Florida Catechism No. 1

Lesson First: On the Fate of Terri Schiavo

Q Who made the world?

A. God made the world.

Q. Who is Terri Schiavo?

A. She is one of God's creatures, who suffered a heart attack and irreversible brain damage at age 26. She is at the center of an international battle over whether she should be kept alive artificially. She has been kept alive for the past 15 years because she was given nutrients through a feeding tube. Her husband says she would not want to live that way; her parents desperately want to keep her alive. Congressional subpoenas and last-minute legislation hope to overcome a court order removing the feeding tube.

Q. Why shouldn't she be kept alive?

A. Because she told her husband she would not want to live like that. Because many doctors with a great deal of medical expertise and compassion have found that she exists in a persistent vegetative state.

Q. Why did God make Republican political leaders?

A. To protect his Word and will. To denounce judges as activists. To grandstand on so-called moral issues. To interfere with Terri Schiavo's wishes.

Q. How are they interfering with Terri Schiavo's wishes?

A. They have introduced bills in the Florida Legislature and Congress to "save" Schiavo and prevent her feeding tube from being removed so she can die a natural death. Even though their previous efforts to do this have been ruled unconstitutional. Even though our nation and state have a thing about separating the powers of the legislative, executive and judicial branches.

Q. Who said her feeding tube should be removed?

A. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer, for starters. And every court that has reviewed his decision has agreed with his assessment that Terri Schiavo would not wish to stay alive by artificial means. The appellate judges who reviewed the case (two of the three on the panel were appointed by Republican governors, by the way, so stop with the "judicial activism" rants) wrote: "… in the end, this case is not about the aspirations that loving parents have for their children. It is about Theresa Schiavo's right to make her own decision, independent of her parents and independent of her husband."

Q. Who is Judge Greer, anyway, some kind of liberal wacko activist jurist?

A. No, actually Judge Greer is a former Republican Pinellas County Commissioner and a Southern Baptist to boot.

Q. Why doesn't Judge Greer just show some compassion and keep her alive as her parents wish?

A. Because if he did he would be breaking the law. He would then be legislating from the bench. He would then be a judicial activist. Which is exactly what pro-life groups hate. Even though those same groups want Judge Greer to do something that is not part of the law. Which would be judicial activism.

Q. Isn't that hypocrisy?

A. Yes.

Q. Wait a second, aren't you Judge Greer's former political consultant?

A. Yes, I was. Judge Greer is a former client and good friend. I first met him when I was a reporter for the Tampa Tribune and he was a Republican county commissioner. I found him bright, witty and conservative. He really appreciates good wine. He is deeply faithful. He can't see well enough to drive. He once offered a friend whose kidneys had failed one of his own for transplantation.

Q. Where is God?

A. God is everywhere.

Q. What does God want us to do about Terri Schiavo?

A. Ahh, now there's a tough question. Many people and groups who claim to know His will say that Schiavo should live. They call Judge Greer a "murderer," a "killer," a "Nazi" and seek to impeach him on websites that profess to be Christian but instead spread hate. Judge Greer fears for his life. They send e-mails and letters and make phone calls to Republican lawmakers telling them to approve "Terri's Law" or else.

Q. Or else what?

A. Or else those religious right and pro-life groups will ensure that those Republicans aren't re-elected.

Q. Can they really do that?

A. Actually, no. The Christian right does not control Republican primary elections. And they certainly don't represent the vast majority of Republican primary voters on this Terri Schiavo issue.

Q. How do you know that?

A. Because in polling that was done for a 2004 statewide campaign, among 800 registered Republican voters 60 percent of likely primary voters said they opposed the governor or the Legislature intervening in Terri Schiavo's case. Only 27 percent of Republican voters agreed with intervention. Even among voters who identified themselves as "conservative," 54 percent opposed legislative or gubernatorial meddling. In a Republican poll.

Q. So why do lawmakers listen to these groups if they are a distinct minority?

A. Because lawmakers run scared in the face of organized, well-financed and loud voters, no matter how few there are. Because some on the religious right can also raise a few serious bucks for these Republicans' campaigns. Because lawmakers ignore media polls (like a 2004 Florida Times-Union/South Florida Sun-Sentinel survey that found only 29 percent of Floridians supported the governor's and legislative intervention in the case) as being liberal and biased.

Q. Is God just, holy and merciful?

A. God is all just, all holy, all merciful, as He is infinitely perfect.

Q. What about our lawmakers?

A. Are you kidding?

The Political Whore says a prayer for Judge Greer, Terri Schiavo, her family and everyone involved in her case. You can reach Political Whore by e-mail at [email protected].

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