unilateral
circumvention of a policy that Congress approved, ...the American
people overwhelmingly support, ...and in complete disregard...of
public health." Waivers were intended only for exceptional
circumstances -- a standard hardly met by a sporting event.
The Clinton Democrats' attack on religion, while it appears to be
a political move to gin up their depressed base, is much more than
that. It is an extensive legislative and regulatory agenda, which many
Americans see as hostile to their moral and spiritual values. The
Democrat strategy: draw attention from Clinton's decline in the polls,
Whitewater, the sexual harassment lawsuit, the Democrats 0-for-9 record
in major elections, chaotic foreign policy, and Clinton's languishing
health care bill. As Charles Black notes, "This president is on the
defensive on every issue, including his pet health care, and they're
trying to change the subject."
The atmosphere of religious intolerance is most disturbing, even
more so in light of the fact that it is advanced by the President and
Democrat leadership. The President's stance on conservative people of
faith, as it is with most issues, runs the gamut. In a National
Journal article, the President announced, "I've been advocating for
nearly a decade now that there ought to be a set of civic values that
everybody can agree with that ought to be taught in our schools. You
just can't have a value-free society. You can't do it." However, it
is difficult to swallow the rhetoric when the Administration has been
pushing extremely liberal policies. Many people see the Clinton
Administration trying to appease pro-family forces with reassuring
rhetoric while actively promoting a radical social agenda. It is also
interesting to note the unmistakable strain of elitism running through
the Clinton Democrats' rhetoric. One liberal commentator betrayed this
sentiment when he referred to these Christian conservatives as "Wal-
When asked to address Rep. Fazio's comments, the President refused
to repudiate the comments, and said, "people come into the political
system and they say that anybody that [sic] doesn't agree with them is
godless, anyone who doesn't agree with them is not a good Christian,
anyone who doesn't agree with them is fair game for any wild charge, no
matter how false, for any kind of personal, demeaning attack."
President Clinton may want to talk to Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV),
who has said that there is a "special place in hell" reserved for one
opponent of the President's plan.
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