U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) is on a crusade against church-state separation.
Forbes founded and co-chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus – a group of 64 members of Congress who recognize “prayer as a fundamental and enduring feature of American life” and want to “use the legislative process – both through sponsorship of affirmative legislation and through opposition to detrimental legislation – to assist the nation and its people in continuing to draw upon and benefit from this essential source of our strength and well-being.”
When you cut through the pious rhetoric, that means Forbes and Co. want to pass laws to promote their theocratic vision of America. That’s directly counter to the vision of our nation’s Founders who gave us the First Amendment and forbade Congress to make any law “respecting an establishment of religion.”
For example, Forbes has introduced two resolutions in the House in defense of the congressionally mandated National Day of Prayer, after a federal district court rightfully struck down the government-sponsored religious day as unconstitutional.
Now Forbes has set up a nonprofit Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation to raise money to franchise the prayer-caucus concept to state legislatures. These affiliates will exist to monitor and oppose legislation, agency rulings and court opinions that uphold church-state separation. Mississippi has already signed on, and Virginia and Florida are working on it.
Forbes discussed his plans with James Dobson on Friday’s Family Talk broadcast, Dobson’s radio show. (Dobson founded the Religious Right powerhouse Focus on the Family, but now seems to be building a new broadcasting empire.)
“The country is in a great deal of trouble and I just felt like we needed to do something about it,” said Dobson, who suggested that there is a growing assault on Christianity in America. Forbes, of course, agreed, claiming these state prayer caucuses will be a way to deal with these “attacks.”
It’s the same sad song the Religious Right always sings.
But we all know better. Forbes and Dobson aren’t concerned with threats to religion; they’re concerned with finding ways to impose their faith on others.
And we at Americans United are just as determined to see that they don’t succeed. Keep an eye on your state legislature. Forbes and his Religious Right forces are on the move.