Posted by: Kevin | April 10, 2007

The Slow Death of the Separation of Church and State

The Boston Globe recently published an interesting article on the Regent University Law School founded by Pat Robertson (yes, that Pat Robertson).  As the attorney firing scandal has grown, attention has fallen upon Monica Goodling, the former top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and a graduate of Regent University Law School.

Documents show that Goodling, who has asserted her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before Congress, was one of a handful of officials overseeing the firings…

Because Goodling graduated from Regent in 1999 and has scant prosecutorial experience, her qualifications to evaluate the performance of US attorneys have come under fire.

So how did someone with very little practical experience achieve such authority within the Justice Department?

…in 2001, the Bush administration picked the dean of Regent’s government school, Kay Coles James , to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management — essentially the head of human resources for the executive branch.

Their path to employment was further eased in late 2002, when John Ashcroft , then attorney general, changed longstanding rules for hiring lawyers to fill vacancies in the career ranks.

Previously, veteran civil servants screened applicants and recommended whom to hire, usually picking top students from elite schools.

Look, I have no problem with shaking up the system so that it’s not always the same schools (hello Ivy League) sending their graduates into the government.  However, the old system at least somewhat favored the most qualified (in addition to the most connected).  The Bush administration replaced that with a system which favored the most religious, and the most loyal. 

This has had a dramatic impact on how the Department of Justice has conducted itself.  As the Globe documented in a July 2006 article, the Civil Rights Division of the DoJ has taken fewer and fewer voting rights and employment cases involving systematic discrimination against African Americans.  Instead their focus has been on reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination against Christians.

Both Nixon and Reagan tried and failed to change the way the DoJ enforced civil rights legislation.  They failed because they never took the step of overhauling the hiring process at the Department of Justice.

“Reagan had tried to bring about big changes in civil rights enforcement and to pursue a much more conservative approach, but it didn’t stick,” Yeomans (a long time DoJ attorney) said. “That was the goal here — to leave behind a bureaucracy that approached civil rights the same way the political appointees did.”

This is part of a larger theme within the Bush administration.  In all branches of government, they have used hiring policy to enforce their political ideology at the expense of quality.  Where that isn’t possible, they have empowered political appointees to muzzle dissent.  The scale on which this has been down, is unprecedented for modern Presidents.

As for Regent University itself, despite determined and successful efforts to improve the quality of the education it offers, it remains a 4th tier school.  The University also remains unabashedly committed to its purpose of inserting Christian ideals into the practice of law.  This would be fine by me, so long as the Christian ideals they are referring to are charity and concern for our fellow man.  Those were the same Christian ideals which helped bring about Civil Rights legislation in the first place.  Unfortunately, their practice seems more in line with the Dominionist goal of primacy for the Christian religion. 

Hat Tip to Donklephant
Hat Tip to The CarpetBaggerReport
Hat Tip to Balloon Juice



  1. “This would be fine by me, so long as the Christian ideals they are referring to are charity and concern for our fellow man. Those were the same Christian ideals which helped bring about Civil Rights legislation in the first place.”

    Oh please. The civil rights movement was a Marxist front from the beginning. Do not believe me, rather check the American Communist Party archives that were just released to NYU ( Key hint: the guy who wrote the “I have a Dream” speech and the other things credited to Martin Luther King, Jr. was a member of the party, and King had to fire him when it became publicly known and threatened to discredit (or rather expose the truth about) King and the movement. The civil rights movement and the larger communist movement had nothing to do with charity and concern for your fellow man, but EVERYTHING to do about power. It is high time that people quit pretending otherwise.

  2. Wow, You’re so right! Equal rights for brown people, doing away with systematic discrimination, it was totally a Communist plot. You know what? If all those Black people had the good sense to stay segregated we’d probably be winning the war on terror.

    I’ll stop the sarcasm to note that the speechwritter you mention doesn’t appear in the NYT article you linked to. I’ll also note that it makes perfect sense to me an idealistic person might be attrated to both the communist party and the civil rights movement in the 60’s. Regardless of his (or her) afiliation the “I Have a Dream” speach was a pure expression of the desire for liberty and equality in the eyes of the law. If, forsome reason, you are unable to see that, then I pity you. There it is, do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to read it.

  3. whoa, sloooowwww,
    I don’t think there’s any reason to pitch marxism (esp. marxism as opposed to communism) against christian agape. Lenin and Stalin may have been afraid of the church as a power, but when Marx said religion was opium for the people, it was the way it was used that he was talking about: tolerated by those in power as a sedative for the masses. Beyond that, I have zero problems with people coming to the same valid results from different perspectives.

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