Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Keeping God
Inside the Beltway has learned that Coast Guard Commandant Adm. James Loy has quietly reversed a policy decision and will restore “in the Year of Our Lord” to official documents.
On behalf of a Coast Guardsman, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon wrote to the admiral expressing his constituents dissatisfaction over the lack of action to remove reference of religious deities on documents, including diplomas and retirement certificates.
In a letter to Mr. Wyden, Coast Guard Cmdr. Thomas K. Richey says the Guard instead reviewed case law and court interpretations regarding the phrase, and will reverse its earlier decision to drop the words.
“The courts have ruled that the phrase is ceremonial and non-secular in nature,” Cmdr. Richey notes. “However, in order to accommodate who may have objections to the phrase … we have developed alternative documents.”
The constituent, the commander adds, was presented with one such certificate upon his retirement a few weeks ago.

Chairman Bennett?

William Bennett, former education secretary and drug czar, is the name we hear to become the next presidentially appointed chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The commission is currently chaired by former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and consists of nine board members, including Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, head of the Washington Catholic Archdiocese, and former Assistant Secretary of State John R. Bolton — all of their terms are set to expire May 14.
Of late, commissioners testified seven times before Congress, held hearings in India, Pakistan and Vietnam, and interviewed numerous representatives of victims of religious liberty violations.

Higher than Newt

Michael Cronin, one-time congressional aide to former Rep. Tim Penny, Minnesota Democrat, was back on Capitol Hill, albeit sporting a new collar.
One worn by a Catholic priest.
Father Cronin gave politics a shot 13 years ago after graduating from college, but after two years in the hallowed halls of Congress he heard a far higher calling than that of lawmakers, leaving in 1990 to pursue studies for the priesthood. Father Cronin, a priest in Minnesota, was Congress guest chaplain last week.

Confederate Americans

A follow to our item last week on a federal hearing in Alexandria to grant national origin status to “Confederate-Americans,” a motion by the Southern Legal Resource Center on behalf of Labor Department employee Don Terrill: denied by Chief Judge Claude M. Hilton of the Eastern District of Virginia, who said he had no authority to issue such status.

Black history

Two outspoken congressmen from opposing parties are joining forces for the sake of their black heritage.
House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts Jr., Oklahoma Republican, and Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat, will introduce legislation this week to establish a National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington.
The new museum would be housed in the Smithsonians Arts and Industries Building and would house a permanent collection of artifacts and historical materials showcasing over 400 years of black history and culture in this country.

Lincoln log

We thought we knew our American history until author and syndicated columnist Joe Sobran gave a lecture at Christendom College in Front Royal.
Speaking on Abraham Lincoln, Mr. Sobran told his audience that although Lincoln is possibly “the most venerated president of all time,” there are some facts about him and his presidency that are oftentimes overlooked by historians, particularly historians north of the Mason-Dixon line.
Lincoln, he said, is rightly known for his personal humility, mercy and generosity, as well as his eloquence in speaking. But the most significant achievement attributed to Lincoln, that of abolishing slavery, may not, according to Mr. Sobran, actually have been Lincolns intent.
Contrary to popular opinion, Lincoln was not opposed to slavery itself, rather “he opposed the spread of slavery. Lincoln was not only no abolitionist but was willing to represent a client who was seeking to recover a fugitive slave.”
“Lincolns opposition to the spread of slavery resulted in his belief in colonization,” and sending the former slaves back to Africa would spare the United States what Lincoln called “the troublesome presence of the free Negroes.”
This idea of colonization, Lincoln believed, would have been just to both races.
Mr. Sobran quoted Lincoln as saying, “Freed Negroes would not be allowed to vote, to serve as jurors, to hold public office, or to intermarry with whites. We cannot make them our equals.”

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