Body and Soul has an excellent piece in reaction to an article on the connection between John Ashcroft's faith and his politics. She sums it up eloquently:
The only major influence seems to be that Ashcroft believes God is on his side and he should never waver in the course he believes is right. Personally, I've always thought self-doubt was a fine quality, but it's hard to condemn a man for having the courage of his convictions. If Ashcroft had humane values to match that courage, you might even call it a good thing. So I'm mildly amused when I read an article in which the writer catalogues some of the odder Pentacostal rituals (none of which Ashcroft participates in) in order to suggest there's something dangerous in his beliefs. (And I can't help but see a seedy class bias in the portrait of Pentacostalism, which has traditionally been a religion of the poor and uneducated -- Ashcroft being the odd duck here). The problem, the article suggests, must be that the Attorney General is too religious.
John Ashcroft's problem is not too much religion, or that he takes his religion too seriously. His problem is that he's a semi-competent man who has found himself in a job light years beyond his skill level. And if he has a religion problem, it is that his religon isn't much more than a few petty rules hiding in a truckload of arrogance. It doesn't have anything to do with mingling the secular and the theological. It's just that both Ashcroft's secular and theological sides are cheap and thoughtless.
But they don't threaten the division of church and state. And that's probably the best defense of John Ashcroft you'll ever hear from me.