Supporters of Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft say the delay in his confirmation gives them extra time to drum up grass-roots support for the former Missouri senator via an electronic petition now endorsed by Norma McCorvey — “Roe” of Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion.

Sponsored by the Yankee Samizdat, an alternative Internet periodical, the petition states in part: “We, the undersigned, urge you to support the nomination of and vote in favor of John Ashcroft for Attorney General of the United States. We believe that the wave of anti-Christian bigotry roiling from the extreme left in this country and focusing on Mr. Ashcroft must be stopped. We reject the notion that Christian morality is defective and a threat to our nation. We WILL NOT have our moral views driven from the public square by pragmatic atheists and those who are so profoundly deluded by them. We are not obliged to ‘check’ our moral weapons at the doors to government so that the extreme amoralists may wield theirs with impunity.”

The petition accuses senators of subjecting Ashcroft to an “unconstitutional religious test for office.” Legally, individuals are not to be disqualified for a public position based on their religious beliefs. During Ashcroft’s confirmation hearings last week, former Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, made a point to articulate that the nominee was not being judged by the committee based on his faith. Nevertheless, Christian observers of the hearings say committee members have done just that.

“We are now reaching a point where it has become truly obvious that the extreme left … feel they can safely attack a person who has Christian morals on the grounds that those morals are defective in the public square. In other words, that our morals are equated with those of Adolf Hitler,” said T. Athanasius, publisher of the Yankee Samizdat. (Samizdat is Russian for “self-publishing.”) “This is really a truly ignominious comparison.”

But Ashcroft opponents say it is the senator’s actions, based on his beliefs, that are the basis for their outspoken hostility toward him. In her testimony to the Judiciary Committee, National Abortion Rights Action League President Kate Michelman said her organization rejects his cosponsoring of the Human Life Act of 1998, which would have declared that life begins at fertilization. Also objectionable to NARAL was Ashcroft’s work as attorney general of Missouri to limit nurses from providing contraceptive services. As governor, he supported a bill in Missouri that would have outlawed abortion for 18 different reasons — unacceptable to the pro-abortion group.

“These and other actions John Ashcroft has taken as a public servant to criminalize abortion — even in cases of rape and incest — and to limit the availability of contraceptives demonstrate that he uses every tool of every public office to attack women’s rights,” said Michelman.

“Many say the president is entitled to have his nominees confirmed, short of some violation of the law or an ethical lapse. And I know that when a colleague sits in front of you, the confirmation process is particularly sensitive and difficult. Within reasonable bounds, a president should be able to pick his closest advisors. But those reasonable bounds have been exceeded with this appointment,” she continued.

Archbishop of New York Edward Egan candidly remarked in a New York Post editorial meeting that being called a Christian is “a serious accusation these days.” Talking about Ashcroft, the archbishop said, “We’re making this a religious test.” Egan said pro-abortion groups are hiding behind the word “choose,” a “transitive verb which means nothing.”

“We’re so afraid to articulate the language of obligation,” the archbishop added.

Egan took exception to remarks by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who grilled Ashcroft about reproductive issues, among other things. Kennedy claimed that the “vast majority of Americans believe in access to contraception and a woman’s right to choose.” But Egan told the Post that people should not be forced to suppress their fundamental beliefs because of cultural concerns.

“I stand for what I believe,” Egan said. “That’s where I stand. To say I must adjust to nonjudgment on my part, because the culture has, is goofy.”

While the archbishop did not say whether he supported Ashcroft’s confirmation, another prominent figure did. Norma McCorvey, “Jane Roe” from the famed abortion case Roe v. Wade, has formally endorsed the Yankee Samizdat’s petition. Now a confirmed anti-abortion advocate, McCorvey identifies herself as “one hundred percent sold out to Jesus and one hundred percent pro-life. … No exceptions. No compromise.”

Her personal message has been added to e-mail alerts promoting the petition. It states: “I know John Ashcroft and can tell you that the attacks against him are nothing less than the expressed anti-Christian hatred of the extreme left in this country. Please, both prayer and action are necessary. My prayers are for my country in this hour, as is the case with many of you. I have taken the ACTION of signing this petition and pray that you will also ACT by not only signing it, but by encouraging others to do so also.”

McCorvey converted to Christianity in the mid-1990s and now concentrates her efforts in her ministry, “Roe No More,” which “strives to network pro-life speakers throughout the nation in order to provide a base of educational and informational speakers and presenters for organizations who wish to promote the sanctity of human life and the message of love and forgiveness,” according to the group’s website.

The Yankee Samizdat will continue to gather electronic signatures to its petition in support of Ashcroft until a vote is taken on the senator’s confirmation next week.

In addition to the above petition, if readers would like to instantly send a fax message to all 50 Democrat U.S. senators regarding their upcoming vote on John Ashcroft, click here.

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