Religion and Politics

You’ve heard it said that religion and politics don’t mix..  Some misinformed souls even think the Constitution calls for “the separation of church and state”, even though there is no such language in our nation’s most important document.  I’m afraid that politics and religion do mix and in fact it’s almost impossible to separate the two.

Case in point:  NBC Sports began its coverage of the US Open golf tournament this past Sunday with a “patriotic piece” celebrating the fact that the “US” Open was being played in the nation’s capital.  Featured in the segment was a group of grade school children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.”  So far, so good.  But, some genius at the network decided to edit out the words “under God”, not once but twice.

Frankly I don’t know which was more offensive, NBC’s deliberate exclusion of the Almighty from the pledge or their half-hearted apology three hours later!  Notice two things about the “apology”, the first is that announcer Dan Hicks  doesn’t repeat the words that were left out and second that he doesn’t apologize for NBC’s actions, saying only  “It was not done to upset anyone, and we’d like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it.”

Let’s be realistic here.  Once might have been an editing mistake.  Twice was deliberate.  If we’re to believe that this was truly an accident and not intended to offend anyone, then NBC Sports must be run by imbeciles.  Doesn’t anyone screen this stuff before it goes on the air?  The phrase “under God” in the pledge has been a subject of controversy for years. Surely someone must have questioned its omission.

What about Bob Costas, the host of the US Open coverage.  Costas calls himself a Catholic though his battle with then Archbishop Raymond Burke over the hiring of a renowned pro-abortion, pro-embryonic stem cell singer to headline an event for Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital raised some serious questions about his Catholicity.  Whether he’s a serious Catholic or a nominal Catholic, he should have seen the potential outrage that this piece would cause.

Whatever your religious persuasion, if you believe in and love God, (which means you are in the majority) then you have to be concerned and angered by NBC’s actions.  This country was founded by God-fearing men who never expected to have their words twisted in an effort to push God out of our life.  This is a nation “under God” whether the atheist minority likes it or not.  You and I must stand up and protest what’s happening in America today.

I don’t want to sound like a paranoid Christian but……if the phrase were “under Allah” I doubt that NBC would have the intestinal fortitude to mess with it.  I’m just sayin’….

I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a bold prediction.  The US economy is in a mess.  The Democrats and the Republicans have very different opinions of what’s going to make us well.  I don’t think either one of them has the answer.  The answer lies somewhere in between, but today’s climate in Washington makes compromise almost impossible.  I believe the answer lies with the very guy that so many people are trying to push out of the public square.

This nation was founded by God-fearing men leading God-fearing citizens.  And, we’ve been abundantly blessed.  Personally I believe that the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writers of the scriptures inspired the authors of our founding documents.  How else could a small group of men, living in the 18th century, create a system of government and the documents to support it that endures to this day?

Unfortunately, subsequent generations of Americans have drifted away from the principals of our founders and of our Creator.  Now we’re even letting a minority of Americans (and some non-Americans) push God out of our secular lives.  I can’t speak for God, but if I were Him I’d be plenty ticked off.

Now, here’s that prediction.  Our country is never going to get better until we embrace God again.  I don’t mean just giving Him lip service.  I mean following the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, attending Mass (or the church of your choice) on a weekly basis, and making yourself heard when others try to take away your religious rights.

We’re never going to get moving in the right direction until our elected employees in Washington begin to work for the people and not for themselves.

Meanwhile, if we don’t act, the forces of evil are amassing against the United States.  These are forces that have existed for years in small pockets, mostly in the Middle and Far East.  But modern communications tools have made it possible for these groups to unite against a common enemy.  That common enemy is us.  Frankly, I don’t think we can repel an attack by our united enemies without God’s help.  Our “Red Sea” moment could be coming sooner rather than later.  Will God be on our side?  I think that’s up to us.  And I don’t think we have a lot of time.

One Response

  1. The principle of separation of church and state is derived from the Constitution (1) establishing a secular government on the power of the people (not a deity), (2) saying nothing to connect that government to god(s) or religion, (3) saying nothing to give that government power over matters of god(s) or religion, and (4), indeed, saying nothing substantive about god(s) or religion at all except in a provision precluding any religious test for public office and the First Amendment provisions constraining the government from undertaking to establish religion or prohibit individuals from freely exercising their religions. That the phrase does not appear in the text of the Constitution assumes much importance, it seems, only to those who may have once labored under the misimpression it was there and, upon learning they were mistaken, reckon they’ve discovered a smoking gun solving a Constitutional mystery. To those familiar with the Constitution, the absence of the metaphor commonly used to name one of its principles is no more consequential than the absence of other phrases (e.g., Bill of Rights, separation of powers, checks and balances, fair trial, religious liberty) used to describe other undoubted Constitutional principles.

    Some try to pass off the Supreme Court’s decision in Everson v. Board of Education as simply a misreading of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists–as if that is the only basis of the Court’s decision. Instructive as that letter is, it played but a small part in the Court’s decision. Perhaps even more than Jefferson, James Madison influenced the Court’s view. Madison, who had a central role in drafting the Constitution and the First Amendment, confirmed that he understood them to “[s]trongly guard[] . . . the separation between Religion and Government.” Madison, Detached Memoranda (~1820). He made plain, too, that they guarded against more than just laws creating state sponsored churches or imposing a state religion. Mindful that even as new principles are proclaimed, old habits die hard and citizens and politicians could tend to entangle government and religion (e.g., “the appointment of chaplains to the two houses of Congress” and “for the army and navy” and “[r]eligious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings and fasts”), he considered the question whether these actions were “consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom” and responded: “In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the United States forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.”

    You speak of pushing God out of the public square. It is important to distinguish between the “public square” and “government” and between “individual” and “government” speech about religion. The principle of separation of church and state does not purge religion from the public square–far from it. Indeed, the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause assures that each individual is free to exercise and express his or her religious views–publicly as well as privately. The Amendment constrains only the government not to promote or otherwise take steps toward establishment of religion. As government can only act through the individuals comprising its ranks, when those individuals are performing their official duties (e.g., public school teachers instructing students in class), they effectively are the government and thus should conduct themselves in accordance with the First Amendment’s constraints on government. When acting in their individual capacities, they are free to exercise their religions as they please. If their right to free exercise of religion extended even to their discharge of their official responsibilities, however, the First Amendment constraints on government establishment of religion would be eviscerated. While figuring out whether someone is speaking for the government in any particular circumstance may sometimes be difficult, making the distinction is critical.

    Wake Forest University recently published a short, objective Q&A primer on the current law of separation of church and state–as applied by the courts rather than as caricatured in the blogosphere. I commend it to you.

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