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Ashcroft and the Religious Right

The American Humanist Association (AHA)
is alarmed by Attorney General John Ashcroft’s continued attempts to enact
his extreme personal agenda. In this time of crisis, the United States
Attorney General should rise above political motivations and defend our
nation’s defining feature—freedom.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Ashcroft was
criticized for not going far enough in using records of gun purchases in his
search for potential terrorists. He hypocritically responded, “I don’t want
to hear two messages from this committee . . . that you want me to enforce
some laws and not other laws . . . or respect some rights and not other
rights.” Clearly that is precisely the practice Ashcroft himself has been
engaged in over recent months.

AHA president Edd Doerr observes, “While Ashcroft feels the purchase records
of those who buy guns is sacrosanct, he has had no qualms suspending habeas
corpus, ignoring client attorney privilege, and secretly detaining and
investigating hundreds of persons not charged with crimes. While Ashcroft
overlooks pleas for action on civil rights violations, claiming his
department is absorbed in the antiterrorism effort, he has no trouble
finding time to pursue Oregon physicians who attempt to provide comfort for
patients in the last stage of life. While Ashcroft is assisting a war effort
on behalf the American people, he is also engaged in his own battle to shift
rights and liberties from the individual citizens to the government.”

“The agenda Ashcroft is pursuing is not the one defined by his office and
oath,” concludes executive director Tony Hileman. “Despite his claims to the
contrary during his nomination hearing this past January, it is now apparent
that he is not able to put aside his personal aims and beliefs in order to
fulfill his role of fairly protecting the rights of all Americans.”

“To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my
message is this:” Ashcroft said, “Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they
erode our national unity and diminish our resolve.” Hileman responds, “Our
nation is built on diversity, not unanimity, and is not bolstered by
governmental attempts to suppress dissent. We appeal to Congress and the
President to halt Ashcroft’s unrelenting assault on America’s civil
liberties. Not only has he circumvented the Constitution and suspended the
civil liberties that make our country great, but has gone so far as to
denounce his critics as unpatriotic. These are not fitting actions for the
head of our nation’s justice department.”

The American Humanist
is the oldest and largest Humanist organization in the
nation. The AHA is dedicated toensuring a voice for those with a positive
outlook, based on reason and experience, which embraces all of humanity.

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