- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2003

This column has obtained the written “key points” from a just-held senior staff meeting of the District of Columbia’s Office of Tax and Revenue.
The OTR’s mission, as its name suggests, is “to collect the proper amount of tax due to the District and correctly account for all revenue, while minimizing the burden on taxpayers and cost to the government.”
However, your tax dollars are going a whole lot further.
During the meeting, senior staff of the OTR were paid a visit by Teresa Wilson, an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission officer for the District.
She lectured the senior tax collectors on the correct definition of sexual harassment, encouraged them to “be sensitive to others” and stressed that “we must embrace a diverse workplace.”
And last, but not least, the EEOC officer advised, “Avoid religious references in messages and greetings.”
Justice for God
Keeping on the subject of “disinviting” God from public spaces, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reminds Americans that the constitutional amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion did not intend to exclude God from public forums.
“He criticized court decisions in recent years that have outlawed expressions of religious faith in public events,” writes the Arlington Catholic Herald, after covering Justice Scalia’s keynote address at a Religious Freedom Day ceremony sponsored by the Rappahannock Assembly of the Knights of Columbus.
The annual ceremony commemorates the drafting of the Virginia Statute by Thomas Jefferson, which later became the model for the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Justice Scalia drew attention to the myriad expressions of religious faith now deeply rooted in our daily lives: U.S. coins stamped “In God We Trust,” opening prayers in Congress and court proceedings, and chaplains accompanying our military into battle.
Upon the conclusion of his remarks, Justice Scalia placed a wreath at the foot of a Religious Freedom Monument in Fredericksburg, and then several hundred people joined him as he began singing “God Bless America.”
Spiritual awakening
Among the many magazines this columnist enjoys reading is Teen People (hey, my 14-year-old is a subscriber), which apart from the latest buzz on J. Lo and Ben Affleck reveals in its March issue that “religion plays a surprisingly important role in lots of teens’ lives.”
Editors of the magazine said they were surprised when 68 percent of the teens they polled believe that prayer should be allowed in public schools.
Forty-four percent say they already pray in school, regardless of federal rules.
In addition, 88 percent of the teens believe in heaven, 74 percent believe in hell and 72 percent say they would never convert to another religion.
Among those religions: 76 percent of the teens polled were Christian, 5 percent Jewish, 4 percent “nondenominationally spiritual,” 4 percent atheist, 3 percent pagans, 2 percent agnostic, 0.5 percent Muslim, 0.4 percent Buddhist, and 5 percent other.
Reinventing the wheel
Inside the Beltway yesterday caught up with a descendent of Capt. John Smith who has created a novel way to honor America and President Bush.
John D. Smith, president of Clever Covers in Orlando, Fla., has just introduced a set of patriotic, highway-safe wheel covers featuring the American flag and a giant color photo of President Bush.
Mr. Smith says his patented wheel covers, which fasten to tires like hubcaps, combine Mr. Bush’s popularity and American citizens’ penchant for using their vehicles to promote everything from political affiliations to patriotism.
“They’re more colorful and attention-getting than bumper stickers or car flags,” says Mr. Smith. “Our presidential wheel covers turn a lot of heads.”
In this case, one of those heads is that of Mr. Bush, whose face is right-side-up only part of the time.
“Democrats and comedians must smile,” says Mr. Smith, “as on the road at least, the president changes his position frequently.”
Among those who like the product is Orlando Republican mayoral candidate Pete Barr Sr., who says they “do a great job of honoring a man I’ve known for 34 years.”
Given that Mr. Smith is a “nonpartisan entrepreneur,” he tells this column he’s working on a line of Democratic-contender wheel covers (www.clevercover.com or toll free 877/253-8371).
However, given the lack of a Democratic front-runner, he has to hold off on production.

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