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Maybe traditional values aren't so bad

August 28, 2005|By Dee Mayberry

Theses days everybody has something to worry about.

Hagerstown looks at problems of running the city, the county gets into a complicated zoning matter. The country reacts to Supreme Court decisions about taking property and where to place the Ten Commandments. On top of everything, gas prices are too high and promising to go higher.

People may have to prioritize their worries and here is a starting point: Since the highest court in the land has decided it owns God, it can decide where his lessons should be placed. Like TV material unsuitable for children, God's word can be hidden from vulnerable ears and eyes.

Those fussy, old moral lessons he handed to Moses should be absorbed only in "appropriate" places. Otherwise he could be said to interfere with misinterpretation of the doctrine of separation of church and state.


How in the world did this country get itself so involved in the politicization of God? Have we been so inattentive to the stupid (or vicious or publicity-happy) that we actually believe God threatens our national institutions, our form of government, our very freedoms? Does anyone really believe we are in danger of becoming a theocracy ruled by some sort of ayatollah?

Even those who are not believers cannot be threatened. If they don't think God exists, he can't harm them or their way of life. Put another way, if he isn't real, if he is an opiate for the masses, his teaching can't hurt anyone.

The majority of Americans are believers and probably want to see him around. There was a time when people invited him into school every morning, combining a prayer with the Pledge of Allegiance. Once, young people had Christmas and Easter vacation, not winter and spring break. Not too far back, Jewish children brought draedels to show and tell and Christian kids angled for the chance to portray Mary or Joseph in holiday pageants. People with and without faith celebrated Thanksgiving. Nobody needed to discuss who got the thanks for good harvest and good cooking.

Today, the high court wants us to rein in all this God stuff. It offends a tiny fraction of the population ... maybe. Perhaps it does not offend so much as the lawsuits create opportunity for moments in the limelight, a chance to beat the chest and say "look at me."

Some think all this has slipped up on us through the wily hand of Beelzebub. They may be right. Another view, however, says it happens when too many people fall asleep at the switch. It's trite but true to note that freedom - including freedom of worship - comes at a price.

Dozing away, we can lose the best of our Judeo-Christian inheritance. As we allow so many things to be changed, as we chip away at one tradition after another, we come up with today.

We actually have a Supreme Court, deliberating near a frieze of the delivery of the Ten Commandments, deciding we can put God and his commandments on one public corner but not on another. What kind of nonsense is that?

As people think about the fight over a new Supreme Court justice, they need to take a look at what the courts have done to us so far. The president was told the U.S. Senate wants someone who is bland and acceptable to all or he will have one devil of a row from those we have elected to serve in that body.

The word from Capitol Hill is the president's current nominee will get through no matter how much dust is kicked up by the minority. George Bush sent forward a man known to be strict about respecting the Constitution. Nasty words streamed out immediately but, wait, suddenly the existing court came out with a "social decision" about taking people's houses.

Maybe voters would like a less liberal kind of court after all. Maybe the stick-to-Constitution John Roberts should have better treatment than originally planned.

A lot of people are thoroughly sick of hearing that "things have changed," implying that the foundations of the most powerful nation in the world really are obsolete, creaky, and worthless.

We are long overdue for an end to preoccupation with self instead of country. It's time to wake up and give a thought to where small groups have been taking our nation and its time-tested values.

Dee Mayberry is a Boonsboro resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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