Old and busted crisis: Religious tests in Congress. New crisis hotness: Failing Catholic schools! Senator Dianne Feinstein defended herself against accusations of anti-Catholic bigotry on CNN’s State of the Union by noting that she went to Catholic schools as a youth. Feinstein also claimed she can’t be accused of Catholic animus because she eats dinner with bishops, or something:
“I’m a product of Catholic education,” Feinstein said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I sat in doctrine classes for four years for five days a week. I think that Catholicism is a great religion, I have great respect for it.”
“I’ve known many of the archbishops who have been in my community,” she continued. “We’ve had dinner together, we’ve spoken together over many many decades and I’ve tried to be helpful to the church whenever I could.”
Are some of Feinstein’s best friends Catholic too? And just how has Feinstein made herself “helpful to the church,” anyway? She’s part of the cohort that insists on abortion on demand and enforcement of the HHS contraception mandate that forces organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor to either violate their religious principles or pay massive and ruinous fines to the government. With “help” like that, the bishops could easily find better dining partners.
Rather than apologize for that line of questioning, Feinstein insisted it was necessary due to Amy Barrett’s lack of bench experience:
“All we have to look at are [Barrett’s] writings,” Feinstein expanded on CNN on Sunday. “And in her writings she makes some statements which are questionable, which deserve questions.”
Questions, yes, but not interrogations over her faith and comments about how “the dogma lives loudly” within Barrett — a condition that the rest of us call faith. Besides, Feinstein doesn’t apply this standard evenly. Elana Kagan had no judicial experience and no trial experience before getting appointed to the Supreme Court by Barack Obama. Did Feinstein interrogate Kagan about her Jewish faith in lieu of that experience? No, because it would have been offensive to do so, just as it was here, no matter how many Catholic friends Feinstein has.
The point of Feinstein’s interrogation was to keep faithful Catholics from being seen as legitimate candidates for public office. Professor C.C. Pecknold wrote sagely about this last week in the Wall Street Journal when he concluded that Feinstein and other Democrats want no obstacles to imposition of a state secularist religion that will brook no heretics:
Sens. Feinstein and Durbin were troubled not by Ms. Barrett’s Catholicism, but by her failure to prove her religion could conform to a more dogmatic progressivism. The “religious test” Democrats want to impose isn’t about religion per se; it’s about ensuring that every religious claim can be bent to more comprehensive political aims. It’s about defining anyone who dissents from the mores of the sexual revolution as disqualified from public office. That’s what makes Ms. Feinstein’s questioning so chilling.
Few liberals have spoken out against these religious tests, providing tacit consent for the Democratic Party to continue the practice. One of America’s major political parties appears prepared to consent to a very different kind of creed from the one the American founders envisioned. Our forefathers understood religious freedom in positive terms, as freedom for the highest good, God. This “first freedom” was held as the basis of all the political freedoms, including the freedom to dissent and to disagree on matters of law and politics.
Ms. Barrett has spent her career honoring the older creed—not only with her Scalia-like deference to the law, but through respect for freedom of religion and conscience. Ms. Feinstein honored the new creed, the one dividing an already polarized nation. A dogmatism now threatens countless Americans’ freedom, and it isn’t Catholicism.