Tag archives: Inauguration

Star-Spangled Compromise

by Robert Morrison

January 29, 2013

And another thing, I didn’t like Beyoncé’s performance of the National Anthem. I don’t mean to get into the controversy over whether or not she should have lip-synched The Star-Spangled Banner. I think it would probably be okay to do that for purposes of amplification. After all, the million plus folks who came to witness the Inauguration last week ought at least to be able to hear the ceremonies.

It’s not because I don’t think Beyoncé is beautiful or that I don’t think she has a lovely voice. She is and she does. What I didn’t like was turning the National Anthem into a blues ballad. It ain’t that.

There is a traditional way to sing the Star-Spangled Banner. It doesn’t take long to listen to it. There’s a perfectly fine rendition of it online. Metropolitan Opera baritone Robert Merrill does a fine job with the U.S. Air Force Band.

The enthusiastic audience reception for Mr. Merrill and the band probably include hundreds of Americans who know that the anthem is supposed to be sung as “a sprightly martial air.” If we cannot hear our National Anthem properly sung at a presidential inauguration, for Heaven’s sake, where can we hear it?

It would have been especially nice to have the traditional National Anthem because we are approaching the bicentennial of the poem written by Francis Scott Key. The young Maryland lawyer was on board a British warship, trying to negotiate the release of an American prisoner, during the August, 1814 bombardment of Fort McHenry. The British war fleet was trying to reduce the fort to complete their invasion ofMarylandby taking the important port city of Baltimore.

In the rear of those British forces that grim summer lay the nation’s capital. The invaders had staged a quick short but destructive raid on Washington City. They torched the White House, the Capitol, and even the Library of Congress. British soldiers ate President Madison’s dinner in the Executive Mansion before setting it ablaze. First Lady Dolley Madison had raced to save the large Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington that again hangs on the wall. Only a hurricane force storm had quenched those flames.

I would love to hear that anthem sung as it should be sung. And perhaps at the next presidential inauguration, we might even hear this verse:

O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand?

Between their loved home and the war’s desolation;

Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

The no-God-here crowd wouldn’t like it, of course. But they don’t like the president putting his hand on the Bible, having the Bible in plain sight, hearing “…so help me God,” or anything else most Americans want to hear at this solemnizing event. We need to remind these atheizers that it’s a swearing-in, not a swearing-at.

Here’s a Star-Spangled Compromise: Let’s ask inaugural organizers for the January 20, 2017ceremonies to invite Beyoncé back. Only this time, ask her to sing Ray Charles’s version of America the Beautiful.

That great song is not our national anthem, but it’s a national treasure. And no one did it better than the inimitable Ray Charles. Just thinking of that scene –January 20, 2017 – gives me a warm glow. I can’t wait.

We Must Act: Inaugural Address Falls Flat

by Robert Morrison

January 22, 2013

I was fourteen when I attended a family wedding. The morning after, I snuck into the reception area and took a sip of the champagne from the previous night’s revelry. It was warm and flat. It almost ruined my taste for the bubbly for the rest of my life.

And that’s how I felt about President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address. The Washington Post trumpeted the hortatory line We Must Act as if it was holy writ. Well, they had to write something in that pompous headline.

I remember Lyndon B. Johnson’s three-worder addressing a joint session of Congress after JFK was assassinated: “Let us contin-ya.” OK. What did we expect him to say? “I’m going to abandon all of John Kennedy’s policies”?

President Obama’s First Inaugural Address was witnessed by 1.8 million people on the National Mall in 2009. It was doubtless an historic occasion. But what did he say then? We struggle to recall a single memorable line. I looked this one up:

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

Is this what Chris Matthews considers Lincolnesque? Try this for Lincolnesque:

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

This was Lincoln’s State of the Union Message to Congress of December 1, 1862, now just 150 years past. Lincoln did not deliver this address in person; a clerk in Congress probably droned on.

But the words of President Lincoln have life, power, and purpose a century and a half later. Lincoln did not graduate from Columbia or Harvard Law School. Maybe that’s why he was such a powerful orator and rhetorician.

Also, Abraham Lincoln was an avid reader of Shakespeare. He knew long passages from the Bard by heart. We can hear echoes of Shakespeare’s mastery of language in many of Lincoln’s writings.

Yesterday was also the federal holiday dedicated to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

His famous 1963 “I have a dream” speech certainly inspired millions of Obama voters in 2008 and 2012. But that speech appealed to Americans of all races and political opinions when it was delivered. It reached out from “the red hills of Georgia” the mountaintops of New York, California and the Rockies. It was a generous, embracing speech, joining Americans together in a common affirmation of our founding ideals.

We are told over and over again that President Obama’s every act is historic. Well, yes.

We probably never had a president chew gum at his Inaugural Parade before (although I won’t vouch for Old Hickory, Andrew Jackson’s not chewing tobacco at his.)

Still, it’s hard to do something historic without saying something memorable. At Normandy in 2009, President Obama “hovered over the nations like a sort of god,” enthused Newsweek editor Evan Thomas. Okay, Mr. Thomas, so what did this sort of god say there? Even his most bedazzled admirers cannot tell you.

I remember Ronald Reagan’s 1984 “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” speech at Normandy as if it were yesterday. He pointed to the grizzled veterans seated before him and praised them for liberating a continent, for “leaving the vivid air signed with their honor.”

Presidents are judged by their words. We carve them in stone. We expect a president to offer us something better, finer, loftier than the humdrum of day-to-day utterance. This Inaugural Address sounded like a campaign potboiler, a harangue to gin up the base. There was not a word in it to appeal to me.

Mitt Romney was rightly criticized for referring to the “47-percenters”—those Americans he claimed were receiving or had received some form of payment from the federal government. It is hard to imagine how you could ever unite the country when you dismiss nearly one-half of it.

But yesterday’s Inaugural Address was just as narrowly partisan, just as dismissive. President Obama was saying: We won, you 48-percenters, so stand by for another round of liberal hope and change that will leave you gasping for air. We must act; you will be acted upon.

May I offer a suggestion to President Obama with all respect? Read Abraham Lincoln’s Bible. Read it daily. Millions of us revere the Bible as the Word of God, but even if you don’t believe that, the King James Version of the Bible gives us a style and a resonance that has never been equaled. In it, you might even read about what pride goeth before.

Giglio Inauguration Withdrawal—More Intolerance from the Tolerance Brigade

by Peter Sprigg

January 15, 2013

Pastor Louie Giglio of Atlanta’s Passion City Church was forced to withdraw from giving the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration, despite his outstanding record in mobilizing the church to fight the evils of modern slavery and human trafficking. All it took to bounce him from the program, however, was for homosexual activists to attack him for having given a sermon in which he declared that homosexuality is a sin—two decades ago.

None of the comments from Pastor Giglio that I have seen quoted are at all out of the mainstream of historic Christian orthodoxy or of contemporary evangelical thought. If he’s to be excluded, then you are excluding virtually all evangelicals, Bible-believing Christians, or Roman Catholics who believe in the teaching of their church.

What many people do not understand is that when a conservative says “homosexuality is a sin,” it is a reference to their chosen sexual behavior, not to their inherent human dignity. Christian theology teaches that all people, including those with same-sex attractions, are created in the image of God, but it also teaches that all people—liberal or conservative, homosexual or heterosexual—are sinners who can be saved only by the grace of God.

A poll taken just last September (2012) showed that 52% of Americans believe that “sex between two adults of the same gender” is “morally wrong,” and only 42% say it is “morally acceptable.” So the viewpoint that is being used to blacklist a distinguished Christian leader is not only a common view; it remains the majority view, not just of evangelicals, but of all Americans.

Although Giglio himself dodged the controversy by voluntarily withdrawing from the inaugural ceremony, a spokesman, Addie Whisenant, took pains to distance the inaugural committee from Giglio’s views anyway, declaring, “As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.”

We are increasingly seeing this—exclusion in the name of “inclusion,” rejection in the name of “acceptance,” intolerance in the name of “tolerance,” and forced uniformity in the name of “diversity.” It’s contradictory, it’s oxymoronic, it’s downright Orwellian—and yet, unbelievably, people make these statements with a straight face.

Pastor Giglio Disinvitation Signals Inauguration of a New Era of Religious Intolerance

by FRC Media Office

January 10, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 10, 2013
CONTACT: J.P. Duffy or Darin Miller, (866) FRC-NEWS or (866) 372-6397

Pastor Giglio Disinvitation Signals Inauguration of a New Era of Religious Intolerance
January 10, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Family Research Council President Tony Perkins offered the following comments in reaction to the news that Pastor Louis Giglio has been “kicked out” of the inauguration program because he has expressed his biblical views of sexuality:

This is another example of intolerance from the Obama administration toward those who hold to biblical views on sexuality. Why is the president surprised that an evangelical pastor would teach from Scripture on homosexuality? One would be hard pressed to find an Evangelical pastor who hasn’t preached on what the Bible teaches about human sexuality.

Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Orthodox churches all actively proclaim that sexual intimacy within the marriage of one man and one woman is the only biblically-sanctioned human sexual behavior. Are the scores of millions of Americans who affirm these teachings no longer welcome at the inauguration of our president?

What is shocking is the intolerance of the Obama team that put such a high priority on forced acceptance of homosexuality that they totally disregard Pastor Giglio’s life work combating human trafficking. What we are seeing is the inauguration of a new era of religious intolerance in America.

However, I would remind the president that the Constitution does not guarantee us only freedom of worship but also the freedom of religion. The two are very different. Freedom of religion goes further by guaranteeing the right to live out one’s faith not only in the privacy of their home but in the public square as well.

This president appears determined to stir division and create two Americas: One America that holds to a biblical view of sexuality and another that offers tolerance so long as you embrace its redefined view of sexuality,” concluded Perkins.

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