Most voters favor prayer, minus Jesus, at public meetings


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  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    April 24, 2014 3:39 p.m.

    @SCfan – “I disagree that the 1st amendment is absolute about not having any religious recognition by government, or the state”

    I’m simply going off the document and what the SC has said about throughout our history. It seems pretty absolute to me, but I think you captured it well with your “neutrality” comment. Our government simply stays out of religion all together and thus is never in any danger of picking sides or “establishing” a position.

    I am curious about your theocracy comment though in this sense – if you truly & deeply believe that following your religion is the key to eternal salvation, why wouldn’t you want that religion to be the law of land? Wouldn’t more souls be saved if the law set the boundaries on living a righteous (according to the true faith) life?

    Carrying this to its logical extreme - wouldn’t we be justified in, say, burning a heretic if it meant that person could no longer influence our children and society at large? If we could “cleanse” our society of non-believers, probability alone suggests many more would be saved, yes?

    Reached comment limit…

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    April 24, 2014 2:07 p.m.

    I disagree that the 1st amendment is absolute about not having any religious recognition by government, or the state. You seem to be taking that side. If not then I guess we have been talking at cross purposes. (Christmas come to mind?) And the facts are on my side as my first post proved, along with the aforementioned Christmas. And as I hope you will agree with, in spite of those cases where religion has become a part of government, we do not live in a theocracy. We are no where near a theocracy and could never be. Even the most conservative/religious people in the country would not want that. Believe me, I'm one of them and I know. So, fear not. A little recognition of religion by any federal or state body is not threatening you or anyone else. And it's not establishing any religion. There is no force being used, unless you want to percieve there is but then that's your choice. However the majority should not need to change tradition because of a few irrational feelings or ideas.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    April 24, 2014 1:33 p.m.

    @SCfan – “.....or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    Of course…

    The government cannot stop you from praying, going to church, or believing anything you want to. What they can stop you from doing is violating the 1st clause by claiming to be engaging in the 2nd clause… a fact that seems lost on many today.

    Read the opinion of Scalia (perhaps the most friendly to the Religious Right SC Judge in history) in Employment Division v Smith where he essentially restates 200+ years of precedent regarding the boundaries within religion is free to operate (i.e. “free exercise” does not mean one can violate the law or Constitution).

    If you still disagree, then honestly, I’m not sure what you’re arguing for… a theocracy?

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    April 24, 2014 10:53 a.m.

    Tyler D .....or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. You seem to have forgotten the rest of the establishment clause. The very fact you make, about the extensive writings by the Founders on the subject only goes to show how important it is that the phrase "wall of seperation" or some other such phrase was NOT included after all was said, written, and done and the final product came out. Certainly if the Founders had concluded it should be a hard absolute line, they would have included it. Instead they created what is essentially a neutrality clause that has equal parts pro and con regarding religion in America. Plus, it cannot be dismissed that the Founders were very much against any state established church, as they were coming from such in England.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    April 24, 2014 10:13 a.m.

    @SCfan – “Well that's nice for good old James Madison. Thomas Jefferson also was reported to have wanted a "wall of seperation" in the Constitution too.”

    Yes, what does James (the Father of the Constitution) Madison and Thomas (author of the Declaration of Independence) Jefferson know about the founding of our country anyway?

    Oh and the amendment you’re looking is #1 – the one that opens with “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

    Notice it does not say “establishment of A religion” which would imply a national church (i.e., Anglican in those days). It say “establishment OF religion” meaning any religious doctrine, beliefs, etc., which is the same as saying a “wall of separation” between the government and religion.

    The Founders wrote extensively on this on and the meaning is quite clear…

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    April 24, 2014 9:58 a.m.

    Tyler D

    Well that's nice for good old James Madison. Thomas Jefferson also was reported to have wanted a "wall of seperation" in the Constitution too. However I'd say both those guys, in spite of their great stature in American history lost on this issue, and lost HUGE. And unless the Constitution says otherwise, (which it won't without an amendment), the wall of seperation crowd should continue to lose too.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 24, 2014 8:05 a.m.

    Seldom seen Smith,
    It is ironic that the Pilgrams came to America to escape religion and today there are those who wish to make America into what the Pilgrams fled to escape. Most times it is best for one to keep their supernatural believes and religion to themselves.

  • Greggory Wood SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    April 23, 2014 12:57 p.m.

    @patriot: You seem to betray your moniker: we don't have a democracy: we have a Republic.
    @seldom seen: The Constitution provides us with the right of conscience: it does not afford us a state religion. I certainly am not in the wrong country; perhaps you are reading a different constitution?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    April 23, 2014 10:44 a.m.

    @Karen R. – “Why not a moment of silence instead? Doesn't this allow room for everyone to do their own thing - including praying?”

    Because apparently many people in this country think Jesus was simply wrong in Matthew 6:6.

    @patriot – “The majority do NOT and should NOT have to bow to the whims of the minority.”

    Unless the Constitution says otherwise.

    @SCfan – “And yet they still have a chaplin and prayers. And the military does too.”

    James Madison thought government paid chaplains were unconstitutional.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    April 23, 2014 8:23 a.m.

    If Congress can have a chaplin and a prayer, then why shouldn't anyone else? Plus, when you read the prayer, it is very generic. Not religion specific. Far too many people believe that there is a wall of seperation plainly stated in the constitution. Well, the first amendment is for all intent and purposes a neutrality clause stating that congress will make no laws either promoting or demoting religion. In other words, they are supposed to stay out of it altogether. And yet they still have a chaplin and prayers. And the military does too. And the military is certainly a "state" institution, funded by tax payers. This whole seperation of church and state thing is a straw man argument. If it really existed there would be no state funded chaplins and prayers.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    April 23, 2014 6:37 a.m.

    The Scientist,

    "Absence of belief is not the same thing as actively trying to DISbelieve."

    Trying to disbelieve?

  • Ohio Guy Springboro, OH
    April 23, 2014 6:31 a.m.

    Amendment I to the U.S. Constitution (part of the Bill of Rights), "Congress 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."

    Doesn't the restriction of prayer go against the constitution when it states ". . . or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ."? The constitution doesn't guarantee freedom from religion, it guarantees freedom of religion.

    If you don't believe in God, then what does it matter to you that others do believe and want to pray to Him? Is it hurting you? Does a moment of silence make it any better for those "non-believers". And, if you believe in God but don't believe in the same God as the one praying, is it hurting you if that person is praying to their God?

  • Seldom Seen Smith Orcutt, CA
    April 22, 2014 9:46 p.m.

    If you don't like religion then you're in the wrong country, or else the United States must have a do over, because it is in our nations founding documents.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    April 22, 2014 9:44 p.m.

    enough of this PC crap. If the majority of the people in the community are Christian then they have the right to offer a Christian prayer. It's called DEMOCRACY!! Majority rules. If you are offended by a Christian prayer then walk out of the room for the prayer. The majority do NOT and should NOT have to bow to the whims of the minority.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 22, 2014 5:56 p.m.

    Keep religion out of the public square. There are thousands of years of bad policy of public religion.

  • Greggory Wood SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    April 22, 2014 2:15 p.m.

    This has to be the silliest of surveys. The Constitution establishes one's freedom of conscience, while at the same time protecting our secular Republic from the encroachment of religion, religious movements and theocratic bullies: we are to have no establishment of a state religion; and we are to have the right to freely confess a faith, including the right to aver no belief in any particular religion or god. To take a survey to find out what kind of watered-down public invocation that garners the highest percentage is folly. Surely you have the right to believe in whatever god or faith you wish, but please don't attempt the fatuous claim that the United States is a Christian country.

  • Lu Groberg Eagle Mountain, UT
    April 22, 2014 1:55 p.m.

    In God We Trust. He is the reason for the founding of this Nation. To pass laws that remove Him or His son from prayer would be wrong. To take away our right to pray to Him as we begin a public meeting, in this land that we treasure the freedoms to worship according to our desires, and in this land that He gave us, would be a show of "inflated strength of one's personal status (wiki)" and forgetting who we are and our relationship to Him. Whether one chooses to believe in and worship God or Jesus Christ is really the beauty of freedom. But to strip that right from believers is wrong! To mandate that we pray publicly keeping absent God or Christ in that prayer is stripping all people this freedom.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    April 22, 2014 12:37 p.m.

    "Even unbelievers — atheists who would say prayer ‘is not for me’ — approved” of allowing nonspecific prayer."

    First of all, we are not UNbelievers, we are NONbelievers. Absence of belief is not the same thing as actively trying to DISbelieve. As soon as somebody (like a god?) provides enough evidence, I would be more than happy to believe. The fault is not with me, it is with the arguments presented by the believers and their gods.

    Second, the statement is correct. I do not object to "nonspecific prayer". Indeed, I think the fatal flaw of religion is that their gods are "nonspecific" enough that nobody really can demonstrate to whom or what they are actually directing their prayers. They give lip service to the idea that the "god" Christians worship is the same god as the god worshipped in Islam, and on and on. But that god everybody seems to be worshipping and "obeying" is either suffering chronic and eternal schizoid mental states, or is not the same god.

    Therefore, nonspecific prayers to nonspecific gods is appropriately meaningless and harmless. Go for it.

  • Northern Lights Arco, ID
    April 22, 2014 12:03 p.m.

    Abraham Lincoln described our government as a "government of the people, by the people, for the people." To say that religion has no place in government effectively tells me to set aside my beliefs - abandon who I am - in order to participate in government. I disagree with this. Further, I believe there are ways to reasonably accommodate all beliefs in such a government without denying anyone's constitutional right to religious, or lack of religious, belief.

  • DeseretDebbie Corona, CA
    April 22, 2014 11:57 a.m.

    There is no point in having any government meeting opened/closed with any prayer. Short of a memorial service that is government led it has no justification. If any individual chooses to silently pray that's their right but nothing that is public.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 22, 2014 11:19 a.m.

    Karen R.

    That would be a way too sensible solution, so I doubt it will happen. I think it is a great idea though.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    April 22, 2014 10:57 a.m.

    Why not a moment of silence instead? Doesn't this allow room for everyone to do their own thing - including praying?

  • JLindow St George, UT
    April 22, 2014 9:55 a.m.

    Religion should have no place in government.

    For an example of the opposite approach, look at the Middle East.