\c have willfulK’ accepted grinds on inexorabK’.rnThe American Civil LibertiesrnUnion of Massachusetts will, ot course,rndefend tlic North American Man/BoyrnLove Association against a federal lawsuitrnthat claims that the NAMBLA websiternand literature incited the murder of a tenyear-rnold bov. Two men are scning lifernsentences for that murder, but the ACLUrnbelieves that advocacy of pedophilia is arnFirst Amendment issue. iLawrenccrnFrisoli, the lawyer who brought the suit,rnhas declared, “We allege an ongoingrncriminal conspiracv for the rape of childrenrnin America” {New York Times,rnSeptember 1). I think of it more as a SecondrnAmendment issue, mvselfrnAs our country drifts closer to institutionalizedrninstruction in sodom as a riternof passage for young men, because thatrnwill make it easier for them to adjust tornthe “new” Arm’ (and by the way, thernGirl Scouts have had no trouble becausernthey don’t “discriminate”), I was ratherrnshocked that Kweisi iVIfume and thernNACP also booted an opportunih’. hirnour land of government-superisedrnec]ualit” and diversih, should an Americanrnfort or an- installation be named afterrna lieutenant general in the ConfederaternArm; a slaveholder and defender of slaverv,rnwhose statue, erected b racists,rnstands in Richmond, Virginia, becausernhe died defending that city in 1865? Yes,rnI am referring to Ambrose Powell Hill,rnwhose name was on the lips of bothrnRobert F,. Lee and Stonewall Jackson asrnthev died—and I am calling for a boycottrnof die national economy until Fort A.P.rnHill is renamed “Fort Liberace.” Thatrncould be the site of a real jamboree, if yournknow what I mean.rn- / . O . TaternJ O S E P H L I E B E R M A N S selection asrnthe first Orthodox Jew to rmi for vicernpresident may have the imexpected effectrnof making it respectable again tornmaintain that the United States is arnChristian countr’. Picking Lieberman asrnhis running mate was the single most interestingrnthing Al Core has done in hisrncampaign for the \’^^itc House. Punditsrnassumed that Core was tring to repudiaternthe sordid behavior of President Clintonrnwhich had led to his impeachment:rnLieberman, as the first Democratic senatorrnto criticize the President for his immoralit}’,rncould inoculate the ticketrnagainst the charge that Clinton’s indecencvrnhas damaged the countn,’.rnThe claim that Lieberman is a personrnof principle is questionable; immediatelyrnafter declaring on the Senate floor thatrnthe President’s conduct was “intolerable”rnand “inexcusable,” Liebermanrnfailed to demand CHnton’s resignation,rnand he ultimately did not ote to removernhim from office. Worse, within days ofrnbecoming the vice presidential nominee,rnLieberman reversed himself on the privatizationrnof Social Securit)’, school vouchers,rnand his opposition to affirmative action.rnThose positions initially madernLieberman appealing to conserativesrnand moderates, but since the- werernanathema to the Democratic Partv’s corernconstituency of bureaucrats, publicschoolrnteachers, and minorities, he abandonedrnthem in the most public and unseemKrnway.rnEven so, there is one principle thatrnLieberman continues to proclaim: hisrnbelief that his political success and, indeed,rnhis entire career has been the resultrnof divine intervention. .s he remarkedrnon the day he was selected, “Praise Cod,rnfrom whom all blessings flow.”rnLieberman has emphasized the Americanrntradition of celebrating religion’srncontribution to politics. Before a largelyrnblack audience at the Detroit FellowshiprnChapel, he declared that “The Constitutionrnguarantees freedom of religion, notrnfreedom from religion” and that “As arnpeople, we need to reaffirm our faith andrnrenew the dedication of our nation andrnourselves to God and Cod’s purpose.”rnBut something strange happened.rnHoward Berkowitz and Abraham Foxmanrnof the Anti-Defamation Leaguern(ADL) lashed out at Lieberman for his remarksrnat the Detroit Fellowship Chapel.rn”We feel very strongk,” the fvvo wrote tornthe senator, “and we hope you wouldrnagree, that appealing along religiousrnlines, or belief in God, is contrary to thernAmerican ideal.” ‘I’hey went on to arguernthat the “First Amendment requires thatrngovernment neither support one religionrnover another nor the religious over thernnon-religious.” Berkowitz’s and Foxman’srnsentiments reflect dominantrnSupreme Court jurisprudence since thernmid-1960’s, biit the are completelyrnwrong in their interpretation of constitutionalrnhistorv’. There is no doubt that thernFramcrs believed (as George Washington,rnJohn Adams, Alexander Hamilton,rnJames Madison, and John Jay made quiternclear) that there could be no social orderrnwithout law, no law without morality,rnand no morality- w ithout religion: evenrnimder the First Amendment, governmentsrnare well witiiin their rights whenrnthe promote religion. Lieberman, to hisrncredit, has been quoting Washington tornthat effect, but Berkowitz and Foxmanrnunderstand the implications of the senator’srnstatements, and they are horrified.rnSo are many of the nation’s editorialists,rnwho are also alarmed by groups seekingrnto organize “spontaneous” prayer atrnhigh-school football games, despite thernSupreme Court’s recent banning of thernpractice when sponsored by school authorities.rnThe New York Times arguesrnthat spontaneous prayer might makernsome feel “excluded”; therefore, it oughtrnto be discouraged. But Lieberman’s celebrationrnof religion has legitimated spontaneousrnreligious expression, and, likernprayers at football games, it may be regardedrnas speech protected under thernFirst Amendment’s “free exercise”rnclause. If Lieberman’s views about dedicatingrnourselves to God’s purpose resonaternwith voters, it will be difficult forrnDemocrats to criticize George W. Bushrnfor declaring Jesus Christ to be thernphilosopher who had the most influencernon him or to attack the governor for proclaimingrna “Jesus Day” in Texas. (Bushrnearlier signed proclamations declaringrn”Honor Israel Day,” a holocaust remembrancernweek, and a day to honor thernAustin Chabad House.)rnLieberman has reopened a nationalrndebate on the role of religion in publicrnlife. While no single religion has arnmonopoly on the public square, thernFramers believed that Christianityrn(though no particular sect) unified ourrnnation under God. As recently as a fewdecadesrnago, justices of the U.S.rnSupreme Court could declare America arn”Christian nation.” But in 1993, whenrnKirk Fordice, then governor of Mississippi,rncharacterized the United States as arnChristian country he was condemned byrnthe media and such groups as the ADL.rnThe reaction to Lieberman’s remarks,rnhowever, has been largely positive; evenrnthe ADL cannot attack him too severely,rnlest his value to the Democratic ticketrndisappear. Lieberman’s views may oncernagain become political orthodoxy, andrnreligion ma’ regain a new legitimacy inrnthe public square. If that happens, evenrnadvocates of America as a “Christian nation”rnwould have a legitimate claim to bernheard. Since 90 percent of Americansrnstill profess Christian creeds, the outcomernmay not displease Kirk Fordice.rn— Stephen B. Presserrn8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn