Conservative patriarch Barry Goldwater declared war Tuesday on 'political...


WASHINGTON -- Conservative patriarch Barry Goldwater declared war Tuesday on 'political preachers' who 'claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me.'

The Republican senator from Arizona, who recently suggested a kick in the pants for the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Moral Majority leader, said he would fight 'every step of the way' the religious groups that he said cloak themselves in conservative political garb.


Asked if he still wanted to kick Falwell in the pants, Goldwater said, 'I might aim a little higher.'

'A kick in the head?' someone asked. 'No, not that high,' the senator said. 'There are other good places.'

Falwell, attending a White House reception for businessmen, shrugged off Goldwater's comments, saying the Moral Majority was a political organization with a constitutional right to speak out on the issues.

Falwell said Goldwater may have considered himself a conservative in his day, 'But perhaps the times have passed him by.'

Goldwater, the 1964 GOP presidential candidate, said he was upset with opposition by such groups to Supreme Court nominee and fellow Arizonan Sandra O'Connor, who refused to state her judicial views on abortion. She said she personally opposes abortion.

But the main thrust of his statement was an attack on Moral Majority-style 'religious factions that ... are not using their religious clout with wisdom' and claim credit for the country's apparent swing to conservatism.


'There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God or Allah,' Goldwater said. 'But, like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly.'

Taking note of news reports describing the Moral Majority and other religious groups as 'the new right' and the 'new conservatism,' Goldwater said:

'I have spent quite a number of years carrying the flag of the 'old conservatism.' And I can say with conviction that the religious issues of these groups have little or nothing to do with conservative or liberal politics.'

He said abortion, busing, the Equal Rights Amendment, school prayers and pornography are of secondary importance to national security and the economy.

'I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?' Goldwater said.

'And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate.


'I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of conservativism.'

When the Moral Majority announced its opposition to Mrs. O'Connor shortly after President Reagan nominated her in July, Goldwater said, 'Every good Christian should kick Jerry Falwell in the ass.'

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