Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) blasted Senate Democrats in a Tuesday op-ed for “fomenting religious bigotry” in their attempts to disqualify judicial nominee Brian Buescher over his Catholic beliefs.
She addressed concerns about Buescher’s district court nomination that were waged by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif,) – without bringing up their names – stressing that his religious beliefs should not be used to discount his effectiveness to get the job done. She argued that religious discrimination has no place in the politics of her own party.
“While I oppose the nomination of Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, I stand strongly against those who are fomenting religious bigotry – citing as disqualifiers Buescher’s Catholicism and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus,” Gabbard wrote in her op-ed published in The Hill. “If Buescher is ‘unqualified’ because of his Catholicism and affiliation with the Knights of Columbus, then President John F. Kennedy, and the 'liberal lion of the Senate' Ted Kennedy would have been ‘unqualified’ for the same reasons.”
Religious candidates need not apply?
It was emphasized that Democrats cannot get away with precluding nominees for positions merely based on their faith.
“We must call this out for what it is – religious bigotry,” Gabbard insisted. “This is true not just when such prejudice is anti-Catholic, but also when it is anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Hindu or anti-Protestant – or any other religion.”
Gabbard’s passion about the issue could likely come from the fact that she considers herself a dedicated servant and protector of U.S. citizens while adhering to her own faith.
“Gabbard – a veteran of the Iraq War – was the first Hindu elected to Congress in 2012,” TheBlaze informed.
She did not like the fact that her Democratic colleagues questioned Buescher’s ability to perform his job due to his allegiance to a Catholic organization, which upholds biblical values on social issues.
“Harris questioned Buescher about his membership in the Catholic service organization, the Knights of Columbus, and the organization's stance on same-sex marriage,” TheBlaze’s Aaron Colen noted. “Hirono asked about Buescher's ability to be a fair judge on abortion issues.”
Buescher, who said that he joined the Knights of Columbus at the age of 18 – through which he participates in charitable and community events – defended his membership to the group.
"The Knights of Columbus does not have the authority to take personal political positions on behalf of all of its approximately 2 million members," Buescher explained in a written responses to the senators' questions and concerns, according to TheBlaze.
Freedom to believe
Gabbard pointed out how American politics has been marred by elected officials using religion to divide – and not unite – the American people.
“For too long in our country, politicians have weaponized religion for their own selfish gain, fomenting bigotry, fears and suspicions based on the faith, religion or spiritual practices of their political opponents,” the Hawaiian politician impressed. “Whether we think of ourselves as Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikh, Buddhists, Jews, atheists, agnostics or anything else, it is imperative that we stand united in our commitment to protect religious freedom and the right to worship or not worship – safely and without the fear of retribution.”
Regardless of one’s faith or belief system, Gabbard stressed that singling people out for discrimination because of their religious background should not be a part of the nomination process.
“We must stand together, and with one voice condemn those who seek to incite bigotry based on religion,” she continued. “We cannot allow those who are anxious to exploit our differences to drive a wedge between us. We cannot – and will not – tolerate prejudicial treatment of those with whom we disagree – any more than we would tolerate such treatment of those with whom we agree.”
She condemned the Democratic Party for inciting Americans to believe that they should hide their faith if they want to be considered to serve their country as an elected official, justice or other position of influence in the government.
“Standing up for freedom of religion for all people is as critical now as it’s ever been – hatred and bigotry are casting a dark shadow over our political system and threatening the very fabric of our country,” Gabbard proclaimed.
The representative brought up the law of the land and a problematic quote from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to impress her point even further.
“Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that there ‘shall be no religious test’ for any seeking to serve in public office,” Gabbard informed. “No American should be told that his or her public service is unwelcome because ‘the dogma lives loudly within you,’ as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said to Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearings in 2017 to serve as U.S. Circuit Court judge in the 7th Circuit.”
Gabbard siding with the right?
After Gabbard’s comments about her colleague’s attack on Buescher’s faith and worldview were published, Hirono’s spokesman, Will Dempster, insisted that the lawmaker mischaracterized the senator’s questioning of the nominee – contending that the concerns only had to do with the aspiring justice’s prior public statements, and were not about his religious beliefs.
“It is unfortunate that Congresswoman Gabbard based her misguided opinion on the far-right wing manipulation of these straightforward questions,” Hirono spokesman Will Dempster stated, according to The Washington Post. “[Over the past two years, Hirono] has been attacked by right-wing ideologues for her examination of Donald Trump’s ideologically driven nominees to the courts.”
He went on to excuse Hirono’s line of questioning by calling Buescher a pro-life activist set on attacking women’s so-called “reproductive rights.”
“Senator Hirono asks all judicial nominees – particularly those who have expressed very strong personal ideological views in conflict with Supreme Court precedent – if they can be fair,” Dempster added. “She asked Mr. Buescher – who has a clear record of anti-choice activism – whether he could separate his personal beliefs from decisions he would make if confirmed for a lifetime appointment on the federal bench.”
Defending the motivation behind the op-ed, Gabbard’s spokeswoman, Lauren McIlvaine, reiterated that the Hawaiian representative is merely standing for religious liberty over discrimination against those holding to their sincerely held religious beliefs.
“[Gabbard will] always fight for religious freedom and oppose religious bigotry – no matter where it comes from or to whom it’s directed,” McIlvaine impressed in a statement, according to The Washington Post. “Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard respects Senator Hirono. No nominee for public service should be disqualified – either directly or indirectly –because of their religion or religious affiliation.”