Americans United Criticizes Judicial Nominee's Claim That America Is Engaged In A Religious War

Watchdog Group Calls On Senate To Oppose Confirmation Of Janice Rogers Brown

Federal court nominee Janice Rogers Brown's recent intemperate comments about religion and government are additional proof that she is unfit for the federal bench, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Addressing a church-sponsored service for judges and lawyers April 24 in Connecticut, Brown asserted that the nation is in midst of a "war" over religious values.

"There seems to have been no time since the Civil War that this country was so bitterly divided," Brown observed. "It's not a shooting war, but it is a war.... These are perilous times for people of faith, not in the sense that we are going to lose our lives, but in the sense that it will cost you something if you are a person of faith who stands up for what you believe in and say those things out loud."

Brown, speaking in Darien, Conn., at the invitation of the Diocese of Bridgeport, asserted that atheistic humanism "handed human destiny over to the great god, autonomy, and this is quite a different idea of freedom. Freedom then becomes willfulness."

Observed Brown, "You can be spiritual. You can meditate as long as you don't have a book that says something about right and wrong."

Brown's comments were first reported in the Stamford Advocate and then circulated by Gary Bauer, a Religious Right leader who supports Brown's nomination. In today's Los Angeles Times, Brown's office did not dispute the Advocate account.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said he was amazed that Brown would make such inflammatory comments in the middle of a hard-fought confirmation battle.

"Most Americans are people of goodwill who want to get along with their neighbors despite religious differences," Lynn said. "Declarations that we are in the midst of some sort of religious war do a disservice to the nation."

Continued Lynn, "Judges must be fair-minded and impartial. Brown's comments show she does not have a judicial temperament and is unfit for the federal bench. We urge senators to oppose her confirmation."

Observers say Brown, currently a justice on the California Supreme Court, has extreme views in a number of areas. President George W. Bush has nominated Brown to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, but Senate Democrats are using filibuster rules to block her nomination, asserting that her views are too far outside the legal mainstream.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.