Ohio Auditor of State Betty Montgomery Offends Principles And Intelligence

Panderer – one who contrives to cater to people’s lowest or least admirable desires, tendencies, or weaknesses.

When politicians pander to a segment of the electorate, it is obvious and unseemly. For example when President Bush would give a stump speech in a small town and he would speak about being “one of you” a reasonable person knows he is not being truthful since not everyone has owned a baseball team, run several businesses into the ground, got special treatment when serving in the National Guard, or gone to Yale.

Saturday in a Central Ohio newspaper, Auditor of the State of Ohio Betty Montgomery, a governor wannabe, wrote an Op/Ed article where she pandered to religious conservatives concerning the Pledge ruling recently in California.

In her article Pledge ruling offends principles she writes “The phrase “under God” is a simple statement of faith and hope for many people of all cultures and faiths.” Ignoring a sizable population that doesn’t find it a statement of faith or hope but just another entanglement of the state and church.

She continues:

The case was brought by the same attorney and admitted atheist who filed a legal challenge questioning a public school’s authority to require his daughter to recite the Pledge, given the statement of faith in God it includes.

This is the second time Montgomery has said Michael Newdow, the lawyer in the current case, is an “admitted atheist” (the first being in a similar article she wrote in 2004). Yes, Dr. Newdow is an atheist. He isn’t hiding that fact. It’s as if Montgomery is snearing it like it is something bad, like being a “child molester” or something. It would be if I were to write Betty Montgomery, an admitted woman. It is her attempt at a slur and is unseemly for an elected official especially an expected candidate for governor.

For the time being, the ruling is enforceable only in the area of the country under the court’s jurisdiction. We can expect this case, however, to work its way through the legal system, potentially reaching the U.S. Supreme Court once again.

And it certainly won’t be the last attempt to strip references to God from the public arena.

Montgomery continues the myth that challenging current state and church entanglements is hostile to religion or an attempt to “strip references to God from the public arena”. These challenges are meant to keep the state neutral toward religion. Favorable or hostile to none.

I faced a similar debate a number of years ago as Attorney General when the ACLU challenged the constitutionality of our state motto, “With God all things are possible.” My office was responsible for defending the state motto – a battle I was happy to fight. In 2001, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld our state motto’s constitutionality. Soon after, the ACLU gave up its challenge. It was one of my proudest moments in more than two decades of public service.

She fails to mention that in “winning” the case, the judges ruled the motto is a religious reference from the Bible and because of that the state is not allowed to mention what verse it comes from. It was a compromise that watered down the religious message (the very reason people wanted the motto to remain). So she won but now the motto means nothing according to the state.

It amazes me that someone who wants to be Ohio’s next governor would be so intolerant of people who support the separation of church and state and express a lack of knowledge about American history. It really causes one to ask if she is really qualified to hold any elective office that would require her to defend and protect the constitution of the state. I speak specifically of article 1.07 the Ohio State Constitution which says:

“No person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or maintain any form of worship, against his consent; and no preference shall be given, by law, to any religious society; nor shall any interference with the rights of conscience be permitted. No religious test shall be required, as a qualification for office, nor shall any person be incompetent to be a witness on account of his religious belief….”

Ohio Bill of Rights

If we are to believe that Montgomery would take an oath to defend and protect the constitution then she must be pandering to those with a conservative religious viewpoint. She’s playing the religion card in order to get elected.

Then she shows a lack of knowledge of history:

“The President of the United States takes the oath of office with his hand on the Bible. Our currency is imprinted with the phrase “In God we trust.” The document on which this country was founded – the Declaration of Independence – recognizes that all people “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.””

Someone who actually has an understanding of history should tell Montgomery that the text of the President’s oath, in the constitution, doesn’t mandate an oath to God or the use of a bible; “In God We Trust” wasn’t the motto until the 1950’s; and the Declaration of Independence was a political statement and not a constitution. The US Constitution – which governs the country today, has no mention of God and in fact like the Ohio Constitution prohibits a religious test to hold office.

People would also like to know where was the Auditor of State when Tom Noe was robbing the state and Governor Taft was playing golf for free? But I guess that isn’t as important as making sure “our children” are affirming a belief in God in school.


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