Saturday, August 26, 2006

Separation Anxiety

Why is it so difficult for politicians in our society to grasp the concept of separation of church and state? Lately, political leaders at various levels have shown themselves to be downright ignorant of this fairly basic tenet of our governmental system.

First it was Florida's Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, Katherine Harris, claiming that a vote against a Christian was akin to a vote for sin.

Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) said this week that God did not intend for the United States to be a "nation of secular laws" and that the separation of church and state is a "lie we have been told" to keep religious people out of politics.

"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris told interviewers from the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She cited abortion and same-sex marriage as examples of that sin.

With every passing day, Rep. Harris appears to shovel another pile of earth onto the pine planks of her rapidly vanishing, political casket. It's looking more and more like her future Sundays will be spent in church rather than on the political discussion shows. I'm sure her pastor will be tickled pink to see her odd, cosmetically-altered mug gracing the pews of his house of worship come January. Better there than on my television screen, thank you very much!

In another instance of political God-mongering, several cities in Texas are banding together to proclaim September 3rd as an official day of prayer. What will they be praying for?

Deliverance from evil?

A Tom Delay victory in November?

A nuclear holocaust in Iran?

Nope on all accounts. In fact, they will be praying for...rain.

I swear, you just can't make this stuff up!

Conservation hasn't kept North Texas water supplies from dwindling, and waiting for rain hasn't worked.

So Rockwall County's political leaders are looking to a higher power.

"All of us can come together as a county and recognize what we're going through and focus on the issue and then ask God for some relief," Rockwall Mayor Bill Cecil said.

Mr. Cecil, five counterparts – the mayors of Rowlett, Heath, Royse City, Fate and McLendon-Chisholm – and County Judge Bill Bell plan to proclaim Sept. 3 a day of prayer for rain.

They're asking religious leaders throughout the county to lead their congregations in prayer for an end to the drought, for weather patterns to get back to normal and for North Texas reservoirs to be refilled.

"It can't hurt," Fate Mayor David Hill said.

"Way back in time, people used to do rain dances. If we have to get out and do a rain dance, we'll do that, too."

The power of prayer seemed to work briefly during Monday night's Rockwall City Council meeting. Barely an hour after council member Tim McCallum asked for rain during the invocation, the skies opened up.

The brief shower did little but dampen the streets, however.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Dunn chuckled when told of the prayer plans in Rockwall County. If the appeal for reservoirs to be filled is answered, he indicated, people should brace themselves for an extended period of storms.

"We're going to need several months of above-normal rainfall," Mr. Dunn said. "It's not going to be anything that's going to come overnight."

As the drought has continued, reservoir levels have steadily declined. Lake Lavon – one of the primary water sources for the North Texas Municipal Water District, which supplies Rockwall, northeastern Dallas, Collin and Kaufman counties – is about 15 feet below normal. Many other lakes, including Lewisville and Grapevine, are down 10 feet or more.

Mr. Cecil said that although all of North Texas needs rain, he is keeping his focus close to home. Heath Mayor John Ratcliffe said that, if nothing else, the countywide prayer will lead to more awareness of the drought.

"I see a call for prayer as a good thing if it accomplishes nothing other than bringing people together," he said.

Personally, I hope the Christian "rain dance" does some good. My lawn really could use the moisture. However, I'm just not sure that political leaders should be the ones to push a religious solution to such a problem. For one thing, it makes them look ignorant of the very basic tenet of separation of church and state. Secondly - and, perhaps, more importantly - it makes them look downright silly.

But, then, what do I know? I'm a Democrat - and a non-religious one, at that. Perhaps they should be praying for me instead!


At 9:37 AM, Blogger JAKinTT said...

Nice blog, that praying for rain is such BS. Its sad when elected officials are promoting this.

At 4:10 PM, Blogger DrewL said...

Hey, if they want to do that stuff in their respective houses of worship or on their personal time, go right ahead. But to use their positions as political officeholders to promote that sort of thing isn't, in my book.

Even if they just said something off the cuff, like, "It's really been dry around here lately so everyone pray for rain," that would be fine. But to actively organize and promote an official day of prayer is just going too far.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Blueberry said...

They did that in Lubbock about a month ago. Same kind of deal. Funny, because right after that, El Paso started having floods so I guess the prayer results backfired and missed.

At 8:41 PM, Blogger DrewL said...

Be careful what you pray for!

At 10:23 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

No kidding!

As for Ms. Harris, she has claimed it was all a misunderstanding (on our parts) (there's a link on my blog). Sad part is that she just might win, will probably be the GOP person because of competitor vote-splitting. Not sure if she will in turn beat the Dem.

At 10:08 PM, Blogger DrewL said...

I don't think she has a, uh, prayer of winning against Sen. Nelson in the general election. She's proven herself to be too whacked-out even for many on the right. It would take some SERIOUS Republican chicanery for her to come close to winning. Of course, we've seen plenty of chicanery in Florida before, haven't we?


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