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Does Obama Walk the Walk When It Comes to Christians and Jews?

President Obama is big on civility. He talks a very good game. But his nominee for a top slot at the Department of Justice--Dawn Johnsen--is a leading exponent of incivility. Johnsen worked with the ACLU for years. And she joined ARM--the so-called Abortion Rights Mobilization--to strip the Catholic Church of its tax-exempt status because of its pro-life advocacy. The Catholic Church eventually won that case--but not until it had spent years and millions of dollars defending itself. The Catholic Church was just the biggest ARM target. If they had succeeded against the Catholics, they surely would have come after the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Association of Evangelicals, and The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.

If Mr. Obama is serious about civility he needs to withdraw Dawn Johnsen’s nomination. If she is confirmed, we will see a radical anti-Catholic, pro-abortion zealot influencing policy thoughout the Justice Department—but also policy throughout the entire federal government.

What we are witnessing right now is an anti-Christian programmatic pogrom. What is a “pogrom” it’s the word that describes anti-Jewish raids by Cossacks and others in czarist Russia, but a programmatic pogrom best describes what is happening right now. These are not isolated attacks. And while we no longer have Cossacks to threaten, we now have left-wing bloggers who actually call themselves Kossacks (after the Daily Kos).

In North Carolina, the Catholic college Belmont Abbey, is threatened with closure for its refusal to dispense contraceptives. Radicals are not impressed with the college president’s response: We don’t give contraceptives to female staffers--or to the monks! In this case, the local branch of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission smells discrimination.

In Washington, President Obama’s nominee to the federal EEOC, Prof. Chai Feldblum of Georgetown University, is blunt: If there’s a clash between the gay agenda and religious liberty, your liberties lose. If confirmed, she would be in position to pursue the pogrom nationwide.

On the West Coast, the Christian Legal Society (CLS) is under assault from the Hastings Law Center of the University of California. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Christian Legal Society v. Martinez this term. Radicals are trying to force CLS to accept officers who are openly homosexual. David French, speaking for the pro-family Alliance Defense Fund, says:

“The Left is trying to create a right that destroys a right. As of now, there is simply no widely recognized right of private citizens to join any private expressive association they want to join — regardless of their belief or conduct. In fact, even in the campus environment, only the courts of the Ninth Circuit have forcibly opened private associations to non-adherents.” 

Creating rights to destroy rights. That sums it up well. The Supreme Court has already spoken to the issues raised in this case. In Boston, gay activists demanded to be included in the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. But the parade was organized and run by an Irish veterans’ group that did not want its message hijacked by homosexuals. In 1995, the Supreme Court slapped down their claim 9-0.

The Supreme Court also recognized the right of association of the Boy Scouts. The Court ruled in 2000 that James Dale could not force the Scouts to keep him as a Scout leader after he had declared his homosexuality.

All of these cases put great financial burdens on churches and private colleges and voluntary organizations like the Scouts and the Christian Legal Society. The threat of lawsuits by well-funded, media-backed Leftist activists forces too many groups to cave in to pressure. And all our rights suffer as a result.

President Obama is forever “reaching out” to Christian groups. He is happy to breakfast with Christians and defend himself from charges that he is a Muslim or a non-citizen. But when it comes actually to protecting the rights of Christians and Jews, where is his administration?

It’s hard to call for an end to the culture wars when your own side is manning the barricades. So far, Mr. Obama’s eloquent words are not matched by deeds. They remind me of the beefy Chicago Alderman who was told he needed to lose weight. He took up jogging. But he soon quit that, complaining that when you jog, “there’s nobody to knock down.” Is Mr. Obama’s idea of amity and concord one where we are all knocked down?

Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and a visiting professor at Liberty University School of Law. He is also chairman of Ohio Faith and Freedom Coalition.

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Ken Blackwell, a director of the Coalition for Mortgage Security, is a former undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a former Ohio state treasurer, and former mayor of Cincinnati.