Transcripts made available today of attorney general-nominee John Ashcroft's speech at Bob Jones University in 1999 demonstrates the former Senator's contempt for the nation's religious liberties, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
In the speech, Ashcroft said that America has "no king but Jesus."
"Clearly, John Ashcroft's speech shows that he has little or no appreciation for the constitutional separation of church and state," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "For a nominee for U.S. attorney general to state that we have 'no king but Jesus,' is completely unacceptable. In the United States, it is the Constitution that serves as the basis for our laws and national life, not one faith tradition.
"This speech demonstrates the John Ashcroft is completely unqualified to serve as attorney general," Lynn added. "The Senate must reject his nomination.
"Ashcroft obviously believes the United States is a Christian nation," continued Lynn. "He is woefully misinformed. Our Constitution guarantees unqualified religious liberties for each of us, regardless of our beliefs. The fact that Ashcroft rejects this basic principle should be startling to all Americans of good conscience.
"His comments serve as a grievous insult to religious minorities," Lynn added. "It shows he does not have the temperament to serve as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States."
Also troubling were Ashcroft's remarks praising Bob Jones University, a school with a history of religious and racial bigotry. During his recent campaign, Ashcroft suggested that he was unfamiliar with the institution that awarded him an honorary degree. However, during his 1999 visit, he praises the university, thanking God for its very existence, and then lauding the school's commitment to the principles they share.
"This is rank dishonesty," Lynn concluded. "Senators looking for evidence that undermines Ashcroft's claims of honesty and integrity need look no further than this smoking gun."
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization represents 60,000 members and allied houses of worship in all 50 states.
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.