Do you regret saying it?
Well I regret those circumstances, [but] the position is well taken. I think people should be cautious… because of people using [religion] and the insincerity. But I have not been judgmental. As a matter of fact, I’ve been strongly defending people. Even Mitt Romney—I don’t defend the pros and cons of Mormonism, but I hate to see him picked on because somebody saying “I don’t agree with the Mormon religion.”
Have any of the Republican presidential candidates been guilty of that?
I don’t have any evidence of that but I just have a suspicion that there’s a lot of people that are less tolerant and will judge him more by his religion than his position on the First Amendment.
Mike Huckabee has made TV ads that identify him as a “Christian leader.” Do you think that’s an appropriate use of religion in politics?
I would certainly think that he can say anything he wants. I wouldn’t use those terms. Hopefully someone would see me as a Christian who could be a leader. And he’s playing on words. And how sincere he is, I make no judgment. I have no idea if he’s 100-percent sincere but misguided. I’m neither condemning nor would I use that same approach.
A few years ago, you wrote a Christmastime essay that said there was a war on religion in this country: “The ultimate goal of the anti-religious elites is to transform America into a completely secular nation… biased against Christianity.” Do you still see that kind of assault happening?
I think it’s systemic… in court cases that say you can’t say a prayer at a football game. Where is it in the Constitution that said that somebody can prohibit prayer? The First Amendment says the federal government shouldn’t write any laws regarding freedom of speech and prayer. And if it becomes offensive… then the local people have to deal with it.... it should be the school board or somebody. But there can’t ever be under the First Amendment a prohibition. The Founders never thought that to be the case…. It’s systemic, especially the aggressive atheists who are always going to courts, to say that their attitude because they’re atheists means a prohibition against expression of Christianity and that of course didn’t happen 30 or 40 or 50 years ago. It’s much more so today because there are some people aggressively trying to undermine Christianity.
Nonetheless, have you made common cause with a lot of secular liberals over your mutual outspoken opposition to the Iraq war?
Yes. A lot of times they love to have an ally and broaden their base... then all of a sudden, they’ll be a few [secular anti-war liberals] who will come off and break off and say, “Do you know who your ally is? He’s somebody in prayer, we have to attack them! He’s not even for the welfare state!” And they say, “He can be our friend, but not too friendly,” and then some of them will start attacking me.
Are you just as suspicious of them, of secular anti-war liberals?
I sort of welcome allies. I think that’s the way the political system should work.
You’ve sponsored legislation in Congress that would effectively overrule Roe. v. Wade and leave the abortion issue to the states. Is your pro-life position a result of your faith or your experiences as an obstetrician?
I was raised at a time when you weren’t challenged—nobody thought killing an unborn was a worthy thing to do. It didn’t make any sense. The reversal came in the sixties, when all of a sudden they said “Oh, killing an unborn baby is acceptable.” I just never accepted that. So what was just known and accepted just stuck with me. But then I had to sort it out theologically, philosophically, and also politically. And it was very easy for me to bring them all together—religious beliefs, personal beliefs, instincts, history, tradition, the right to life, and the value of life. What good is liberty if you don’t protect all life?
And with my medical background in obstetrics I realized I had legal liability… as a physician, if there’s a homicide, it’s a double homicide. That’s still on the books. So you can’t make life arbitrary. You can’t just say you can kill in one minute and you don’t on the other. That’s made our society schizophrenic, so that if the baby is inadvertently killed, we punish the person. But if it’s [done] deliberately, we pay the person. That is probably the greatest moral inconsistency in my lifetime that eventually has to be resolved or we will have this total misunderstanding about what our freedom is about.