Last week brought the opening of the 2006 legislative year for the South Carolina General Assembly, complete with ambitious goals for property tax reform, public school financing retooling, and a hard look at the looming crisis in the state’s Medicaid program.
Also amongst the fray was some hearty back-slappin’, some quid pro quoin’, some lobbyist hirin’, and the first boneheaded idea of the session, sponsored by a craven politico who happens to hail from the Lowcountry.
How nice for us, thought The Eye.
S.C. Rep. Wallace Scarborough (R-Charleston) (The Citadel 1981) is the primary sponsor of a bill that would authorize public prayer at campus functions at The Citadel.
Ah jeez, thought The Eye, when will these dopes give it up?
In August of 2003, The Citadel replaced cadet-led prayer before meals and other official functions with a moment of silence following a federal appeals court’s decision to not hear an appeal of an earlier ruling declaring the practice unconstitutional at the Virginia Military Institute.
Game over, right? Wrong.
Scarborough and roughly 30 other like-minded House members, many of whom are fellow alumni of The Citadel, want the state to authorize prayer at campus events at the school.
Scarborough’s logic went like this to The Post and Courier, “You don’t go to The Citadel and not expect to do pushups … Don’t go to The Citadel if you don’t want to pray.”
Do what now, wondered The Eye?
He was even better to The State: “When you go to The Citadel, you expect to wear a uniform, you expect to carry a rifle. You expect to do pushups. You ought to expect to pray.”
The Eye saw Scarborough on the Channel 4 newscast last week making some vague remark about God being in foxholes as another justification for his bill.
God may very well be in foxholes, mused The Eye, but it seriously doubts that Wallace Scarborough ever has been or ever will be.
Scarborough wants to bring back the prayers in the dining hall, assemblies, athletic contests, and other Citadel events, but his bill stops short of requiring the prayers, telling the P&C, “Since it’s a state institution, I believe the state should be able to say they can [pray].”
Uh, Wallace, precisely because The Citadel is a state institution is why South Carolina can’t mandate the prayers — never mind the mountains of federal court decisions and opinions and the US Constitution specifically barring the establishment of a state religion.
Col. Billy Jenkins, chairman of The Citadel Board of Visitors, told the P&C that while the decision to replace the prayers was not a popular one, the school was in compliance, “We have the highest respect for this country and the law, and even though we very much disagree with the decision on prayer, we have to abide by it.”
Just like they very much disagreed with the decisions to admit women and minorities, noted The Eye.
Not to be left out of the limelight, The Eye’s favorite Neanderthal, Rep. John Graham Altman III, added his two cents to the debate, telling the P&C, “Whoever made that decision [to remove prayers] should be required to do pushups … that’s insane.”
It’s a good thing the legislators are getting down to brass tacks so early in the session, noted The Eye.
As for Scarborough, perhaps he should peer into the dark recesses of his own heart and see how his prayer bill will help him on Judgment Day.
It’s just a thought.