Do you believe in Miracles?

Most Americans will remember that famous line uttered by sportscaster Al Michaels as he called the final seconds in the 1980 Olymic Hockey tournament semi-finals pitting the US team versus the powerful Soviet team. The US had won 4-3 and the next day beat Finland to win its first Gold medal in hockey since 1960.

A major motion picture called “Miracle” debuts on February 6th which tells the story of the 1980 team and its coach Herb Brooks who did the impossible.

You just had to either be there or have seen it on the tube to understand how incredible the 1980 US Hockey victory over the Soviets was.

The USSR had not lost the Gold medal since 1960 when the US team won it in Squaw Valley and the Soviets had won 21 straight Olympic games before that night.

While the US team was made up of college players (amateurs) the Soviet team was made up of the best players in the USSR who all happened to be in the military. Their job was to play hockey so they were really professionals paid under the table so they could be passed off as amateurs.

The US team hadn’t been in contention for a hockey medal since 1960 and they were seeded 7th in the 1980 tournament out of 12 teams.

The US team jelled during the tournament and as they won games the momentum built so when the Soviet match came up people were stoked. Millions watched the game on the tube. Most were hopeful the US would win but no one really thought they could. The Soviets were too tough and too professional for the gang of college kids.

The US team got lucky in the match as the Soviets dominated play through out. The US winning goal came with 10 minutes left and they had to hang on to win. That is why it was a miracle and the best US Olympic victory in history.

The victory made people forget for a time the funk we were in with the Cold War, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the hostages in Iran, the haunting memories of Vietnam, and the terrible economy.

Every time they show those scenes of the final seconds ticking off, the gloves and sticks flying into the air, and Al Michaels now famous statement, I can’t help but be transported back to that cold February night in 1980 when I saw one of the greatest sports drama played out live on television. It made me a hockey fan to this day.

When did religion become a test for elected office?

Most people should know that the US Constitution contains a clause that prohibits religious test as a qualification to hold elective office. In case you don’t know it is Article 6

“but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

So there is a prohibition against laws from the Federal to local level that would create a test on the religious beliefs of elected officials and those who want to be elected.

Why then is there a trend of city and town councils falling over themselves to proclaim they not only believe in god but that their power to govern is ordained by that deity.

Here are two cases to illustrate what I am talking about:

In my boyhood hometown of Findlay, Ohio, the city council decided to give the council president the sole authority to invite members of the community to lead the council in prayer at the start of their meetings.

In March 2002, Council President Robert Schuck first proposed the idea but there was enough council members who were opposed so the idea was dropped. Former council members John Sausser and Marcia Barkey said religion is a private, not public, matter. Former council member Robert Nichols was concerned about fairness. All three ended their terms on council on Dec. 31.

In an article in the January 21, 2004 Findlay (OH) Courier, Schuck said, “The majority of council is now supportive of the idea”. He also noted religious leaders and community members from diverse denominations will be invited and at times council will just observe a moment of silence.

What is his qualifications to decide which religious beliefs would be allowed to lead the prayer? Is that in the job description of council president?

The government can’t and shouldn’t get involved in your religious beliefs and for the life of me I can’t imagine why educated elected officials of our government would want their religion involved with their governing.

Prayer opens council meeting
By DENISE GRANT
Published on January 21, 2004

*****

This dangerous trend toward religious tests for elective officials has led some towns and villages to pass resolutions declaring they believe in “God” or that our history of governing comes from the religious history of the nation.

While resolutions are not laws, which would be unconstitutional, they are none the less disturbing in light of the real history of keeping religion and government separate.

One such city that passed a resolution, Kinston, North Carolina, shows how dangerous this trend is and why it is a threat to our religious freedom.

An article in January 21, 2004 Kinston Free Press talked about the debate in city council on January 26 about a resolution that recognized God as the foundation of this country’s heritage.

Unlike the situation in Findlay, the action in Kinston actually included some debate on the issue from council members. Some argued that the resolution was not the proper use of the council’s time and effort while others adamantly claimed the council had to recognize “God”.

Council member Jimmy Cousins said, “If you are a true Christian, then it is your duty to witness. If you believe in the Bible … then that is absolute.”

“But we represent a diverse community,” Mayor Pro Tem Joe Tyson said.

“Not in my religious life, I don’t,” Cousins said.

“This isn’t a religious function. This is the City Council,” Tyson said.

“I don’t think anybody should be embarrassed to recognize God,” said Council member Alice Tingle, who asked her colleagues to consider the resolution. “It’s our job to proclaim God. He’s visible everywhere, in nature. Not doing so � that’s why we’ve gone astray in this country.”

The most disturbing part of the debate was when a letter to the editor was read at the meeting.

The letter was written by Kinston businessman Ted Sampley, who had brought the resolution to the council, which is modeled after one originally passed in Greene County, Tenn.

He wrote:

“It is the atheists, agnostics and anti-religious dissenters who should stand down and stop tying to censor and rewrite American history.”

The debate was for naught because the resolution was unanimously approved.

Kinston City Council approves God resolution
January 21,2004
Jason Spencer

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I just don’t know why educated people fall over themselves to do these things. It seems that they feel that they need acknowledgment of their beliefs every moment of every day or else they think they might go to hell.

These religious people believe that government has to acknowledge their beliefs as if the 1st Amendment isn’t enough of a protection. They mislead others into thinking that since our founders were believers that our country was created in “God’s” image. Some may think that asking for “God’s” blessings help them govern better.

Reading the details of the founding of this country shows that our founders were concerned about mixing religion and government. So much so they specifically left out references to “God” in the Constitution and wrote article 6 to prohibit religious tests.

In difference to Mr. Sampley, in Kinston, history isn’t being rewritten.

In those cases where separation of church and state is upheld, it is leading us back to the spirit of what the founder’s had in mind.

Back when the USSR existed, they had a constitution that guaranteed freedoms that in practice simply didn’t exist there. Using the religionist argument that we non-believers are rewriting history is like saying the former Soviet Union was just as democratic as the USA.

It is how we protect our freedoms than how they are written. If laws and resolutions go against the letter and spirit of those freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights then they ought not to stand and our country will be better for it. If we don’t care about putting those words into actual practice then they aren’t worth the ink used to print them.

Prayer opens council meeting?

Read this interesting story in the Findlay (Ohio) Courier on Wednesday 1/21/2004:

Prayer opens council meeting
By DENISE GRANT
STAFF WRITER

Findlay City Council, operating under new rules of order, opened its council meeting on Tuesday with an invocation led by the Rev. Ben Borsay of Gateway Church.

Council agreed earlier this month, when it adopted its new procedures for the year, to give the council president authority to invite members of the clergy and community to open its sessions with prayer.

Council members had debated the issue of adding formal prayer to council meetings in 2002, but there was enough opposition among members then that the issue was dropped.

At the time, council members Robert Nichols, Marcia Barkey and John Sausser all expressed concerns about opening council meetings with prayer. Sausser and Barkey said religion is a private, not public, matter. Nichols was concerned about fairness. All three ended their terms on council on Dec. 31.

Click here to read full story

I found the story interesting because the council, which spends time debating the importance of replacing the Bolton St. bridge after it had been closed for several years, which debated the need of the Hancock Rec Center in a city that doesn’t have enough community space as it is, and which finds a serious issue in the strength of recently installed street lights, would not only vote to allow the council president the authority to hold a prayer before the meetings but also not entertain any public input on the issue. Spending tax dollars for it as well.

I understand that religion is important to most of the community and seems to be very important to council president Schuck that he would be so adamant in getting the sole authority to decide who gives the prayer, BUT Findlay City Council has no business mixing religion and government.

As former council members Marcia Barkey and John Sausser said in 2002 as quoted in the story, religion is a personal private matter. The government can’t and shouldn’t get involved in your religious beliefs and for the life of me I can’t imagine why educated elected officials of our government would want their religion involved with their governing.

It’s like if the majority of council voted to sing the University of Michigan fight song before council meetings. Most people would agree that it wouldn’t be a proper use of council’s time and would insult those members of the community who don’t support the school up north. And I’m sure there would heated public debates about it.

I find it highly insulting to the Founders of this great country, who knew enough to keep church and state separate, that council president Schuck thinks that only prayers from different denominations or a moment of silence would be permitted. What is his qualifications to decide which religious beliefs would be allowed to lead the prayer? Is that in the job description of council president?

If Mr. Schuck is adamant about having a prayer before council meetings then he and his majority are free to meet around the flag pole in Dorney Plaza and pray. They can all then move to council chambers, call the meeting to order, and do the job they were elected to do.

Originally posted on the blog “Hancock County Politics Unfiltered”

Happy Birthday Diane Lane

Today is the 39th birthday of one of my favorite actors, Diane Lane.

I had huge crush on her after seeing “A Little Romance” in 1979 and fell for her hard in her role of Ellen Aim in the underrated film “Streets of Fire” in 1984.

She is an actress on par with Meryl Streep, in that she chooses quality projects and gives great performances. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad movie with Lane as the star – yes that includes “The Cotton Club” (which I thought was great).

Read her resume and bio

Kerry wins round one in Campaign 2004

The Iowa Caucuses have come to a close and Sen. John Kerry was the top vote getter with 38%. Sen. John Edwards surprised me by finishing in the top 3 and Gov. Howard Dean surprised me by coming in 3rd.

I think Dean let Iowa slip a bit. That and he didn’t do as well in the debate the week before.

Edwards surprised me because he hasn’t been getting a lot of press so his showing is the result of a lot of meet and greets – getting his message out the old fashion way.

Early reports have Gebhardt dropping out.

I expect the “media” to start focusing on Kerry as the new front runner even though the primary season is just starting. Lest we forget that President Clinton was beaten by Paul Tsongas in New Hampshire in 1992 and the political pundits thought Clinton was finished.

Dean has work to do to correct his slip if he is going to get win the nomination.

Edwards is going to be the wild card going into New Hampshire.