“So Help Me God”

 

President Barack Obama has decided to follow the long tradition of every president who has taken an oath since the beginning of our country. He has requested that Chief Justice Roberts add the words, “so help me God” to his oath of office. Apparently, we have not had an atheist in the Oval Office in forty-four tries, and that bodes well for the country. The sobering responsibility of the Office of President has provoked more prayer in the Oval Office than cusswords, but the two expressions of faith may be in a head- to- head competition.

 

This news must create a great deal of consternation among the atheists and members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who are Hell – bent on preventing Americans from praying in public.  An atheist has sued unsuccessfully in Federal Court to ban the phrase, “so help me God”, citing the Constitutional separation of church and state as his reasons for suing his country.  There is a great reason the courts have turned down his demand that everyone should give up all of that praying and affirming in the presence of God.  Every Federal court has used the same words to swear in witnesses since the birth of our nation.

Democrat lawmaker  Babette Joseph of Philadelphia refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance.  She says it is a prayer, and should be banned due to what she perceives as a violation of the separation of church and state.  This warped perception of our Constitution is a plague that has been spreading throughout America for years.  If she wants to leave out the “under God” part, she is free to do so.  We are a country founded on freedom of speech, and we have a history of tolerance for religion, and the lack of it.  Speech, along with religion, are areas where government should stay out, and our Constitution gives us that right.

Praying in public is no more an affront to the Constitution than Tim Tebow’s silent “Thank you” to God after a touchdown is a threat to the sanctity of NFL football.  Picture this:  If the NFL wanted to censor Tebow from expressing his thanks to God in public, they should re-hire the substitute refs to tackle him after every touchdown to prevent his religious expression.  Good luck.  The guy can weave his way through the line like a pro.

We need to look at the reasons our founding fathers wanted to keep politics out of religion and religion out of politics:  The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …”  This is the only reference to religion in our Constitution, but that does not prevent certain misguided individuals and organizations from misconstruing it at every opportunity.

 

Our Founding Fathers were trying to avoid the theocracies that came to power during their time, and keep government free of the control of one religion over another.  By keeping the two separate, the United States escaped the religious wars and religious persecution by the church.   Congress has always held a prayer at the start of every session, and there are references to God above the door to the Capitol and in every public monument.  There are traditional oaths that invoke God, and the writings of all of the Founding Fathers have frequent references to God.             They would be appalled by recent attempts to prevent prayer in public. Take, for example, the numerous federal lawsuits initiated by the ACLU to prevent prayer at the start of public meetings by County officials throughout the United States.            The most glaring example is Joyner, et al v ForsythCounty, North Carolina.  In that opinion, the court gave County officials two choices: They could give up a prayer altogether, or they could have a county official lead the meeting with a non-sectarian prayer.  Both choices lead to the banning and censorship of prayer.

I tried to write a nonsectarian prayer. I couldn’t get past the first sentence. It began, “To whom or what it may concern:”. I reasoned that any prayer needs to appeal to someone or something, so I was covered on the nonsectarian part of the first sentence. Beyond that, since I did not know who are or what I was praying to, I gave up. If you come up with one, please send it to me at:  mailto:mark@atriskofwinning.com.  In the meantime, Federal Officials will continue to pray in public, County officials won’t, and I hear the ACLU has set their sights on State officials next.  Then, who knows?  Maybe the Supreme Court will decide to take up the issue before Congress feels the hot breath of the persecutors of prayer.Inaugural invitation

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