Best idea I've seen so far: set apart two minutes at the start of each
session to allow a constituent to provide an inspirational moment. They could
choose to pray, to read a quote, to offer a nugget of wisdom, to stand silent,
or I suppose, to read tarot cards.If a sincere prayer offered by
someone of another faith would truly offend someone not of that faith, even more
reason for them to hear that prayer. We would all benefit from
experiencing others methods of seeking wisdom, some may resonate with us, some
may not. Lest anyone deem it to be a complete waste of time, consider how many
hours (not minutes) of our lives have been spent watching commercials.
When will people ever learn? It is fine and dandy to have a prayer until, for
example, someone decides to give a Muslim prayer, or when somebody is praying as
they would in a Jewish community. Do the baptists care if it is a Catholic
prayer? You bet they do! There is a reason for separation of Church and State!If
you don't believe it, just imagine what it would be like here if we allowed
religion into government and the biggest religion was Muslim! Would all you
Christians like being told what to do then? You cannot separate the two
completely, but there are good reasons not to mix church with government. It
doesn't take much brains to know why!
Tyler D., your logic is sound, but ignores one very significant phenomenon:
language changes over time. If the majority of the human race continues to view
atheism as a religion, that connotation will attach itself to the definition,
logical or not. A lexicographer could perhaps give us some clue as to whether
this is happening to the extent that some of us suspect it is. But I agree it
makes no logical sense if one looks at the definition in the strictest literal
usage of the term, not to mention its etymology.
To: CHS 85The "Under God" was added in 1954, Not 1952!!
Attempts to add it were already in motionby 1952. 1952 was an Election
year: Stevenson vs. Eisenhower. 1954 was during President Eisenhower's
years.Go to Wikipedia and look for "Pledge of Allegiance".
The kids in school in 1954 had to RE-Learn the Pledge of Allegiance.
Many of their teachers wrote it on the blackboard with emphasis on the
two "new" words that were added.
@jsf – “the argument is based on the premise atheism is a religion,
(belief their is no deity)”Again, this is simply wrong. First,
it violates the logical law of non-contradiction - A (belief) cannot also be
not-A (non-belief). Or think about it this way – do you have a
“belief” there is no Zeus? Or what if I told you the Universe is
ruled by a 17 headed demon named Dexter? Would your not believing me or even
asking for evidence that such a being exists be the same as saying “I have
a belief that Dexter does not exist?”Do you see the
difference?@Steve C. Warren – “they bring to mind the
scripture… (Matt. 15:8)”Matthew 6:5-6 I think is apropos
here as well.
The Salt Lake County Council, West Valley City and a number of other local
governments have an opening ceremony or observance before their meetings, which
allows for a reading, thought, prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, song, etc.This kind of an opening seems like a permissible exercise of free speech, as
long as the person presenting the ceremony chooses what to say.What
I don't like is when entities such as Congress and the Utah Legislature
make prayer a required part of the agenda. That becomes a government endorsement
of religion. When our political leaders insist on forcing all present to sit
through a religious exercise, they bring to mind the scripture: "This people
draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but
their heart is far from me." (Matt. 15:8)
FYI: Robert Bellah's writings refer to "Civil Religion in America,"
or "American Civil Religion". It is fairly common practice to use the
term "civil religion" in a more generic sense.Posts on all
sides of this issue illustrate one thing: we have changed the definition of
The rights of a minority should be respected, but the rights of the majority
should not be held hostage to the whims of a tiny minority.
the argument is based on the premise atheism is a religion, (belief their is no
deity) (formal organizations promoting the belief). You are right the lack of,
does not establish, atheism as a state religion, but the act of governments
stepping in and preventing others from acts of religion that differs and is a
limit of religious freedom. There can be no freedom OF religion if there is not
freedom FROM religion, but the argument fails when atheist organize in formal
groups, proselytize their beliefs and attempt to suppress other religions
expressions under the banner freedom from religion.
@jsfIf omitting a prayer from a public meeting is an act of an
atheist, then isn't the lack of a prayer before every TV program an act of
an atheist? What about the lack of prayers before placing an order in a
restaurant? Is that an act of an atheist? How about when the school bus driver
omits a prayer when he restarts his bus after picking up children? Is that the
act of an atheist? No - these are the acts of people simply going about their
daily lives. Omitting a prayer before a government meeting is also just the act
of people going about their lives.People who are used to having the
power to force their religion on everyone (thereby violating the religious
freedom of others) somehow think that if that power is restricted it is setting
up atheism as the state religion. Not saying a prayer is NOT the same thing as
actively denying that God exists. It is simply being considerate of those whose
beliefs may differ.There can be no freedom OF religion if there is
not freedom FROM religion. Why is this so hard to understand?
When the federal government established the First Amendment, thirteen states had
established state religions, the amendment did not disallow the state religions.
Only the federal government could not establish a federal religion. Over the
next 30 or 60 years these 13 states eventually dropped their state sponsored
I personally don’t have any problem with prayers, public or private, so
long as they are short prayers. Long prayers were the curse of my life in
younger years. And I never outgrew it. Beyond the notion of God,
religions and churches are simply business organizations. They have a product
to sell and use every opportunity to advertise and promote their business.
Churches are the most elaborate and unique buildings in the world. Members
often wear special clothing and jewelry and profess special eating habits.
Public prayers are simply advertising. That is, as seen by the non-believers.
The problem with churches comes when they get involved with
government. Just like any other business operations it would be great to have
the force of government to mandate their product. The First Amendment gives the
right of freedom of religion to churches not to individuals. In fact the entire
Bill of Rights can be seen as a bill of rights for business rather than the
mistaken notion that it applied to people. In the colonies, the
government and the church were closely aligned, so by the First Amendment the
churches exempted themselves for Federal interference.
Opening public meetings with prayers that fit the requirements of one religion
or another is replete with issues. For instance, the prayers of one religion
may be offensive to members of a different religion. A church may believe that
women should not pray in public, or that prayers must be done "in Jesus
name" and that other formats are a mockery. Suppose a Wiccan, Satanist or
Muslim wants to open with prayer? Will those Christians in attendance find that
acceptable? All of these things make some other members of the public feel
excluded or sidelined. Of course one could offer a generic "to Whom it may
concern" sort of prayer, but that meets the needs of no one and makes the
prayer an official formality; something that is clearly prohibited by the
Constitution. The best thing is for people to do as the Christian Bible says
and offer their prayers in private rather than making them a public show.
Atheists have demanded the establishment of Atheist chaplains in the U.S.
Military, thus establishing Atheism as a recognized religion. In 1962, a supreme
court judge recognized that atheism was a religion. Thus any act by the
government responding to an atheist to demand the end of religious acts by those
believing in a god, is government violating the establishment clause of the
constitution. Scientist is actually saying, we will eventually help
to remove (deists) acts and establish atheism as the state religion of
government, in violation of the constitution. Not really an act of a true lover
of Democracy and freedom. But an act of repression by a minority. Remember
Democracy, means everyone has a vote, which means the majority selects policies
for the whole. Why do people think that if they have an idea, Democracy will
allow their minority to set policies. In our country we have a method that is
not democratic for preventing repression of minorities, it is called the Supreme
Court. Democracy is overruled. Example, Prop 8. Democracy created it, the
court voided the democratic election.
WRK: I don't see anywhere in there where it specifies any location that
needs to be exempt from this freedom of (not freedom from - read it, I have
supplied it for you) religion.The common understanding, and the
legal interpretation, of religious freedom is not the same now as it was 200+
years ago. Nothing is understood now the way it was then. Religious freedom is
widely recognised, and judicially confirmed, to include the exclusion of
religious bias, preference, or identity from state spaces. This applies in parts
of the country where 99.9% of the populace adheres to cognate beliefs as well as
parts of the country where religious pluralism is pronounced.With
respect to your characterisation of 'science' as a religion, you
misconstrue the claims that the scientific world view makes. Science is a
methodology of experimentation and comparison. It is not a fixed belief system.
Indeed, the sciences continually and consistently change. Conclusions of the
past, based on a subset of the data that we possess now, are regularly rejected.
Religions, particularly in the sense of ecclesiastical institutions like the
Corporation of the LDS First Presidency, don't exhibit this type of self
correction. Rather the opposite.
@HutteriteAs long as your religion does not "step" on the
toes of others, worship "how, where, or what you may."What
do you mean "bring it on." The founding fathers brought it on and gave
freedom of religion to all, even you. Have a great time worshiping "what
If you're not willing to accept freedom from as a component of freedom of,
you then have to be prepared to give freedom of to your worst enemy. Worse yet,
to me. Let's just say that if I cannot escape religion, then my religion
shall be a lot more fun than yours, with cheaper beer. I love a level playing
field, bring it on.
@CHS 85So then to follow your way of thinking, you then have the
right to put words in the mouths of the Supreme Court Justices (who are very
careful with their words) and say that public meetings are the same as school
meetings.Your law degree is from where?
So these two people felt "excluded" because they weren't Christian.
Tell me how all of us at times don't feel excluded by government? I
don't recall any part of the constitution that guarantees the right to be
included. Just the right to have a voice and a vote, then if things don't
go your way, you get a representative that probably excludes your feelings for
his or her entire term. You think many of us didn't feel excluded
when Obama and the Democrats pushed Obamacare through?
Re: "So many forget the part of the First Amendment that reads 'or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof.'"And so many forget
- or ignore - Jesus's instructions on how to pray: "Whenever you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in
synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to
you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the
door, and pray to your Father in secret."
So many forget the part of the First Amendment that reads "or prohibiting
the free exercise thereof;". In their zeal make sure religion and any
religious thought is prohibited in anything related to government atheists
trample the rights of American citizens. We, as Americans, are free to
practice or not practice religion as we see fit. Locations are not specified nor
are any specifics about how or what religion is performed. It doesn't say
"except while performing government duties"
I think the Bible tells us to pray over everything but to do it in secret, in
our closets etc.
@WRKI'm guessing that you know more than the Supreme Court,
who, in 1962 ruled on prayer in school. The case was Engel v. Vitale. The
decision was 6-1 - even conservative justices ruled in favor of the plaintiff
(Jewish families in New York). The same type of rulings were applied in Wallace
vs. Jaffree (1985), Lee vs. Weisman (1992), and Santa Fe ISD vs. Doe (2000).
Please look those rulings up, I've provided the cases and
years. Like I said, maybe you know more than the Supreme Court justices. I don't see how public meetings are any different than schools.
As religious zealots continue to push their hegemony, true lovers of Democracy
and freedom will continue to push back. One victory at a time, we will
eventually help to fulfill the promise of the Constitution and the Bill of
Rights to remove the establishment of religion from government.
"The Bill of RightsTHE Conventions of a number of the States,
having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in
order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further
declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground
of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of
its institution....Amendment ICongress shall
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the
right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a
redress of grievances."I don't see anywhere in there where
it specifies any location that needs to be exempt from this freedom of (not
freedom from - read it, I have supplied it for you) religion. Please explain
your comments that there should be places exempt from this freedom and why the
Constitution has not been amended to say that.Ya'll must be
smarter than the founders, enlighten me please...
@LarcenyAs the pledge was originally written in 1892: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one
nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."The
"Under God" was added in 1952 - sixty years after the pledge was
Before you start calling the United States a "Christian nation," ask the
5.3 million American Jews, the 2.2 million American Buddhists, the 1.9 million
American Muslims, and the 5 million American atheists, agnostics and those
unaffiliated with any church what they think about that.
Prayer doesn't need to be performed publicly, and government doesn't
need to promote the idea that magic beings who stand outside the laws of nature
make things happen on behalf of their favourites that wouldn't otherwise
happen. And given that Robert Bellah just died, it's a shame that lawyer
Michael Whitehead felt the need to take a gratuitous swipe at the man and his
idea of 'civil religion'. It's humorous that he did so in a way
that exposed his poor understanding of the term.
It would please me to see prayer prohibited at all government related business.
People in this country already enjoy the immense freedom to worship what ever
religion they choose on their own time. Prayer has no place in government
"One nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All"
Through prayer God can be asked for wisdom. heaven knows we need it given all
the mismanagement and sub optimal management going on in our country.Since prayer was taken out of school education has gone downhill coincidence?
I suspect not.
Before filing suits about prayer at public meetings -- an attack on the
separation of Church and State -- lawmakers should first present evidence that
God exists. Since they can't (other than by quoting the Bible), lawmakers
are basically saying they are in favor of religious prayer to a deity whose
existence has not yet been established in a court of law. If that were to
happen, anyone who believes in the tooth fairy or the cookie monster could set
up public prayer ceremonies in court houses and government builds of all kinds
throughout the country. And we wouldn't want that to happen, do we?