Cal  Thomas

Among the few advantages of changing residences is going through stuff you have saved, believing it might someday be useful.

While moving, I found a box with a nearly 30-year-old Associated Press story that has particular relevance in light of the continuing legal, social and religious debate over symbols like the Ten Commandments on public property in Alabama.

In the midst of the furor over Watergate and the Vietnam War when public trust in government and cynicism about almost everything ran deep, Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) introduced a resolution for an unofficial "national day of humiliation, fasting and prayer" that would set aside April 30 (1974) as a day to "repent of our national sins."

The Senate then got into a debate over the meaning of "humiliation." Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) said that a "spirit of humbleness and gratitude for the many blessings we have is one thing, but if there is any suggestion that we as a nation and people should feel humiliated, I can't agree." Goldwater added he was particularly concerned that "someone in a godless country (might) think we are ashamed of our country."

Sen. Lawton Chiles (D-Fla.) responded that the resolution was not intended to make Americans ashamed of their country but "to show a little humility before the Creator."

It's worrisome when Congress thinks it needs to defend or proclaim faith, especially when it has difficulty solving the temporal problems members have been elected to address. And I worry more when people who say they serve a King and Kingdom that is "not of this world" call upon government to proclaim their particular faith. My worry is not for the reasons stated by those bringing lawsuits to cleanse the public square of any reference to God. It is for the believers who are distracted from the main and more difficult task their heavenly Commander-in-Chief has called upon them to do. They are focused on trivialities and diverted from more important work.

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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