Religious Right Leaders Join President Bush At Bill-Signing Ceremony

The Religious Right's influence with the Bush administration was on full display at a bill-signing ceremony in early Nov­ember.

On Nov. 5 at the Ronald Reagan building, only blocks from the White House, President George W. Bush signed a bill to ban a rare late-term abortion procedure that its opponents call "partial-birth abortion."

A Nov. 6 New York Times article described the measure's enactment as a "moment of political triumph for the anti-abortion movement, a reflection of its influence with a Republican-controlled Congress and a Repub­lican president." The above-the-fold, front-page article was accompanied by a large color photo of an array of Religious Right leaders at the signing ceremony. The article said the abortion foes "gave the ceremony the air of a presidential pep rally." The prominent photo included Dr. Adrian Rogers, former head of the Southern Baptist Con­vention; the Rev. Lou Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition; the Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority; Janet Parshall, an evangelical radio talk show host; Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for Pat Robert­son's American Center for Law and Justice; Attorney General John Ashcroft and Roman Catholic Cardinal Edward Egan. Some 400 Religious Right leaders and their allies attended the event.

In a Nov. 10 e-mail to supporters, Falwell boasted about a "private meeting" in the White House that he and six other "pro-life leaders" had with Bush following the bill signing ceremony.

"In this meeting, President Bush gallantly declared that his administration would put all of its resources behind the partial-birth abortion ban in the courtroom," Falwell said in his e-mail. "After having a wonderful time of fellowship with President Bush, the president asked if we could all join hands and pray that God will bless our efforts to preserve life in our land.

"What an astounding moment this was for me personally," Falwell continued. "Standing there in the Oval Office I felt suddenly humbled to be in the presence of a man our president who takes his faith very seriously and who seeks the prayers of his friends as he leads our nation."