As I type this, it is late in the afternoon of August 16, a few hours before yet another political milestone. Barack Obama and John McCain (also known as the forgetful one) will be debating at a famous mega-church, where they will woo the faithful. And as I wait to switch on the tube in order to allow my blood pressure to reach impressive heights, I am confronted by a vision. One I choose to call secular.
I see, in my despair, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings – the latter now a Caucasian, the better to match her heavenly white robe – cavorting with a bevy of angels. And Tommy – in midst-cavort – is taking time out to wonder what in the earthly world has happened to the separation of church and state.
Has it fallen prey to political pandering? Why are these United States united in mandating statements from candidates for the presidency to declare their allegiance and reliance on faith? Not just reliance and allegiance, but how faith has informed them in the past; continues to inspire them in the present; and will keep them from any tragic errors in judgment in the uncertain future?
My support for, and admiration of, Barack Obama is without boundaries, and I am sure he attends church for deeply-held reasons, many having to do with his two young daughters who he wants to have a grounding in Christianity. I cannot speak for McCain; yea, verily, the man has difficulty even speaking for himself. But to, yes, mandate that candidates must assure voters to vote for them because of their religious beliefs would seem to run counter to a freedom not only of religion, but from religion. Indeed, to the aforesaid separation of worship and politics.
It is almost 8 p.m., and I must indulge in masochism by watching grown men competing for prospective voters’ votes by seeing who can proclaim his faith the loudest. I hope to derive some small comfort by imaging Mr. Jefferson wondering – shaking his head – over this transformation of our Republic into a theocracy.