The One Thing You Won’t See on TV at the State of the Union

Thursday's Editorial   —   Posted on January 27, 2011

(by Dennis Prager, RealClearPolitics.com) – Tuesday, when you [saw] President Obama give his State of the Union address, you [saw] four things: the president entering the hall, the president ascending the rostrum to be greeted by the vice president and the speaker of the House, the president giving his speech and the reactions of members of the Congress and others in the hall.

Here is the one thing you [didn’t] see and probably have never seen. You [didn’t] see what is behind the president and above the vice president and the speaker of the House. And because [didn’t] see it, you [didn’t] know that you miss[ed] something of surpassing importance.

Think about it for a moment. Why do television cameras never pull back and give a wide-angle view of the president delivering his speech? That is certainly routine for TV: It is considered uninteresting to TV viewers to have a fixed view of a subject.

Why, then, have almost no Americans ever seen what is located above the president, the vice president and the speaker of the House?

I discovered the answer when I attended President Obama’s speech on health care to a joint session of Congress.

I saw chiseled in the marble wall behind the speaker and vice president, in giant letters, the words “In God We Trust.”

My immediate reaction was to wonder: Why had I never seen that before? I have, after all, been watching presidential State of the Union addresses for about 40 years.

Here is my theory — and I say “theory” because I cannot prove it.

A generation of Americans has been raised to regard any mention of God outside the home or church as a violation of the deepest principles of our country. To the men and women of the left-leaning news media, in particular, “In God We Trust” is an anachronism at best, an impediment to moral progress at worst. The existence of those giant chiseled words so disturbs the media that, consciously or not, they do not want Americans to see them.

I do not for a moment believe that there is any conspiracy here. In some ways, I actually wish there were. I wish a handful of media executives had gotten together and conspired to instruct their various cameramen to avoid a wide-angle view of the president.

But, alas, no such conspiracy is necessary. The words “In God We Trust” emblazoned in giant letters behind the president of the United States just don’t sit well with the secular media. So you won’t see them.

We have been led to believe that America is supposed to be a secular country. But that was never the case. We were founded to be a God-centered, God-based country with a nondenominational government. And that is what those chiseled words affirm.

Yet millions of Americans — religious and secular alike — would be stunned to see what every member of the House sees almost every working day.

When I mentioned this to some congressman after I addressed the Republican members of the House two weeks ago, they told me that just as remarkable is the fact that when the president is speaking in the House chamber, he is facing a giant sculpted image of Moses holding the Ten Commandments.

Imagine how this scene would go over in American homes — behind the president of the United States are the words “In God We Trust,” and in front of him is Moses carrying the Ten Commandments.

This would astound and even confuse an America raised to believe that the words “separation of church and state” are in the Constitution, that those words prohibit the government from acknowledging even a nondenominational God and that no speaker at any public high school graduation ceremony may say “God bless this graduating class.”

That is why, I am convinced, no camera tonight will give you a long or wide view of the president. It might change more than Americans’ views of the presidential rostrum. It might change Americans’ views of America.

Copyright 2011, Creators Syndicate Inc.  This article was first posted at RealClearPolitics.com on January 25, 2011.   Reprinted here January 27, 2011 for educational purposes only.  May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from Creators Syndicate Inc.  Mr. Prager hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show based in Los Angeles. He is the author of four books, most recently “Happiness is a Serious Problem” (HarperCollins). Visit his website at dennisprager.com.

Questions

1. What is the main idea of Dennis Prager’s commentary?

2. For each of the following assertions made by Mr. Prager, state whether you agree or disagree and explain your answer:

_______________________ “A generation of Americans has been raised to regard any mention of God outside the home or church as a violation of the deepest principles of our country. To the men and women of the left-leaning news media, in particular, ‘In God We Trust’ is an anachronism at best, an impediment to moral progress at worst. The existence of those giant chiseled words so disturbs the media that, consciously or not, they do not want Americans to see them.” (from para. 9)

_______________________ “I do not for a moment believe that there is any conspiracy here. …The words ‘In God We Trust’ emblazoned in giant letters behind the president of the United States just don’t sit well with the secular media. So you won’t see them.” (from para. 10-11)

_______________________ “We have been led to believe that America is supposed to be a secular country. But that was never the case. We were founded to be a God-centered, God-based country with a nondenominational government. And that is what those chiseled words affirm.” (from para. 12)

NOTE: The phrase “separation of church and state” is not in the U.S. Constitution (which reads in the 1st amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religiou, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”).  The phrase actually comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to the Danbury Baptist Association. In that letter, referencing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Jefferson wrote:  “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”  In his letter, Jefferson made clear that the “wall of separation” was erected not to limit public religious expressions but rather to provide security against governmental interference with those expressions, whether private or public.  (On numerous other occasions, Jefferson repeatedly affirmed that the sole purpose of the First Amendment was to ensure that the federal government could not interfere with public religious expressions.)  [from shop.wallbuilders.com/Separation-of-Church-and-State-What-the-Founders-Really-Meant-Book]

Read a detailed explanation of what the founders really meant by the “separation of church and state” at: wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=123