Written on 7/15/04

Earlier today as I was driving from Portland to Gresham under the beautiful skies of summer, I listened to the Al Franken Show on Air America.  Within a minute’s time I was stunned and was sure that my head was about to explode.  Why?  This is quite the interesting story.

Al Franken was speaking with people who were eating lunch at a barbecue establishment somewhere in Alabama.  Al feels that you can meet people and discuss politics and find common ground over barbecued meat.  A patron of the restaurant got on the microphone and spoke with Al.  They both exchanged niceties and information.  She talked about the delicious shrimp and pork and other mouthwatering foods.  Her name was Jody and she seemed nice enough and explained that she wasn’t really into the political “thing.” Of course, as you should know if you follow the news, gay marriage is the red herring for this particular presidential election.  The fact that the Senate had to vote down legislating marriage is absurd in the first place.  It should have never seen the light of Congress.  So, Al Franken asked her what her opinion was concerning gay marriage.  She said, timidly, that she didn’t think that it was okay in the eyes of God.  Fine, right, I’ve heard this before.  Al asked the next question, which was the same that I had for her as well.  “You do know that there is separation between church and state, correct?” She paused.  With that pause spilt forth my aching head.  The fact that she paused after that question conveyed to me that she was not of that belief in the least, or she wasn’t totally sure that was the case.  The first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”.Al Franken expressed that his interpretation of this was that there cannot be a national religion, nor can you stop anyone from practicing religion.  We were to be a people free from religion and free to practice it.  Jody said, “Yeah, but that’s your interpretation.” My head blew up.  Was she truly stating that the 1st Amendment does not provide for the practice of religion all the while not holding any religion as the “state religion”?  Apparently she was because when she continued, she truly believed that we are a part of a Christian nation and that our leaders should be Christian and act accordingly.  Well, firstly, President Bush, who proudly wears his Christianity like a new golf shirt, certainly does not act Christian all the time, especially with respect to our current cave-in known as the new American state of Iraq.  I just could not fathom that there were people that actually thought this way, although I knew that there must be.  It was that obviously difficult for me to comprehend that something so plainly put into words could be interpreted so mistakenly.

Earlier, I did a Google search on “church and state.” I came to find AU.org, which is the site for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  I browsed through some of their articles and saw a very interesting one concerning a senior citizen and her clash with Christian prayer at her senior citizen social center.  Here is the link:

Bigotry At Lunch: Md. Delegate Bashes Dissenting Senior

One section I read that really made me chuckle for being so typical of right wing Christian politics was:

Local officials and other state lawmakers declined to stand up for Sayre, but word of Dwyer’s rude missive soon began circulating on the web. Michael Nord, an Americans United member in Virginia, decided to take Dwyer to task. In an e-mail message to the legislator, Nord pointed out that the U.S. Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. He went on to chide Dwyer for attacking an elderly woman.

“Way to go, attacking a little old lady who is asking for your help,” Nord wrote. “Did you kick some puppies today too? I’d hope that the people of Maryland would have higher standards for their public servants.”

Dwyer wrote back, accusing Nord of being ignorant of the Constitution and adding, “Fortunately in Maryland our constitution under the Declaration of Rights article 36 still states that in order to serve in elected office you have to believe in God. Isn’t that great!!!”

Dwyer is apparently ignorant of the fact that the provision he cites was declared null and void by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1961 decision Torcaso v. Watkins. That ruling, brought by a Maryland resident who refused to affirm a belief in God as a condition of becoming a notary public, ended “religious tests” for public office in the handful of state constitutions that retained them.

Your opinions on whether or not Jesus W. Bush is correct or not should be posted below.  Thank you for your time.

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