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God didn't make it to the platform on time

The  Democratic Party committed a major political faux pas this week when it left out any reference to God in the party platform.

Republicans picked up on that omission, as well as the platform's exclusion of any reference to Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a view traditionally held by both parties.

Republicans excoriated the Democrats for the exclusions. Democratic Party leaders tried to mitigate the damage by amending the language and reinserting God and Jerusalem.

However, the maneuver turned humiliating when it took three votes to make the change. Even then, it was unclear that party leaders had the necessary two-thirds vote.

On TV and YouTube videos, it looks like delegates are booing God and opposing Israel.

Not a pretty sight.

God and politics are deeply intertwined in America, even though we have, by design of our Founders, a secular government.

The country's founding document, the Declaration of Independence, references God in the first sentence and defines our unalienable rights as coming from the Creator.

But the U.S. Constitution makes no mention of God and even states (Article VI, paragraph 3) that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Still, most politicians embrace God. You can count on one hand the number of significant American political figures who were out-of-the closet atheists. Democratic Representative Pete Stark of California might be the only avowed atheist currently in Congress.

No doubt members of Congress have varying degrees of faith, but on the stump a prayer, a Biblical quote and references to God usually play well. God is good for votes, as well as for the soul.

Historians are still debating Abraham Lincoln's religiosity. Whatever his core convictions were, Lincoln used references to God liberally in his speeches and writings. It was Lincoln who posed the religious conundrum presented by the Civil War.

"In great contests, each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God," Lincoln wrote in 1862. "Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time."

Whose side was God on in the great wars of the 20th century?

In Winston Churchill's first address to Parliament at the outset of WWII, the new Prime Minister called for victory over the Germans at all cost, "with all the strength God can give us."

Yet German Wehrmacht soldiers wore belt buckles with the slogan Gott mit uns, meaning "God with us."

Or perhaps God was simply on the side of any man in a foxhole since, as has often been said, there are no atheists there.

The politics of God in this country began taking divergent paths about 40 years ago. Ryan Lizza, writing in the New York Times a few years ago, said the death of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968 was "the starting point of a decades-long trend by which Democrats have become the secular party and the Republicans the religious party."

This year's GOP platform had six references to God, faith and heaven . . . just in the preamble. Contrast that with the Democratic Party's decision, at least until the dustup at the convention, to leave out all references to the Almighty.

I wonder what God thinks of all this? Perhaps the results of this year's presidential election will give us a sign.

After all, won't the winner have God on his side?

Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.



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