Ashcroft under fire for NRB speech
Thought the biggest controversy at last week's National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville was the ousting of president Wayne Pederson? Not necessarily. Attorney General John Ashcroft's address has been making headlines all week. "The call to defend civilization from terrorism resonates from a deeper source than our legal or even our political institutions," he said. "Civilized individuals—Christians, Jews and Muslims—all understand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator. Civilized people of all religious faiths are called to the defense of his creation. … We are a nation called to defend freedom—a freedom that is not the grant of any government or document, but is our endowment from God." (The full text of Ashcroft's prepared remarks is available at the Department of Justice site, though it's unclear how much the attorney general's actual speech strayed from his written draft.) The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other media gave the speech significant coverage, and now come the columns and analysis pieces.

"Correct me if I'm misinterpreting the Word of Ashcroft, but he's saying that a lot of the people he's supposed to protect are uncivilized," says San Francisco Chronicle columnist Rob Morse. "I don't believe in God, but if I did God would be generous enough to grant the presumption of civility to skeptics, atheists, agnostics and the apathetic." Morse follows up his comments with the requisite litany of offenses: crusades, jihads, and the latest addition, child-molestation scandals. "I choose not to make fellowship with God, and get nervous about an attorney general who answers to a higher authority than some 'document' called the Constitution." ...

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