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Prayer Opening at Government Meetings Allowed


Prayer Opening at Government Meetings Allowed
Photo credit: hpebley3 / Flickr

Pop the cork on the champagne! Public prayer is still safe on the dwindling list of American freedoms, at least for the time being. Only those vacationing off the planet this past week could miss the reports on the Supreme Court ruling that government meetings may continue to be opened with a prayer. True, the ruling was split, five to four — and it’s no shocker that the split was a conservative-liberal us-against-them.

According to USA Today, what stuck in the liberals’ collective craw was that the prayers being allowed were too “sectarian,” and might make “ordinary citizens” feel excluded if they didn’t join in the prayer offered up. It’s the same issue, different day: the overly sensitive, whether out of paranoia or boredom, going out of their way to look for issues over which to take offense.

What the majority of the Supreme Court Justices were able to remain clear on, thankfully, was that the U.S.A. was founded by a group of pray-ers, who just wanted the freedom to speak to the Man Upstairs whenever they felt like it. Even if — especially if — that happened to be right before an important meeting.

Here’s the Issue

People taking issue with public prayer is old news. It’s been happening for centuries. This time around, the case was brought against the Greece, New York, town board by Linda Stephens and Susan Galloway who unsuccessfully contended that the prayers being said before town board meetings violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

However, as the Cornell University Law School explains it, the establishment clause is there to keep the government from setting up an official religion and, additionally, keeps it from playing favorites between religion and non-religion.

That’s pretty cut-and-dried, and the five conservative justices didn’t have to get creative in interpreting the clause when they pointed out that the alternatives to allowing heartfelt sectarian prayer would be the actual violation of the clause. That scenario would allow for government officials and courts to supervise and censor religious speech, and would be more than a slippery slope. When that happens, the entire cart and horse has gone over the edge.

Are There Corrective Lenses for Selective Sight?

For all their open-mindedness, the liberal camp’s definition of tolerance seems to be lenient only toward their chosen causes and special interest groups.

They also seem to have selective sight. The website Townhall reports that Justice Anthony Kennedy traced the history of prayer at Greece’s town board meetings and noted that the opening prayers weren’t exclusively offered by Christians but were also spoken by, among others, a Baha’i member and a Jewish layman. No Christians came forward after those opening prayers to bring lawsuits. Obviously Christians don’t have the thin skins that the liberal justices believe people of other various faiths or no faith at all have.

Prayers Don’t Rescind Citizenship

According to Townhall, Liberal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s alleged concern is that a Muslim woman in attendance at a town board meeting won’t feel within her rights as a citizen to address the board if she hears a prayer spoken in Jesus’ name. Here’s the thing, though: never at any time is anyone in attendance prevented from saying their own prayer or abstaining from prayer altogether.

Participation is welcome but not required. It seems that adults of any faith should be capable of deciding whether or not they’d like to bow their heads and say “amen” without the Supreme Court weighing in.

Not that the ruling isn’t a victory for American freedoms, but a bit of advice from Mother Teresa seems appropriate: quit keeping score, stop making distinctions of race, color or creed and put an end to using religion as a divider. If more people operated under those guidelines, maybe the U.S. courts could spend their time on matters other than playground issues such as whether someone feels left out or not.

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