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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
January 18, 1999
Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? I know this is probably going to be an unpopular question, I just can't help myself. I have been watching this whole Clinton impeachment thing, and for some odd reason I get the impression that Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave.
On January 7, 1999, some time between the Senate being sworn in as jury, and Chief Justice Rehnquist doing the same with his hand on a Bible, everyone in the Senate chambers was led in prayer. Excuse me, but has anyone read the First Amendment.
I don't know about you, but as far as I am concerned orchestrated prayers of any kind, on the Senate floor is unconstitutional. Citing the First Amendment, Americans have fought very hard to keep prayer out of public schools. I am not saying if this is right or wrong, I'm just saying it. Why then, do we not even blink an eye when presidents are asked to swear "so help me god?"
Section 3 of Article VI of the Constitution of the United States guarantees that "...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." Yet you can't turn on the television, or pick up a newspaper with out being bombarded with the opinion of some self proclaimed Christian who feels that the President is amoral, and lied under oath. The oath administered, once again, with a Bible.
I appreciate that most elected officials are Christians, but I know for a fact that not all their constituents are. I'm wondering when and if we elect someone of an alternative faith to the highest office, will she be allowed to say "so help me Gaia," or Allah, or just plain "so help me?" As you can tell I am totally confused by this whole morality play.
Speaking only for myself, I don't see what the big deal is about. We all know that Bill Clinton lied about some twisted sex thing he had going with Miss Lewinsky. And that he might have actually tried to prevent others from finding out. What married man or women wouldn't? If we impeached every elected official over lies about their sex lives, the chairs of both the House and the Senate would be empty.
What I am wondering about is who is running the ship while the Republicans and Democrats are doing their partisan dance? It frightens me that Washington is filled with political appointees that are not subject to public vote, and that these bureaucrats will be running their own agendas while the big boys fight over who's doing what to whom.
The cynic in me can't help worrying about what anti-environmental riders are being cooked up by congressional staff, only to be hurriedly passed into law after Americans start demanding that congressional representatives start doing the job they were elected to do? We didn't send Ron Packard and Barbara Boxer to Washington to decide if the President lies. We knew that the first time we elected him.
Correct me if I am wrong, but the reason we elect a person to office is to take care of the people's business. You know, like providing us with mundane things such as safe foods, an adequate education, clean water and breathable air. Is that so much to ask?