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The selection of Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, as Al Gore’s running mate was part of a secret plan to smuggle religion into the Democratic Party. It was an act of desperation by a party with an ugly image, badly in need of a moral bath and a character lift.

Lieberman dutifully made religion a campaign issue. His first public words after being selected as Gore’s running mate were, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” Speaking to a prayer breakfast, Lieberman said, “This is the most religious country in the world. … ” He described Americans as the “children of an awesome God.”

He also let it be known that his religious values will inform and motivate his political positions. He asked, “Isn’t Medicare coverage of prescription drugs really about the values of the Fifth Commandment — honor your father and mother?” One has to wonder why Lieberman does not ask himself, “Isn’t the abortion of viable babies really about the values in the Sixth Commandment — thou shalt not kill?”

Observant Orthodox Jews hold to the traditional view that abortion is an atrocity, and homosexuality is a sin. It is no mystery why so many orthodox rabbis are dissociating themselves from Lieberman.

Al Gore has done his part to execute the strategy of piety. During the primary campaign, he identified himself as a born-again Christian, and said that his guiding principle as president would be, “WWJD — what would Jesus do?”

It could be interesting, if one were so inclined, to contemplate how Vice President Lieberman, who does not believe Jesus is the Messiah, could help Al Gore figure out the answer to “WWJD?” It would be even more interesting to contemplate what Gore would do with Lieberman if Jesus instructed, “He is not a believer. Convert him.”

Gore ran a major risk by making a place for religion and legitimizing “God talk” in a party that has dedicated itself to wiping every trace of religion out of the public square. He had to be concerned about the reaction of those liberals who, after half a century of toil, sweat, and tears, believed themselves to be on the threshold of a glorious victory over mean-spirited and judgmental religious values.

In such a context, Gore chose well. He not only inoculated himself against the moral failings of Clinton, he inoculated himself against the hostility of powerful special interest groups in the Democratic Party. He achieved this by defining a new religion for the party, one headed by a God who is prepared to bless same-sex sex and partial-birth abortions, while frowning upon moral discernment and the rebuke of sin.

Thus liberals can have their God and exorcise Him, too. They can have a “God” who does not stand between them and what they want to do and be. This is the fallen state which liberals are asking the people to ratify at the ballot box. It is the worldview that man is the creator, and God is his pawn.

While both Democratic candidates have openly stated that they will derive public policy from the Scriptures, one might righteously conclude that their source of inspiration has more to do with opinion polls and political expediency than with divine guidance.

An honest look would convince even the most skeptical that we have strayed far from the two basic principles which guided the Founders: the principle of limited government which empowers the people, and the principle of moral responsibility, which makes that empowerment possible.

The obvious question is, why have we abandoned our seminal values? Was it because they didn’t work? To the contrary, our economic system was energized by a people who had a work ethic based on individual freedom, and our society was shaped by a life ethic based on mandates from the Creator of the universe. It made of us the most affluent country in the history of human civilization — and the most moral.

At a different and better time, “In God We Trust” was not a slogan, but an affirmation that each of us must answer to an immutable system of laws and justice completely beyond man’s reach — laws not subject to popular will, lobbyists, activists, opinion polls, votes, wishful thinking or repeal by any court designated as “Supreme.”

Our basic problem is that we have put ourselves in the hands of fools and charlatans. Our basic solution is their replacement with men and women of character and wisdom.

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