Cynthia Tucker is editorial page editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She wrote this late last week.

President Bush should be ashamed.

Tucker argues as follows:

He has treated religious conservatives with more disrespect than Hollywood or the so-called liberal media ever could. He has used their opposition to gay marriage as nothing more than a political prop to be trotted out just as the election season begins, and he apparently believes they are naive enough to fall for his clumsy and half-hearted gestures …

He should indeed be ashamed – for playing politics so blatantly with his religious supporters. But they also should be ashamed. Or rather, they WILL be ashamed, if ever they really see how they have been used and abused for years now by top political operatives of the radical right.

This is deeply embarrassing. It is literally painful to watch. We care about the real humans on all sides of this – and to see some of them being marched happy and unwitting through this charade again and again is really difficult.

He ought to treat their sincerity with the respect it deserves by telling them the truth: A constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is not an issue on which he wishes to expend what little political capital he has left.

It is not one of the pressing issues of our time …. Prohibiting same-sex unions would have absolutely no effect on the state of traditional marriage. Britney Spears — whose first marriage lasted less than a day — has done much more to denigrate traditional marriage than gay couples have

Catholics worked this out a long time ago: If you wish to be married in the church, you must follow the teachings of the church. Otherwise, you can go to the courthouse, or you can find another church that suits your beliefs.

Then at the end of the editorial Tucker changes the subject. The embarrassment of the Bush-Rove strategy and of the over-responsive “Christian Right” are bad enough. But we need to point out again and again how dangerous this all really is.

What Dobson and his followers are trying to impose is a Christian version of sharia — religious law. That wouldn’t bode well for an Iraqi democracy, and it wouldn’t bode well for this democracy, either.

“Wouldn’t bode well” indeed. It is deadly! That kind of political-religious power turns religious zeal into persecution and murder – as we have seen in American history, abundantly in European history, and in several Muslim countries in recent years. I am not over-reacting here; this IS in human nature, and it is very prevalent in human history. It is a good part of what the Founders and the Constitution were trying to protect us from.

Why, my fellow Americans and fellow Christians, would we want to bring that spectre to shadow the human race yet again, in yet another place?