JWR Roger SimonMona CharenLinda Chavez
Jacob SullumJonathan S. Tobin
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Don FederCal Thomas
Left, Right & Center
Jewish World Review / March 16, 1998 / 18 Adar, 5758

Don Feder

Don Feder Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives

IF ENACTED, the Religious Freedom Amendment, scheduled for a House vote next month, could mark the beginning of the end of G-d's 36-year exile from our public lives.

I just returned from Havana. While many Cubans cling to their faith (and others have rediscovered religion), around 1959, the regime put G-d on a raft pointed toward Miami.

Surveying the nation's ruin,church-state it seems that Cuba's poverty isn't due solely to the laws of economics, but is in part an impoverishment of the spirit.

The suffering of the Cuban people made me again cognizant of the bounty Americans enjoy. We are so blessed because our society was founded and for almost 200 years was guided by principles exactly the opposite of those that hold sway in Cuba today.

These ideals are clearly enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, with its observation that men are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." They're in the writings of the Founding Fathers and our patriotic music from the Star Spangled Banner ("And this be our motto, in G-d is our trust") to "Good Bless America." The speeches of Washington, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt reflect a religious worldview.

Not coincidentally, America's moral decline in the '60s coincided with the Supreme Court's eviction of G-d from the schoolhouse. Today, we have turned our backs on Him -- not as individuals, but as a society and through our government.

Our children can't voluntarily pray in public schools. An Alabama judge was forbidden to display the Ten Commandments (the genesis of our laws) in his courtroom. San Francisco was compelled to remove a cross that had been displayed in a public park for 65 years.

In Rhode Island, a rabbi's graduation invocation was deemed "psychological coercion" by the Supreme Court, which also upheld a zero grade given a Tennessee student on a paper of her choice about a historical figure. (She chose Jesus.) The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission almost succeeded in creating a religion-free workplace, where religious articles on an employee's desk would have constituted harassment.

Our culture has become a spiritual wasteland. Movies, music and television wallow in the sordid. Celebrities are the proud producers of bastards. The Boy Scouts are under attack for clinging to moral standards.

The New York Times informs us that "an estimated 10 million to 12 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections are reported each year," not including AIDS.

The fact that a majority of Americans believe the president is lying about his relationship with a White House intern barely out of adolescence, but an even larger majority thinks that president is doing a good job, is evidence of relativism run rampant.

As for the Religious Freedom Amendment (House Joint Resolution 78) -- sponsored by Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., and 150 of his colleagues -- it does no more than clarify and reaffirm the First Amendment's original intent.

The proposal reads in part: "Neither the United States nor any State shall establish any official religion. ... Neither the United States nor any State shall require any person to join in prayer or other religious activity (or) prescribe school prayer."

At the same time, "The people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage or traditions on public property, including schools, shall not be infringed."

This will end the tyranny of the secular minority and reverse judicial rewrites of the First Amendment in ways to make it unrecognizable to its authors -- a fact not lost on liberals, whose opposition is increasingly agitated.

Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., charges "the real import is to force the government to fund religious organizations." It would, in fact, create funding equality. If a secular group gets tax dollars, a religious group with the same purpose would also qualify.

Concern about the local parochial school benefitting from vouchers (should they ever come to pass) verges on the hilarious -- given government funding of such notoriously anti-Judeo Christian groups as Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women's Legal Defense Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A great rabbi once asked his disciples, "Where is G-d?" "In the synagogue," answered one. "Everywhere," said another. "No," said the rabbi, "G-d is where we allow Him to be."

The fate of Ishtook's amendment will determine where we, as a society, are willing to sanction His presence.


3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
12/22/97: No merry Christmas for persecuted Christians around the world
12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.