Slow on the uptake
THE MILITARY has been making a good-faith effort in recent months to write rules on religious activities that preserve both the rights of free expression among service members and the separation of church and state. It's unfortunate, therefore, that the House of Representatives, responding to pressure from evangelical Christian groups, has unnecessarily inserted itself into this debate, with a provision in the recent defense authorization bill aimed at ensuring that evangelical chaplains can pray in Jesus's name at public ceremonies. The Senate is debating a version that wisely leaves out the House provision and lets the military services continue to work out this complex issue the right way -- without congressional interference.I guess the evangelical moonbats and their pandering congresscritters learned nothing from the Schiavo fiasco. What part of this is not clear?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.Talk about succinct.
Yesterday, I emailed my Dad (happy Father's Day!) an article about his congressman, Rep. Walter B Jones (R-NC), that was complimentary of his position with regards to the inane "debate" on the Rethuglican majority's nonbinding resolution on the GWOT.
Indeed, the so-called "debate" Congress had this week was, in fact, largely Jones' idea. A few months ago, it was Jones who sent a letter around to his colleagues calling for "an open and honest debate on the future of U.S. policy in Iraq." He wanted 17 hours of debate on the House floor on whether lawmakers believe Bush should "develop and implement a plan for the withdrawal" of U.S. troops. When House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed to hold just such a debate, Jones was thrilled. Finally, he thought, the House could engage in some serious discussion about the most important issue facing the country.Well, apparently Rep. Jones (of Freedom Fries fame) has been listening to too many televangelists:
Then the GOP leadership decided to shuffle the deck a bit and "improve" on the idea of a floor debate. It was a classic bait and switch: Republican leaders promised a debate on the war, but delivered a debate on whether "the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror." No amendments or changes were allowed. Is Jones still pleased? Not so much.
Jones now says he feels duped by his own party's leadership. "Maybe I should have been less trusting, but I felt it would be a debate that would allow us to talk about policy," Jones told me. "I don't see how we would have gotten hurt if we had allowed members of both parties to go down to the floor to offer an amendment."
Though the Air Force regulations were watered down from their initial stance, they were still too restrictive for some evangelical groups. So the House stepped in with a provision, championed by Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. (R-N.C.), heavy on the rights of chaplains and light on concerns about how their public prayer could affect service members who are nonbelievers or who adhere to a different religion.Sad, really.
Maybe the solution isn't to drain prayer at public ceremonies of specific religious content, but to discourage prayer at such events as inherently and unnecessarily divisive. Chaplains shouldn't be required to mute their faith, but neither should service members who aren't believers be compelled to be present for such prayers.Exactly. For that matter, leave well enough alone.