Thursday, January 13, 2005

Knickers in a twist about prayer

President Bush's inaugration on January 20th contains the usual extraordinary anomaly of public prayer. And we are not surprised that a small group of citizens is going to the courts to challenge its constitutionality.

An opening invocation will be delivered by The Reverend Dr. Luis León. The closing benediction prayer will be by offered up by Pastor Kirbyjon H. Caldwell.

Americans are all over the map on church and state. As we say in Britain - they have their knickers in a twist - where knickers means underpants!

They (and I generalize grossly) do not understand what is meant by the words "an establishment" in the First Amendment, and many of them think that the words "building a wall of separation between Church and State," are actually in the Constitution (No!). In truth, Thomas Jefferson coined these words in a communication to the Danbury Baptist Association.

I'm not going to deal with the technicalities here - but I will later. Here is the extraordinary inconsistency:
  • The President is allowed to have a pastor lead in public prayer at his inauguration, but schools and sporting events may not have public prayer.
  • The state can pay for the House and Senate to have a chaplain but no such religious person would be employed in a public school.
  • The President will take an oath of office with his hand on a Bible, but a court house may not have a small extract from the Bible (the Ten Commandments) on the wall.
As I say - these guys have their knickers in a twist!

Spin, spin, spin if you will, you legal whizz-kids, you constitutional jurists. But you dig the hole deeper.