Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on July 2, 2002

God's prophet? The San Diego Union-Tribune's James Goldsborough can't quite top the San Francisco Chronicle's Stephanie Salter, but he comes close. Back in December, Salter showed that she lacks some common sense by "channeling" Jesus Christ. Goldsborough merely comes across as some sort of John the Baptist, shouting in the wilderness.

Goldsborough takes on some of the recent "God" issues. First, let me say that the evisceration of the Pledge of Allegiance by the Ninth Circuit court in San Francisco last week is going to be overturned. Second, the whole issue isn't really a big deal. The court's being silly. If, by some fluke chance, the ruling were to stand scrutiny by the full Ninth Circuit and the Supreme court, politicians would fall all over themselves to pass a Constitutional amendment overruling the courts. So, this whole exercise is really completely irrelevant to real life.

One of the curious claims made by the Ninth Circuit last week was that the "God" in the pledge referred to a specific God -- the Judeo-Christian one. Well, Goldsborough blows that out of the water..Throughout his piece he refers to "God" as "She." Now, nowhere in the Torah or the Bible is God ever referred to in the feminine, so Goldsborough must be referring to another God. Which is just fine. But it kinda goes to show you that the Pledge is not necessarily part of some plot by the religious right to indoctrinate little public school kids into Christianity. I mean, if it was, it's an utter failure.

The Founding Fathers put God in the Declaration of Independence, we hear, what better proof they did not intend to separate church and state? Separation, we hear, is an invention of modern secularists (the nice word for atheists), not of the Founding Fathers.

Don't believe it. This republic was founded by deists, people fleeing Europe's theistic thought police, and they were not about to put religion in the Constitution. The Declaration of Independence refers to "Nature's God," a deistic phrase Spinoza, Rousseau or Hume could easily accept.

As for the Constitution, no sign of her. The Constitution addresses religion only in the First Amendment, which tells Congress to "make no law respecting an establishment of religion." In a letter to the Danbury, Conn., Baptist Association in 1802, Thomas Jefferson explained the phrase meant that the First Amendment built a "wall of separation between church and state."

Well, as I've mentioned before, technically God is mentioned in the Constitution -- once:

Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth. [emphasis added]

Yeah, it isn't much, but if we're being as sensitive and hypercritical as the Ninth Circuit is -- it should count.

Also, the old "wall of separation" thing is getting old. Here's the entire sentence from which the famous phrase is taken.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State.

I don't know how you read it, but it looks to me as though that wall of separation is designed to keep the government out of the church. Some contend that it also means to keep the church out of government. Either way I don't think Jefferson was arguing that event he slightest mention of "God" was something that has no place in public life -- which is what the Ninth Circuit's decision taken to its logical conclusion would do.

So, what, in the end, is Goldsborough's point? Well, it looks like its kinda typical for someone of the liberal bent: We need a national health care system.

How did Goldsborough get from God being taken out of the Pledge to nationalized health care?

It's what God wants. And you thought you had to go to church on Sunday to find that out. All you needed to do was read the paper.


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July 2002



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