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« Thought for the day | Main | A Chance Encounter »

January 20, 2009

Under God

From Chuck's BreakPoint commentary for today:

There’s a ceremony going on in Washington today that’s the stuff that nightmares are made of—that is if you belong to the ACLU. At noon, the Chief Justice of the United States will ask Barack Obama to place his hand on the Bible—the one used by Abraham Lincoln in 1861—and to swear allegiance to the Constitution. The oath will end with the words “so help me God.” Even worse, this theocratic moment will include a prayer by an evangelistic minister, one Rick Warren.

The ceremony is a perfect example of why the separation of church and state is an elite fiction that bears little resemblance to how democracy really works. . . .

Despite the efforts of both the courts and the elites to purge the public square of all religious influences, these ties to religion keep popping up in the most unlikely places. As Smolin writes, “a policy of acting neutral among religions, or between religion and non-religion... has never [been] successfully carried out.”

This history is what lies behind all the politically incorrect religiosity you’ll see during today’s inauguration. Americans are a religious people. And it’s only fitting that this quality be reflected in the ceremony that marks the orderly transfer of political power. Our prayers and oaths are an acknowledgment that, however imperfect, we are a “nation under God”—that we’re under His judgment and protection. They’re an attempt to connect the profane work of governance to a sacred, transcendent order.
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Comments

LeeQuod

While I agree with almost everything Chuck has ever said or written, I do wish that he and other leaders would distinguish clearly between "a Christian nation" and "a nation of Christians". The former refers to a nation where Christian principles are used to guide the nation, irrespective of the beliefs of any individual or group. The latter refers to a condition where the government coerces the beliefs of its citizens. The proponents of separation of church and state use this ambiguity to claim they are working to avoid the latter, while in reality they are dismantling the former.

So even if President Obama doesn't personally believe that we are under God's judgment and protection, he's obliged to behave as if we are. And that is a source of great comfort.

Zoe Sandvig

I did think it was ironic that although Obama referred to America as a nation of Christians, Muslims, Jews, non-believers, etc., only the Christian God was appealed to in prayer.

Sam McCormick

Thank you for a great synopsis, as usual!

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