- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2000

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman said this week that virtually anyone who believes in God is an environmentalist, then called Texas Gov. George W. Bush "a friend of polluters."
"If you believe in God, I think it's hard not to be an environmentalist because, you see, the environment is the work of God," he said Wednesday while delivering an environmental address at a park in Wisconsin.
"For Al Gore and me, this begins, if you will, as a matter of faith. [But] given a chance to stand with people, families, or side with the polluters, Governor Bush has too often chosen to side with the polluters," said Mr. Lieberman, according to the Associated Press.
It is not the first time Mr. Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, has gone beyond evocations of religious faith to suggest that his political opponents are not godly.
In Chicago on Aug. 28, Mr. Lieberman linked the Gore-Lieberman prescription drug plan to the Fifth Commandment to "honor thy father and mother."
While the comment got no play in the media, syndicated columnist Tony Blankley wrote: "It ought to justify some media attention when a vice presidential candidate attempts to turn a programmatic dispute over how best to deliver prescription drugs into a battle between those who obey God's commandments and those who don't."
The Connecticut senator unabashedly promotes the virtues of religious faith on the stump, ignoring admonishments by the Anti-Defamation League, the American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
He has been chastised by some groups for overplaying religion. In late August, the ADL, an organization that combats anti-Semitism, demanded that Mr. Lieberman "refrain from overt expressions of religious values and beliefs" as Mr. Gore's running mate.
Mr. Lieberman refused to change course. He told the San Francisco Chronicle that he will continue to discuss "the constructive role that faith has traditionally played in American life, and what it can play in our future."
Bush spokesman Ray Sullivan said the Texas governor is working to improve the state's environment by signing tougher laws to clean up the air and by forcing older power plants to clean up or shut down.
He said Texas recently submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency plans to reduce industrial emissions in Dallas and Houston by an additional 90 percent.
"Senator Lieberman is being used by the Gore campaign as their attack dog, spreading false and misleading information about Texas and the Bush record," said Mr. Sullivan.
Mr. Lieberman cited Adam and Eve in his talk about environmental stewardship.
"It is said that God put Adam and Eve there to work the garden but also to guard it," the Connecticut senator said at Bluegill Bay Park.
"I think that obligation which is not only to experience, enjoy, in some senses develop creation but also to guard it and protect it is exactly what the environmental movement and environmental protection is all about," said Mr. Lieberman.
A 1967 essay published in Science, a prestigious journal, fueled a lasting debate about nature and religion. Author Lynn White argued in the essay, titled "The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis," that the Genesis idea of people "having dominion" caused Western society to abuse the environment.
Religious groups have debated the proper balance of "dominion" and "stewardship" of the environment ever since, differing over the place of humans among other animals, economic justice vs. conservation, the role of government and the causes of environmental problems.
Analysts suggest Mr. Gore added Mr. Lieberman to the Democratic ticket in part because he saw him as a voice of moral rectitude after President Clinton's affair with a former White House intern that led to his impeachment.
Mr. Lieberman was the first prominent Democrat to denounce Mr. Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky in a speech on the Senate floor. Mr. Lieberman, who voted to acquit the president, often calls his selection by Mr. Gore a "miracle."
"We feel very strongly, and we hope you would agree, that appealing along religious lines, or belief in God, is contrary to the American ideal," the ADL said in an August statement by Howard P. Berkowitz, ADL national chairman, and National Director Abraham H. Foxman.
"The First Amendment requires that government neither support one religion over another, nor the religious over the non-religious," the ADL officials said.
Mr. Lieberman stood his ground.
"The ADL has a job to do, and I respect them. In this case, I respectfully disagree," Mr. Lieberman told the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Faith is a source of unity, I believe, and it has also been a source of good works."
Conservative Christians such as William J. Bennett, Jerry Falwell and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson defend Mr. Lieberman's public professions of faith hoping they will renew moral values.

Larry Witham contributed to this report.

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