The influence of religious faith on the American political process cannot be underestimated. According to a Newsweek poll conducted in March, 73 per cent of Evangelical Protestants said that they believed that God created men and women in their present form within the past 10,000 years.
In recent debates, four of the ten Republican candidates for President took the position that they do not subscribe to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, preferring the biblical creation narrative that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.
It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that many people are beginning to wonder whether America is on a downward slope towards its own form of Sharia, where secular matters are governed by religious law, especially when an increasing number of legal posts are being filled by students from one poorly regarded faith-based law school.
Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia, has roughly 500 students and is ranked at the rock bottom as a “fourth tier” law school in an authoritative survey published by U.S. News & World Report.
One of its prominent graduates is Monica Goodling, a lawyer with scant prosecutorial experience, who resigned under fire last April after a five-year stint as a top aide to Alberto Gonzales, the US Attorney-General. She wrote her besieged boss a letter: “May God bless you richly,” she said, “as you continue your service to America.” Goodling received her legal and religious training at Regent, which was established by Pat Robertson, the televangelist, himself a Yale Law School graduate, in 1986 to provide “Christian leadership to change the world”.
Up until 2001, it was exceedingly rare for Regent graduates to take governmental positions; since it took office, the Bush Administration has hired 150 Regent graduates and with most of these lawyers are employed by the Department of Justice. In a recent Regent newsletter, a 2004 graduate provided a revealing snapshot of how the Church-State divide may have been crossed. Describing his interview for a position with the Civil Rights Division, the student was asked which Supreme Court decision of the past 20 years he found most objectionable. He cited Lawrence v Kansas, the gay civil rights case in which the Justices decided to invalidate the Kansas sodomy statute.
The interviewer readily agreed, and said he found the decision “maddening”. Thereupon, the correct-thinking Regent alumnus received an appointment to the housing section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, the only job offer he received on graduation.