August, 16th 2007

I hate to say anything negative about Rudy, but...

– Liz Mair

... I do have to ask what is up with this.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani voiced support Wednesday for the inclusion of prayer at school graduation ceremonies - an issue that has been the subject of a number of court battles.

Giuliani, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, discussed the issue with a supporter during a campaign stop in the southwestern Iowa town of Carson.

"Why have we taken God so much out of the country? I think that's kind of a core issue. I would like to see God brought back into it," said Marsha Sternberg of Carson, a chiropractic office receptionist who was among about 40 people at the Wander In Cafe.

Giuliani said there needs to be a balance between constitutional protections against the government establishment of religion and people's right of religious freedom. "It's OK to say a prayer," he said.

Sternberg turned the discussion to the offering of prayers at commencement exercises. Giuliani, a Roman Catholic, said he's given a lot of commencement speeches, although he made no distinction between high school and college ceremonies.

"In most of them there's a prayer - usually a minister or a priest or a rabbi, or sometimes a professor gets up and says a prayer at the beginning of it," he said. "So I wouldn't think that's prohibited."


My initial thought on this is that Giuliani is a lawyer-- so it's odd that he would be basing his conclusions as to whether prayer at a graduation ceremony is prohibited on his actual experience of witnessing prayers done at commencements, as opposed to his interpretation of, oh, say, the Constitution. And his knowledge of case law, to date, which upholds the separation of church and state and which has resulted in exactly this kind of prohibition.

My second thought is, maybe Rudy was trying to make the point that most people don't have a problem with a rather generic prayer being said at events like this. That is true enough, but addresses the question of whether prayer should be prohibited, not whether it is prohibited.

My third thought is, this looks like an attempt to skim over an issue when talking to a voter and say something that sounds vaguely like what they want to hear, even if it probably wasn't. My guess is that the person asking the question probably was gunning for full-on school prayer here, not looking to hear that it's probably OK to say something with the word "God" in it in a 10 second missive before everyone throws their mortar board in the air and runs off.

So, this looks like an all-around screw-up by Rudy, then, I am sad to say.


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