May 15 2019
‘So Help Me God’ No More: Democrats and Schools Ban the Lord
The witness rose from her seat, raised her right hand and swore to tell the truth before Congress. But four…
The witness rose from her seat, raised her right hand and swore to tell the truth before Congress. But four words were missing: “So help me God.”
In the House of Representatives, to the winner go the spoils, and Democrats, the new decision makers, control everything, including what legislation gets a vote and the minutiae of procedural choices, such as whether witnesses must utter the traditional plea for divine aid. Democratic chairmen and chairwomen of several key committees have deemed no such entreaty is necessary.
“I think God belongs in religious institutions: in temple, in church, in cathedral, in mosque — but not in Congress,” said Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. What Republicans are doing, he continued, “is using God.”
“And God doesn’t want to be used,” he said.
No surprise, Republican lawmakers are staging a form of protest, jumping in when they can to point out each omission in real time.
“I am a sinner, I make mistakes every single day, but I do think that we could use a little more of God, not less,” Representative Garret Graves of Louisiana earnestly told his colleagues seated around the dais of the House Natural Resources Committee.
The single change that has prompted the most ire is what Republicans contend is a concerted effort to omit the phrase “so help me God” when administering witness oaths. They point to examples on the Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, and Natural Resources committees; each person presiding over the panels has the power to decide to administer an oath as well as what that oath says.
But like most Washington spats, the truth is more complicated. When Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado, who heads the House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee, conducted a hearing and swore the witnesses in without the phrase, for example, Representative Jeff Duncan, Republican of South Carolina, jumped in to point out that “the oath was incorrect and incomplete.”
“This is the oath we use,” Ms. DeGette replied, “and that’s the oath we’re going to use today.”
Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, scoffed to Fox News that House Democrats “really have become the party of Karl Marx.”
Arguments have troubled Republicans like Mr. Johnson, who has been on the front lines of efforts to make the oath invoke God again. He pulled Mr. Nadler aside on the House floor to discuss the issue and directed his office to produce short video montages illustrating it. He believes in the cause.
“The intention behind it was to express the idea that the truth of what was being said was important not just in the moment, but would go into eternity, and someone was watching and would ultimately be our judge,” Mr. Johnson said. “Some would call that mere symbolism, but to many of our founders, it was deeper than that.”
Mr. Johnson said he would continue his crusade, and he has already seen some results. (Read More)
Pennsylvania School Drops ‘God Bless America’ After Freedom From Religion Complains
A Pennsylvania elementary school principal will no longer say “God Bless America” following the Pledge of Allegiance after the district received a legal complaint on behalf of a parent who claimed that doing so broke the law.
Peter Brigg, the principal of Sabold Elementary School in Springfield, would say the phrase after reciting the pledge over the loudspeaker.
At least one parent filed a complaint to the Freedom From Religion Foundation. An attorney from the group sent a letter to the district complaining that publicly announcing the expression violated the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition of government sponsoring religious messages.
“‘God Bless America’ is a prayer … A Prayer hosted by a publicly supported school does not pass constitutional muster,” the foundation said.
The district released a statement Friday confirming that it received a complaint that reciting the words “God Bless America” over the loudspeaker “violated the law” and that it would stop the practice immediately.
“In accordance with District protocol, this complaint was forwarded to our District Solicitor’s Office. Based on the Solicitor’s legal research and recommendation, we ceased this practice. Continuation of any practices that may be unlawful would only expose the District to litigation, which the local taxpayers would have to financially support,” the statement read.
The district went on to say that the administration never altered the recitation of the pledge and that students would still be able to say “God Bless America” after if they choose to do so. (Read More)
Atheist Group Convinces School ‘God bless America’ is illegal Prayer
FFRF bragged in a press release, in fact, that its complaint was met with “receptive ears” from the school’s legal counsel and from Superintendent Anthony Barber.
When a complaint reaches them, atheist groups such as FFRF are ready to pounce on a public school, or a city council or county commission, with a letter warning that the public body is violating the U.S. Constitution, and there is often the warning that a lawsuit is coming unless they back down.
Meanwhile, religious liberty groups such as First Liberty Institute, Alliance Defending Freedom, and Becket are often contacted too late to reassure worried public officials that they are not violating the U.S. Constitution.
Such groups also routinely promise to defend the public bodies pro bono from a lawsuit.
Jeremy Dys of First Liberty Institute tells OneNewsNow he was bothered that the school’s attorney took the complaint seriously and advised school officials to cave.
“If your school district gets that kind of a call, or gets that letter,” Dys advises, “it is very simple: Ignore it. It’s not worth the paper it’s written on.”
In fact, FFRF made some creative legal claims in its March letter to Superintendent Barber. He was told by an FFRF attorney that the phrase “God bless America” is an illegal prayer because the original song by Irving Berlin begins with lyrics about raising voices “in a solemn prayer.”
If that phrase sounds unfamiliar to Americans who have belted out the song at a ballgame or a NASCAR race, it is because Berlin’s introductory lyrics (see video below) aren’t known by many who otherwise cherish the song.
Berlin, who was Jewish, penned the song while in the U.S. Army during World War I only to put it away until Adolph Hitler rose to power in Germany in the 1930s.
Yet the FFRF attorney seemed to depend on a Wikipedia entry to make the claim that the song “God Bless America” is a prayer because the introduction mentions prayer, and so the attorney claimed to Barber that the public school was therefore allowing an illegal, unconstitutional three-word prayer over its school intercom because the patriotic song with the same title begins with an introduction that mentions prayer.
“A prayer hosted by a publicly supported school does not pass constitutional muster,” the letter to Barber warned.
The FFRF states in its press release that it receives “constant complaints” about the phase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance but the courts are not sympathetic to those complains.
“The pledge was tampered with in 1954,” the press release states, referring to President Dwight D. Eisenhower urging Congress to add the words to distinguish the U.S. from the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.
“Unfortunately,” the atheist group complains, “attempts to litigate this addition into the pledge, which equates piety with patriotism, have been unsuccessful.”
That is why FFRF was only able to urge the school to drop “God bless America,” the group stated. (Read More)