Religous groups leading way to constitutional reform

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 15, 2000

Last October when the church folks marched from the pews to the polling places to crush Gov. Siegelman's lottery it provoked some criticism from some of the losers.

More correctly, the bible readers were told that now that they had flexed their muscle in the lottery referendum why don't they use their new-found political clout in other arenas of politics as well, say constitutional reform or tax reform?

Comes to mind the old saw, be careful what you pray for, your prayers might be answered.

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An unlikely but very eloquentspokesman for constitutional reformhas emerged in the form of Dr. Thomas Corts, president of Samford University,

which as you surely know is an Alabaama Baptistsupported institution.

He is stumping the state, eating a lot of "rubber chicken" at civic clubs, urging that a convention be called to rewrite Alabama's archaic constitution which will observe its 100th birthday next year.

I asked Dr. Corts point blank if his involvement in constitutional reform signalled a major trend in Alabama politics, a trend where churches and church leaders would be out front in efforts such as these.

Dr. Corts would not go that far, but he emphasized that he felt that Christians had the responsibility to let their voices be heard in matters of governance.

And while many fear that re-writing the constitution at a convention would be dangerous, what with the powerful influence of special interest groups in Montgomery, Dr. Corts offered an argument difficult to rebut.

Noting that several recent studies showed Alabama had the most ineffective state government in the nation, Dr. Corts added: "We don't have a lot to lose (in rewriting the constitution.) When you are 50th out of 50 your rating cannot slip."

Who among you is old enough to remember the old World War II poster intended to conserve gasoline which posed the question: "Is This Trip Necessary?"

Without any computer expertise to bring up the subject a similar question nonetheless comes to mind: Was the billions of dollars spent in the nation…and more than $115 million by our own state government…to become Y2K compliant really necessary?

The argument can be made…it has been made…that if all the precautions had not been taken there could have been a calamity of gigantic proportions. That is a position that cannot be proved or disproved.

We will never know. All we do know is that the transition from 1999 to 2000 was yawningly uneventful. And a lot of Alabamians have a pantry full of bottled water they would like to sell you at a rock-bottom price.

Rep. Phil Crigler, the Mobile Republican who earlier said he would introduce a bill to require that the Confederate Battle Flag be returned to the Capitol dome, has lowered his sights considerably.

Perhaps realizing his legislation didn't have a snowball's chance of passage, he will offer a watered-down proposal calling for the flag to fly on specific holidays, namely Confederate Memorial Day and Robert E. Lee's birthday. Don't bet the farm this measure will pass either.

And while I'm on the subject…and at no extra charge…a little flag trivia. The case could be made that the law is being violated by flying the Alabama State Flag atop the dome every day.

Alabama law specifies the state flag shall fly over the dome only when the Legislature is in session.

Predictably, some wag suggested at the time this law was passed that it could serve sort of like a storm warningwhen the Alabama flag was on the dome that meant the legislators were in town, hence Montgomerians should keep their women and children off the streets.