Sunday, August 06, 2006

Politician stands up for freedom of religion

It's not often that I applaud politicians of any political stripe. I find most of them to be smarmy, self-serving, dull, and more concerned about re-election than anything else. However, once in a while, even I have to give credit where credit is due.

Some of my Northern friends may be shocked to find that we in the South still have what are called "colorful" politicians. They speak their minds - no matter how politically incorrect. They don't have highly paid "handlers" carefully crafting a suave and debonair image for them.

Even our political parties are not as cut and dried as in the North (it's not terribly uncommon to have a right-wing Democrat running against a left-wing Republican).

Anyway, I have to tip my hat to one of our local "colorful" Southern politicians: Henry "Junior" Rodriguez (yes, Southern politicians still use monikers like "Junior" and "Bubba"), who is the St. Bernard Parish president.

In Louisiana, we don't have counties, we have "parishes." Our parishes are not governed by sheriffs (they are strictly law enforcement), but rather by "presidents." And finally, many of our parishes have politically incorrect names such as those named after Christian saints and Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis.

It may shock many of my Northern friends to learn that Junior Rodriguez is a Democrat who is standing up for religious expression against the ACLU. I'm sure the party leadership is not happy about an elected official actually thinking for himself instead of taking partisan marching orders.

Junior Rodriguez and other parish officials have decided to place a monument to the 129 residents of St. Bernard Parish who died in Hurricane Katrina. The momunent is to be completed and erected on the one-year anniversary of the storm (August 29). Problem is, the monument is considered by the ACLU to be unfit for public display: it features a cross and the face of Jesus.

Even though the project is completely privately funded, all parish officials who worked on it did so on their own time, and the monument will be placed on private property, the ACLU still thinks this is a violation of the First Amendment! Maybe next year they can assert that the name of the parish (St. Bernard) is illegal as it is named after a Christian monk. Maybe next they can challenge the State's use of the term "parish" - since this is also a Christian term.

Anyway, you will no doubt enjoy Junior's "colorful" retort to the ACLU in this article.

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