John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

God and the party platform

There was a kerfuffle yesterday over the omission of the word God from the Democratic platform. President Obama stepped in to get it restored, and the manufactured controversy seems to have faded.

Mind you, the platform was not disrespectful of believers in the first place. It included this passage:

Faith has always been a central part of the American story, and it has been a driving force of progress and justice throughout our history. We know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires. Faith- based organizations will always be critical allies in meeting the challenges that face our nation and our world – from domestic and global poverty, to climate change and human trafficking. People of faith and religious organizations do amazing work in communities across this country and the world, and we believe in lifting up and valuing that good work, and finding ways to support it where possible. We believe in constitutionally sound, evidence-based partnerships with faith-based and other non-profit organizations to serve those in need and advance our shared interests. There is no conflict between supporting faith-based institutions and respecting our Constitution, and a full commitment to both principles is essential for the continued flourishing of both faith and country.


I am not sure that I'm keen on having God in a party platform anyhow. The Constitution gets along fairly well without any mention of the deity, the Founders having wanted to give us a secular republic in which the populace would have freedom to practice religion without imposing it on one another. Beyond that, I have my doubts that God is a Republican or a Democrat. Probably registered independent, if anything. 

And really, do you want our political parties to have anything to do with the Almighty?  They can't even contrive to pass a manageable budget, and they should take responsibility for theology as well? 

God seems to putter along quite well without the assistance of a political party, so perhaps both Republicans and Democrats would do well to keep their hands off and give some attention to establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defence, and promoting the general welfare. That should be enough to occupy them.