Okay, now listen. I have to comment on this one because frankly, my adoring fans out there are going to be shocked to learn my stance on this call.
Here’s the story: Representative Paul Broun (R-GA) has introduced a bill to be passed as a congressional resolution naming 2010 as the Year of the Bible. So far he’s been mocked by Barney Frank (“Does that mean 2009 is not the year of the Bible? What is 2012, the Year of the Quaran?”), criticized by Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) (“That’s an endorsement of religion by the federal government, and we shouldn’t be doing that!”) and even caught indignation by one left-wing blogger (“lawmakers with apparently too much time on their hands and no solutions to offer the country are pushing a resolution that will not address the nation’s problems or advance prosperity or even untangle their previous governing mistakes”). The blogger aimed that comment at Republicans, but the truth is, both sides are equally to blame for everything, so generalizing the comment toward all of Congress isn’t really taking the comment out of context as much as it is placing in the context where it really belongs.
But here’s the problem with the whole idea. The first Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law…” and a resolution isn’t a law. It is an endorsement. An endorsement is simply saying, “We recognize the value of this particular subject and we support its existence.”
But I can actually see the point that Rep. Nadler is making. The federal government doesn’t need to endorse ANY religion. Furthermore, Nadler has a spot-on argument when it comes to why the federal government shouldn’t be endorsing religion.
Representative Nadler is Jewish. Now stay with me here, it’s important to make that distinction and you’ll see why in a moment. He’s not saying that the federal government shouldn’t endorse a Christian Bible because he’s Jewish. In 2008, Nadler introduced a bill into Congress that would have overturned a federal appeals court decision that upheld a Chicago condominium board’s right to prohibit the placing of a Jewish mezuzah on door posts of condos. The condo is owned by the occupant and the board’s decision to ban mezuzahs on the doors actually does violate the rights of the Jewish occupant to engage in the practice of his religious beliefs. This was Nadler’s argument in favor of the bill and in opposition to the appeals court.
A mezuzah is a piece of parchment, inscribed with a religious text, then placed in a case and attached to a door frame. It is not unlike a Catholic hanging a crucifix on a door. Both serve to remind the practitioner of his or her religious faith. I agree that the board in Chicago stepped on some toes by banning the placement of the mezuzah on the door. But read on, my friend and you’ll see where this is going.
The reason I earlier mentioned that Nadler is Jewish is because he actually refused to place a mezuzah on the door of his congressional office even though there is one on the door of his home. Here is his reasoning for not placing the mezuzah on his office door even though he was asked by a rabbi to do so: “That’s my religious symbol, [but] the office does not belong to me; it belongs to the people of the congressional district, and no one should feel uncomfortable walking into the office if it’s not their religion.” Nadler went on to say that he doesn’t support Broun’s bill for the same reason: “It’s not everybody’s religion.”
Whoa! Wait a minute! Did a Congressman just use “common sense?” Holy Baloney Batman!
Representative Nadler actually used a fair and logical argument for why he doesn’t have a mezuzah on his office door – it isn’t his office! Nadler recognizes that the government of the United States belongs to the people not the pinheads occupying the 535 seats of Congress (for those of you who were educated in public school, that’s 435 in the House and 100 in the Senate). None of those people own those offices; those offices belong to the people of the states which the occupants of that office represent. Apparently that is something that people like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have forgotten.
Now for the real shocker: I, your humble correspondent, agree with Rep. Nadler.
Wait! Huh? D.E., you’re agreeing with a Democrat!
Yes, I am. I believe, as Rep. Nadler does that the halls of Congress (the U.S. Capitol and the office buildings where the Congress have their desks) belong to the people of the United States of America and not to the occupants to whom those offices have been given. As such and out of respect for the First Amendment as well as the rights of others to practice whatever religion they want, I do not believe that our Congress should be toying with bills of any kind that favor one religion over another. What We the People do in our private lives is our business.
Those of you who are frothing Republicans who feel I have betrayed the movement can take heart that I never really was a Republican. I’m not a Neo-Con either. I am an American who is concerned about his country. Besides, the same attempt to pass such a resolution didn’t pass last year either. Although it has happened: in 1983 under Ronald Reagan.