Would Jesus be a Republican?

Deborah Caldwell of BeliefNet posts this disturbing report about the Bush administration's continuing interest in weakening the separation between church and state.
The Republican National Committee is employing the services of a Texas-based activist who believes the United States is a “Christian nation” and the separation of church and state is “a myth.”

David Barton, the founder of an organization called Wallbuilders, was hired by the RNC as a political consultant and has been traveling the country for a year--speaking at about 300 RNC-sponsored lunches for local evangelical pastors. [...]

Barton, who is also the vice-chairman of the Texas GOP, told Beliefnet this week that the pastors' meetings have been kept “below the radar.... We work our tails off to stay out of the news.” [...]

Barton’s main contention is that the separation of church and state was never intended by the nation’s founders; he says it was created by the Supreme Court in the 20th Century. [...] Barton is also on the board of advisers of the Providence Foundation, a Christian Reconstructionist group that advocates America as a Christian nation. [...]

The lunches are coordinated by the RNC’s evangelical outreach director, Drew Ryun. “He and I make it very clear we are not partisan per se, we’re biblical,” says Barton. But according to Federal Election Commission filings, Barton has earned $12,000 this year from the RNC for “political consulting.” A spokesman for the RNC, Scott Hoganson, did not respond to questions about Barton.

Barton contends that the IRS allows pastors to endorse candidates from the pulpit as long as they make it clear it’s their own personal opinion and not an official church endorsement. [...]

In an interview with Beliefnet this week, Barton said, “I show them the historical role of pastors being involved in civil government. I show them the Biblical basis for pastors being involved in civil government, and then I show them the issues that are at stake from a biblical point of view and the voting records that pertain to those [issues].” At that point in his presentation, he passes out a June 10 letter from the Internal Revenue Service explaining what ministers are able to say and do, legally, in their churches.

“They’re shocked by what they can do,” says Barton. [...]

Of course, despite claiming to be "biblical" rather than "partisan,"

[i]n the Beliefnet interview, Barton was heavily critical of Americans United for trying to “intimidate” conservative Christian ministers. But Boston said his organization has also reported three black churches to the IRS since August for endorsing Sen. John Kerry from the pulpit.

Huh. Imagine that.

For some reason, I remain unconvinced that there is one person associated with this administration, including the president himself, that has even the remotest understanding of the true tenets of Christianity.

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