One nation, under God?

Before Monica Goodling resigned from the Justice Department, she wanted to see a new America. She hoped to right her country’s wrongs.

Before Monica Goodling resigned from the Justice Department, she wanted to see a new America. She hoped to right her country’s wrongs. Then came the federal prosecutor firing scandal and her job quickly went away. By most accounts, she helped fire eight U.S. attorneys for the sole reason of prosecuting Republicans. Before this disgrace, though, Goodling’s sole reason for service was a “soul” reason. She, like many members of the Bush administration, joined government to do God’s will.

Goodling received her law degree from Pat Robertson’s divinely inspired Regent University. At first glace, Regent University sounds like a legitimate, reasonable academic institution. After all, any school with 150 graduates in the Bush administration must be reputable, right? Certainly. It’s a nice enough place until you take a look at the university’s founder, Pat Robertson.

Pat Robertson, who once said, “Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians…It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history.”

Pat Robertson who, when he ran for president in 1988, called for the dissolution of the Departments of Education and Energy. Pat Robertson who said Presbyterians, Methodists and Episcopalians are the spirit of the antichrist.

The same Pat Robertson who called for the assassination of a world leader, suggested detonating a nuclear device in Washington, D.C., and blamed abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians and the American Civil Liberties Union for Sept. 11.

This wise gentleman founded Regent University to revive the Christian influence on public life. According to the school’s mission statement, it hopes to “bring to bear the will of our Creator, Almighty God, upon legal education and the legal profession.” The separation of church and state, in the eyes of Robertson, is “a lie of the left.” We find comfort in the fact that the dean of a major law school has never read the Bill of Rights.

When it comes to the U.S. government, Robertson and his followers look not to Jefferson, Madison or Hamilton, but to Mark, Luke and John. The 10 percent of unreligious Americans (that’s right, 10) is just too much for the righteous Pat Robertson. Before the advent of Regent University, he saw a dire need for religiosity. Therefore, he gave America the greatest gift he could imagine: himself.

Unfortunately, Regent University has proven unimpressive. It holds a fourth-tier ranking, the lowest possible. Out of 170 law schools, U.S. News placed it at 136th.

But George W. Bush doesn’t read the news. As the decider, he puts Regent University on a pedestal, or quite possibly an altar. The top graduates of Harvard and Yale, Princeton and Berkeley can’t hold a candle to Regent’s scholars. Granted, Regent-trained lawyers have a great deal of experience holding candles, generally during sermons.

One hundred fifty lawyers found their way from Pat Robertson’s law school to the Bush White House. Luckily, they get Sundays off.

This should come as no surprise. President Bush once said, “I feel that God wants me to run for president.” His first attorney general, John Ashcroft–who now teaches at Regent University–forced sculptors to cover the breasts of the “Spirit of Justice” statue that had stood unchanged in the Department of Justice since 1933.

With George W. Bush at the helm, religion has swarmed the nation’s capitol. If given the choice between reading the Constitution and reading Revelation, there’s no question which document most Bush-ites would choose. Suppositions on the fiery end of existence are undoubtedly more important than the cornerstone of Western democracy. Who needs the three branches of government when you have the four horsemen of the apocalypse?

The executive branch needs to check its priorities. For a generation, our leaders have turned to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to recruit new talent. Now they turn to Pat Robertson, Regent University and dogma.

For decades, our future leaders have been taught the words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Now, we risk substituting those timeless words for Robertson’s xenophobic, homophobic, racist, sexist, mindless, hateful, subversive, archaic, reactionary, fearsome, vile, dangerous, senile, repugnant, repulsive and reprehensible ideology.

Throughout history, religion has gained and lost prominence. Societies wax from secular to fundamentalist and back. While the church goes through violent vicissitudes, the state has stood strong. Judges have stayed objective and given lasting, transcendent decisions to their society. Their legacy is clear: to keep government strong, it must keep its distance from faith.

Religion should live on, but in its place. Church is meant to improve the life of a person, not the lives of the people. May church and state co-exist, on friendly but never fraternal terms.