WASHINGTON -- Attorney
General-designate John Ashcroft says he tries to "invite
God's presence" while making crucial decisions and
compares his political victories and defeats to
resurrections and crucifixions.
The former Missouri governor also wrote that he was
anointed before each of his gubernatorial terms and on
the evening before he was sworn into the U.S. Senate a
friend brought out Crisco cooking oil for anointing when
no holy oil could be found.
In his 1998 book, "Lessons From A Father To His Son,"
the son of a pastor makes clear his deep devotion to
Christianity and details how it has shaped his lengthy
public career -- from his view on race to his staunch
opposition to abortion and support for the death
Since President-elect Bush selected the defeated
Missouri senator to be America's next chief law
enforcement officer, civil rights groups and abortion
rights supporters have mobilized to oppose his
nominations based on some of his views.
Ashcroft's book offers a plainspoken reply to such
"It is against my religion to impose religion on
people. ... But I also believe that I need to invite
God's presence into whatever I'm doing, including the
world of politics," wrote Ashcroft, who is Pentecostal.
The mixing of politics and faith is embraced by many
public officials, according to the Rev. Jerry Falwell.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., an Orthodox Jew, often
spoke of his faith during his campaign for vice
president and strictly observed the Jewish Sabbath from
sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
"There are more today in high places who unashamedly
express their faith in God than I have known in my 50
years in the ministry," Falwell said. "John Ashcroft is
one of the most genuine and committed Christians I have
Ashcroft's book is a tribute to his late father, J.
Robert Ashcroft, who was a pastor and college president.
The former senator credits his father with teaching him
the moral values that shaped his life as a state and
"My theory about elections is mirrored in what I hold
about all of life: for every crucifixion a resurrection
is waiting to follow -- perhaps not immediately, but the
possibility is there," Ashcroft wrote.
He used the same analogy to describe his first defeat
for Congress in 1972.
"My congressional election loss did not end at a
crucifixion; it became a resurrection, and an open door
to my lifelong vocation of public service. But other
crucifixions lay ahead."
Ashcroft, a former Missouri attorney general,
addresses in the book some of the issues he would face
in the Justice Department and at his confirmation
hearing next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Ashcroft is criticized by black leaders for his role
in halting the nomination of Missouri Supreme Court
Judge Ronnie White, the first black on the state's high
court, to a federal judgeship. White has agreed to
Of race, Ashcroft wrote that he learned
discrimination was wrong when he asked his father, "What
would you say if I told you I wanted to marry a black
His father replied: "John, what would be trouble was
if you married someone who didn't share your faith."
Ashcroft recalled, "This was my father's way of telling
me that what really mattered was not skin color but the
condition of a person's heart."
The Cabinet designee has said he considered White to
be soft on criminals, and noted he had supported 23 of
the 26 nominations of black judges during his Senate
The man who would have a major say in selecting
judicial nominees was harshly critical of judicial
He wrote that such jurists "refuse to accept the
inactivity of the legislature or the silence of the
framers of the Constitution as evidence that the ignored
issues should not be addressed or were purposely not
covered by the law or the Constitution."
"What these activist judges fail to see is that where
the Constitution is silent, that silence expresses the
will of the people."
As governor, Ashcroft said, his religious beliefs did
not prevent him from allowing executions -- even when a
condemned prisoner went through a religious conversion.
"Just because a murderer has learned to love the Lord
does not mean the state should pardon him," Ashcroft
wrote. "As a Christian, I am willing to forgive him; but
as governor, it would have been inappropriate for me to
pardon him unless a mistake had been made in the
Ashcroft likened his two gubernatorial inaugurations
to Jewish kings David and Saul, who "were anointed as
they undertook their administrative duties."
On the eve of his becoming a senator, Ashcroft
remarked to a group of family and friends, "It's too bad
we don't have any oil."
"Let's see if there's something in the kitchen," his
Someone brought out a tiny bowl of Crisco oil.
"We chuckled about that, but my father assured us,
'The oil itself isn't important, except as a symbol of
the spirit of God," Ashcroft wrote.