The Senate has now approved John Ashcroft as U.S. attorney general. However, the real story in the Ashcroft debate has been the bitter opposition that has taken place against this upright and principled man who has promised to rigorously uphold the laws of the land — even those laws that may contradict his personal convictions.

Because Mr. Ashcroft is true to his Christian beliefs, Senate Democrats — many of whom are controlled by leftist interest groups — have falsely portrayed this honorable man as intolerant, extremist and bigoted.

I believe that John Ashcroft has been the target of religious profiling because of his fervent religious beliefs. Just as racial profiling unduly singles out innocent minorities simply because of their skin color, Mr. Ashcroft has been arbitrarily targeted because his deeply-held Christian beliefs are detestable to morally-ambiguous leftists.

“John Ashcroft is honest, not only in word, but in deed. He never lets his personal interests get in the way of telling the truth and doing the right thing, based on the truth. John Ashcroft cares deeply about doing the honest, right thing, even if it means great personal sacrifice to him,” said Anita K. Blair, president of the Independent Women’s Forum.

The religious profiling against John Ashcroft took place even though Article VI of the U.S. Constitution mandates “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

That historic protection against political witch hunts — the likes of which we have witnessed in the U.S. Senate — strikingly counters the words of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who said prior to Thursday’s confirmation, “I think that we have a right to look at John Ashcroft’s religion.”

Earlier, Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said, “We question whether [Ashcroft’s] religious views will have an impact on his role as attorney general.”

In addition, the editors of the New York Times protested Mr. Ashcroft’s “religion-based approach to public policy issues.”

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., responded, “If the editors of the Times have their way, no evangelical Christian is fit to serve in the president’s cabinet. But surely an evangelical Christian has as much right to his beliefs as anyone else — at least that is the promise of the U. S. Constitution.”

Beverly LaHaye, founder and chairman of Concerned Women for America, responded to this assault on Mr. Ashcroft by saying, “With Sen. Ashcroft’s impeccable record and character, the liberal extremists’ real objection is shown in their unified disgust for people of Christian faith. Ironically, the senator who convened the first and only Senate hearing on racial profiling is now a victim of religious profiling.”

This fallacious effort to defeat and defame John Ashcroft is strikingly different than the course of action taken by Republicans when Janet Reno was nominated to the same post eight years ago.

American Renewal president Ken Connor noted that in 1993, Bill Clinton’s nominee received just 35 questions in writing, all from Democrats, despite her controversial views on the death penalty and obscenity enforcement and a troubling record as a U.S. attorney of failed child abuse prosecutions. Following an intense grilling by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Ashcroft was sent well over 400 questions to answer; he wound up supplying over 100 pages in answers.

Mr. Connor said Mr. Ashcroft had been “selectively targeted by extremist groups on the far left because of his strongly-held evangelical Christian faith. Many of the attacks suggest that Mr. Ashcroft’s faith makes him unfit for office. This comes dangerously close to violating the Constitution’s prohibition of religious tests for public office.”

He added, “The public pillorying of a man of John Ashcroft’s character, integrity and record of public service is despicable and should be condemned by all Americans who still value decency and civility in the political life of our nation. … The questions piled on Ashcroft [have been] a smokescreen in order to drag out the sneer and smear campaign against this qualified man and his record. It’s religious and political profiling, and it must stop.”

Conservative supporters of Sen. Ashcroft have pointed to his elevation of African-Americans while he served as governor of Missouri. As I noted in an earlier column, Mr. Ashcroft confirmed 26 black judges to federal court positions while he served in the U.S. Senate. In addition, Mr. Ashcroft has painstakingly enforced laws — even some with which he did not agree — while serving as attorney general of Missouri. His hiring and voting practices in the Senate illustrate his respect for all people and his commitment to the law.

But liberals simply choose not to believe that a man of personal religious convictions can adhere to the laws of the land — even though he has a clear record of doing so. So they falsely characterize him as a dangerous racist with a secret plan to unleash an evil agenda against many Americans. This is the action of desperate and careless politicians who have, for years, accomplished their political agenda by deceiving their credulous constituency.

Mr. Ashcroft has also been accused of having an agenda against homosexuals, specifically facing a Senate grilling as to why he objected to the nomination of openly-homosexual James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg.

“Based on the totality of Mr. Hormel’s record of public positions and advocacy, I did not believe he would effectively represent the United States in Luxembourg, the most Roman Catholic country in all of Europe,” Mr. Ashcroft said of the nominee.

Upon examination of Mr. Hormel’s public record, it becomes obvious that he is not an appropriate representative of the United States. In fact, material that appeared at the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center at the San Francisco Public Library reveals a shocking array of sexually-explicit material — including promotional material from the North American Man-Boy Love Association, a group that advocates sexual relationships with young boys.

The Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition gathered a vast array of appalling material that appeared at the Hormel Center and recently sent it to every U.S. senator. The packages sent the nation’s 100 senators included a wide array of offensive material — frontal portraits and photographs of naked young boys, poems about molesting boys, short stories that mock Christ, coloring books featuring depictions of women’s private parts, and so forth.

However, instead of voicing their outrage about this unredeemable material, Democratic senators did nothing but bury their heads further in the sand and continue their collective diatribe against Mr. Ashcroft.

Here’s the truth: John Ashcroft is not out of the mainstream of American society, as the left would have us believe. He is a man of great character who will diligently uphold the laws of our land. And he will uphold them for everyone — blacks and whites, homosexuals and heterosexuals, pro-choice advocates and pro-life proponents, religious zealots and atheists.

Democrats who have demonized this good man should be profoundly ashamed for selling out to the radical fringe groups that oppose our nation’s history of Judeo-Christian values. And they should be equally repentant for their participation in the alarming religious profiling of John Ashcroft.

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