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O'REILLY: The gospel according to Nancy

Despite global warming, hell might be freezing over, because the very liberal Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is apparently encouraging the Catholic clergy to campaign for immigration reform from the pulpit during Sunday mass. Wow.

Speaking at the Catholic Community Conference in Washington, Pelosi said: ‘‘Cardinals, the Archbishops, the Bishops come to me and say we want you to pass immigration reform. But I say I want you to speak about it from the pulpit. ... I want you to instruct ... the people (who) oppose immigration reform and are sitting in those pews ... that this is a manifestation of our living the Gospels.''

Amen?

For decades, liberal Americans have been hammering conservatives about the alleged ‘‘wall of separation'' between church and state. Many on the left fervently believe that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wanted no exposure of spirituality in the public arena and no political discourse disguised as religious instruction. If a church does that, it could lose its tax-exempt status.

But now, apparently, everything has changed, and it's ‘‘say amen, say hallelujah'' to a new immigration law. Building on the speaker's newfound strategy, I guess we can expect preachers to be commenting on government spending, drilling for oil and a value added tax, as well. I, for one, am looking forward to this. Father Smith's mustard seed sermon is used up, and I can't wait for the good padre to tackle cap and trade.

But the most stunning thing about Pelosi's point of view on political sermons is that it's coming from Pelosi. Remember, she's a Catholic who is stridently pro-choice. In fact, if the speaker lived in Rhode Island, she might have been told what Rep. Patrick Kennedy was told by the Archbishop: You can't receive the sacraments until you obey church teaching on abortion.

The group Americans United for Separation of Church and State says the speaker is ‘‘fundamentally misguided.'' They put forth that the clergy should not be politicizing church services, at least not on the tax-free dime.

But Pelosi does not seem to be swayed. Emboldened by Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who has made ‘‘humane'' treatment for illegal immigrants his signature issue, the speaker is hell-bent on converting the Sunday faithful to her side, separation or no separation.

Of course, the church-state issue has been greatly distorted in this country. The Constitution is crystal clear: ‘‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.'' Therefore, cultural signs of spirituality such as crosses and stars of David are perfectly permissible in public places as long as authorities don't force Americans to believe what they stand for. Also, there are plenty of issues that cross political and moral boundaries, such as abortion and, yes, how to treat illegal immigrants. Certainly, religious leaders have a right to address them in moral terms.

So Pelosi is partially correct. Moral issues should be addressed by the clergy, and if they are relevant to current legislation, so be it. But you can't cherry pick your issue, Madam Speaker, and the Gospels are quite clear about the sanctity of life. Are they not?

Veteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show ‘‘The O'Reilly Factor.''