Friday, January 23, 2004
Beliefnet reports:

John Ashcroft's Faith

Two profiles of Attorney General John Ashcroft are now on newsstands. U.S. News & World Report says little about Ashcroft's faith, noting only that he was raised by Pentecostal missionaries and is a "deeply religious man." Colleagues told the weekly that the nation's top law enforcer keeps religion out of his work, adding "that they have never even seen him pray." Apparently, these colleagues don't attend the daily Bible study (or "RAMP" meetings, for "Read, Argue, Memorize and Pray") in his office.

Vanity Fair's profile portrays Ashcroft as a combination of "piety with ambition." The magazine retells the story of his anointing with Crisco oil after being elected a Missouri senator, in the tradition of "the ancient kings of Israel." In 1999, he told students at Bob Jones University that America has "no king but Jesus," and as Attorney General, he forbade the word "proud" in official correspondence because "pride is one of the seven deadly sins." He also banned the phrase "no higher calling than public service" because "there is a higher calling than public service, which is service to God."

None of this is very shocking coming from a devout Pentecostal, perhaps, and the uglier rumors--like his reported belief that calico cats are "instruments of the devil," Ashcroft denies. But Vanity Fair reports some disturbing customs—he calls his campaign victories "resurrections," for instance, and his defeats "crucifixions,"--and some harsh moral judgements. As Missouri's governor, Ashcroft twice vetoed a $900,000 grant to a Kansas City home for AIDS victims. When a state senator pointed out that without the grant the home's patients would be forced to "live in boxes under bridges," Ashcroft replied, "they're there because of their own misconduct, and it wasn’t very reputable misconduct, either."

"When does misconduct become reputable? When disreputable?" the senator asked.

"'That’s beside the point,' snapped Ashcroft."

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