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Features 2000 Au2

Christian Coalition Grills Judicial Candidates

The Idaho Christian Coalition’s religiously based survey of judicial candidates is an "outrageous stunt that smacks of the Inquisition," according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The Coalition, the state affiliate of TV preacher Pat Robertson’s political group, has distributed a 31-question survey that asks candidates for the Idaho Supreme Court where they stand on religious and political issues.

Said the Rev. Barry Lynn, Americans United executive director, "This is an outrageous stunt that smacks of the Inquisition. Judicial candidates’ personal religious beliefs are nobody’s business. In America, the Constitution forbids religious tests for public office."

Lynn was equally incensed by the Coalition’s attempt to pressure judicial candidates to take stands on issues that might come before the courts.

"This misguided crusade strikes at the heart of judicial impartiality," said Lynn, an attorney as well as a minister. "Judges are supposed to weigh issues and then apply the law of the land, not take purely political stands during election campaigns. The Christian Coalition is way off base here."

Lynn noted that the American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct says judicial candidates should not take stands on issues that are likely to come before the courts.

Despite this ethical code, the Christian Coalition’s Idaho questionnaire asks candidates their positions on abortion, gun control and other controversial matters. It also asks about the candidates’ stands on "God’s law."

Specific questions included:

  • Do God’s Laws or Natural Laws have a high [sic] authority than laws enacted by the United States Congress or the Idaho Legislature?
  • Do you agree that the United States Constitution is Christian-based?
  • Does hell exist as described in the Bible?
  • Do you believe in the fact that God created all the heavens, earth, creatures, plants and man?
  • Do you believe that God inspired the writing of the United States Constitution?
  • Vis-á-vis abortion, are you "Pro-Life"?
  • Will you approve the displaying of the Ten Commandments in your court room?

Concluded Lynn, "Pat Robertson’s true colors are showing. He and his group want an America where their fundamentalist viewpoint is enforced by the courts. All Americans ought to be outraged."

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