October 25, 2012
Ive long enjoyed visits to Pennsylvania. We used to take the Witherspoon Fellows, our FRC interns, to Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Harrisburg regularly. The majestic Pennsylvania State Capitol was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt. He called it the most impressive public building in America.
Until recently, when most Americans thought of Pennsylvania probably thought of Penn State Universitys legendary football program, and of their legendary coach of the Nittany Lions, Joe Paterno. Sadly, it was another kind of lion that stalked the shower stalls of Penn States football program.
Our friend Michael Geer has movingly written of the origins of that scandal. Michael heads the Pennsylvania Family Institute in Harrisburg. Michael pointed to the moral relativism of Penn States president, Dr. Graham Spanier. Spanier told a legislative committee of inquiry he had trouble understanding what his questioner meant by wrong.
Penn States president could not see anything wrong with a Sex Faire on campus that featured a tent of consent in which students were told they might engage in any sexual conduct that struck their fancy. Spanier, of course, was dismissed. His failure to act promptly to stop the serial rapes of ten boys was disclosed in the devastatingly thorough report of Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI. Dont worry, though. Dr. Spanier is working to protect all of us as a defense consultantwith a Top Secret clearance. He says the fact that he retains a Top Secret clearance proves he did nothing wrong. But he also testified under oath that he doesnt understand the meaning of wrong.
When I was a teacher, we were told we legally acted in loco parentis (in the place of the parents) in our duty to protect the children in our care. Today, I think parents would be loco to put their young people in the charge of a man like Graham Spanier.
We had a happier mission to Pennsylvania last weekend on the Values Bus. Our first stop was a gun show in Bloomsburg. We wanted to meet first hand the folks who were described by candidate Barack Obama as clinging to their guns and religion. We met lots of them. But they werent bitter. They were happy. And they were eagerly looking forward to casting votes in the presidential election. Our purpose was to make sure that voters know about the important values issues that are also being decided by informed citizens. On the Values Bus, we advance values like the right to life, the defense of marriage and the preservation of religious freedom.
On Saturday night, we rolled into Uniontown and stopped at Liberty Baptist Church. Sr. Pastor Ewing Marietta welcomed us heartily and fed us royally at a church supper. We set up our Family Research Council and Heritage Foundation tables for literature distribution, but the folks there wanted answers to questions. We had a lively Q&A after brief presentations by Pastor Ewing and myself.
All the while, we were being photographed by a silent presence. A tall man with bushy gray hair and a walrus mustache wore a NatGeo ballcap, He said nothing, but continued to photograph our every move. It was creepy. I was determined not to be deterred.
Other reporters straightforwardly introduced themselves and asked fair enough questions. Ive become used to this and we are actually happy to answer any honest question. I recall one reporter on the trail in Wisconsin who tried to entrap me into saying the purpose of our bus tour was to defeat Obama. I never said that, I parried. But your friend said that, the reporter countered. Our friend is with the NRA. He can say whatever he wishes. We are here to talk about the Values Issues. Unpersuaded, that dogged reporter said the NRA man is speaking here, at your rally. Its not our rally. Its a TEA Party rally. Were invited guests, just like the NRA man. We are adhering strictly to our mandate: issues, issues, issues.
Talking about issues is important. The parties have platforms that say a lot about the right to life, the defense of marriage, and religious liberty. Voters need to know what those platforms say. When pressed by persistent reporters, I quote Thomas Jefferson: Give light and the people will find their own way. We are in the lighting department, I say.
Besides, people are smart. They get it. In Iowa, at a Sioux City restaurant, a high schooler was regaling the young ladies with talk of his wrestling prowess. When we asked him to seat us, he spied my iVoteValues button and looked out at the Values Bus: I dont have to guess who youre voting for, he said laughingly. People are smart.
The economy is on everyones mind in Pennsylvania, as across the country. Up here, you learn about Marcellus Shale. It seems that most of Pennsylvania, southern New York State, Eastern Ohio,and all of West Virginia are floating on a vast ocean of shale oil and gas. Getting at it in an environmentally safe way is the big challenge of our day. Here, we could be energy independent. And this contentious issue is, frankly, putting Pennsylvania in play in the election.
One of the best events in Pennsylvania was the candlelight vigil Pastor Marietta organized at sunset in front of the Ten Commandments monument at a local junior high. The atheizers, typically, are trying to get it removed. Its been there for 55 years. The mixed race crowd heard Rev. Thompson of the African Methodist Episcopal Church pray for the children of the school and the well-being of the community.
I am puzzled by the controversy. In the Pennsylvania State House, the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth sits under a Violet Oakley mural titled Revealed Law. It is a great, colorful rendering of the carving of the Ten Commandments. Its not just silent somber stone. In this painting you get Moses inscribing Gods Word, hammer, chisel, thunder, lightning, fire, the works. How can it be unconstitutional for schoolchildren to see Gods law when their black robed elders in Harrisburg sit in judgment under it?
We come back to Washington through some of the most beautiful of fall colors. Whizzing by at 65 mph, we see Fort Necessity. That was the place where young Col. George Washington battled the French during the French and Indian War. Its truly one of the most important places in our countrys history. We have no time to stop, sadly. We are working this fall to make sure that our countrys history will go on.