Many have stated that the problem is not with prayer, but with exclusively
Christian prayer, at the town council meetings. However, readers of Will's
article will find that non-Christian prayers have been offered at the council
meetings, and there is no evidence the council has ever forbidden non-Christian
prayers. The town is overwhelmingly Christian, and unsurprisingly, the local
citizens who are interested enough to seek the opportunity of offering an
invocation are likewise overwhelmingly Christian. As long as those citizens are
being granted the opportunity they seek, and the council is not turning anyone
away on the basis of religious belief or denomination, where's the
problem?Why do some people presume they have a right not to be
exposed to the beliefs of others? How is one citizen harmed by being present
while another citizen expresses himself in prayer?
Unfortunately "live and let live" doesn't seem to be an option.
The same peopel who argue "what I do doesn't hurt you" do
everything they can to make us support what they support and not perform in what
they don't like.There is, in fact, a malicious spiritual force
on the earth; we don't live in a moral vaccuum. We can't see it, but
its effects are as clear as gravity and sunlight.
We live in a country where we have a Constitution, a Supreme Law of the Land.
We are bound by the Constitution, no matter what a "majority" of the
citizens think at any particular time. If the citizens want yo change the
Constitution, they MUST use the process defined in the Constitution. At the
current time, we have the right to speak and government is forbidden to
interfere with either religion or our right to speak. The Court upheld the
Constitution, as written, no matter what the "majority" might think.
Oh and Redshirt:"Again, you are wanting to establish Atheism as
a state religion. The only way to maintain a true freedom of religion is to
allow all religions, from Wiccans, to Christians, to Jews, to Muslims, to
Atheists to offer an invocation at the beginning of the meeting"That better not be the only way, there are over 1,200 religions practiced in
the United States alone. If what you say is the only way, every meeting will
start with a year of prayer.
No Red I'm not. You need those who believe in a strong separation to think
that way so you can feel persecuted and act the martyr. But that isn't even
close to the actual legal argument. You're not within 1,000 miles of
reality. Not on the definition of atheism, not on the goals of church/state
separation, not on what a secular government is, not on any of it. I don't
expect you to agree with any of this though. I actually enjoy
debating the topic of separation with people who can take the discussion
seriously and not resort to frankly pathetic fabrications such as "atheism
is a religion" and that we are after "atheism as a state religion".
You can continue to use them if you want Red, but again it just shows that you
are incapable of having a rational, reasonable discussion about this subject.
Your side doesn't need to resort to these silly things either.
You have several perfectly good legal arguments you can use to support your
ideas, that's what I find most humorous. You use these things that make you
look silly and ignore the real points you could make.
@JackMy assumptions are based on what has happened in the past and
what has already stared since the ruling. The County Board of Directors in
Roanoke County, VA has already started looking at repealing their non-sectarian
prayer policy in order to play favorites to Christian prayer. When Supervisor Al
Bedros was asked about allowing non-Christian prayer he stated he probably would
not--Roanoke Times, May 5. In 2007 a Hindu Cleric was invited to provide the
opening invocation in the US Senate. Christian groups launched a writing
campaign to stop it and "Christian" protesters trying to stop the
invocation had to be physically removed from the chambers. When the 1st Muslim
elected to congress chose to take his oath on the Q'uarn a letter right
campaign ensued demanding congress pass a law requiring the Christian bible as
the only text on which elected representatives could receive their oath. Yeah, I
may assume, but I have history on my side. Bottom line, the court screwed up
when they said secular state institutions can begin doing the peoples business
with a prayer and "Christian" prayer can be favored at the exclusion of
To "The Wraith" you need to back up one more step. You first need to
define religion.According to the dictionary a religion is "a
specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a
number of persons or sects". So, atheism by definition is a religion. Even
the Federal Government recognizes atheism as a religion.You
don't have the establishment clause right either. A state religion does
not make private worship in an alternate religion illegal. A state religion
simply means that the Government adheres to the beliefs of a single religion.Again, you are wanting to establish Atheism as a state religion. The
only way to maintain a true freedom of religion is to allow all religions, from
Wiccans, to Christians, to Jews, to Muslims, to Atheists to offer an invocation
at the beginning of the meeting.
RedShirt that response was not only completely predictable but completely
wrong.Let's start with a simple definition. atheism is a
rejection of belief in any god whereas religion is defined as a set of beliefs
centered on a god or gods. Therefore atheism cannot be a religion. Oh I know,
people like to say that it is because they think it's clever but, all it
really shows is that the person doesn't understand English. In future you
should say "establishing atheism as a state policy" when tossing out
this canard. Second, in order to establish atheism as a state policy
I would have to be in favor of passing laws making any kind of religious worship
illegal, not just in the public square but in the private one as well. Such a
state policy would demand that all churches close and all holy books be
destroyed. I am very much opposed to such laws.Being in favor of a
strong separation of church and state is NOTHING like that - and equating the
two positions simply shows me that you are incapable of having a rational and
reasonable discussion about church/state separation.
To "The Wraith" let me get this right. You are not trying to destroy
religion, but you are establishing Atheism or Secular Humanism up as a state
religion.I don't know about you, but I am quite sure that
setting up Atheism or Secular Humanism as a state religion is against the
I find articles like this funny and the comments by people here hilarious. So
many of you buy into the line that the people pushing to ban prayer in
government meeting are "offended" or want to "destroy religion"
or whatever. Perhaps this is true for a handful of people but as one of these
atheists who supports a strict wall of separation I am none of those things. Not
only that I've never met anyone who even remotely fits this profile
you've all dreamed up in your heads.We aren't trying to
destroy your religion, or make it illegal for you to be religious. We are a
group of people who simply want the government to worry about governing and
religion to worry about religious matters and never the twain shall meet. In
fact, I support your right to worship and exercise your religion I just believe
in a strong separation of church and state.Of course we can have
debate and discussion over the separation idea but that's very different
than accusing us of trying to destroy the world simply because we hold a
differing opinion on a legal matter.
"Taking offense has become America's national pastime", and thin
skinned. Yes! All you have to do is read some of the comments on here, or flip
on the news.
The danger to America here is that those offering the prayers actually believe
the prayers mean something more than the traditional seating arrangement of the
counsel members. It's the belief that "God said" that
puts life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness at risk.It's
the belief that "God given rights" is anything more than an
understandable metaphor for inalienable human rights that is a danger to
@my 2 Cents,There you go again, assuming. Had you read the article, you
would have seen that different religions other than Christian had offered
prayers, and the world didn't end. The whole case was about some
non-religious folks getting offended over prayer from any source. The
Christians didn't complain, the atheists did. You seem to be projecting
your feelings onto others and then claiming they are theirs. Bottom line, the
court ruled correctly that government cannot restrict a person from prayer.
That prayer can be of many different flavors, not just Christian. This
wasn't about a "correct" religion, it was about "any"
@Mike Richards said A PUBLIC meeting cannot restrict speechExactly!
And that includes speech the majority might not like; non-Christian prayers that
might rankle the Christian; and, allowing a secularist, Muslim, or Hindu Cleric
the opportunity to offer the invocation. Sadly, though, history shows that free
speech when it comes to prayer in the public square is general free only to
those of the "correct" religion.
re: cavetroll,You do understand the difference between public
government functions and private business activities don't you? Do you
want the government to enter your home (private) and tell you how to raise your
family? Neither do I; but, when I drive on a public street, I have no objection
to the government erecting a speed limit to protect me from others and to
protect them from me.A PUBLIC meeting cannot restrict speech,
according to YOUR Constitution. A public meeting cannot legislate restrictions
on religion or religious activities, including prayer, according to YOUR
Constitution. The Supreme Court upheld YOUR Constitution.A PRIVATE
business can limit speech. A PRIVATE business can mandate or reject prayer. A
PRIVATE business can refuse service (i.e. No Shirts, No Shoes, No Service).
Those signs are posted everywhere in America. I've seen those sanctions in
action. Unlike those who DEMAND that a private business serve them, most of us
understand that private property and private businesses are PRIVATE and that a
business owner has no obligation whatsoever to offer service if he chooses
I agree!I'm so tired of the right getting offended over
everything!Anyone else remember when Christians wanted to build a
rec center near 9/11 and Muslims freaked out? Remember that? Remember how
Muslims complained to Obama and criticized him for not standing up to those
christians? Remember how am radio screamed at those Muslims for not allowing
religious freedom for those Christians to build their rec center? Talk about thin skin! It's just a rec center! Why did those Muslims freak
out over a Christian rec center?Ohhh wait....
I oppose legislative prayer for the reason articulated in the majority opinion -
it is *ceremonial*. In other words, in the very words the High Court used to
sustain the practice, it has shorn it of any deep, sincere religious meaning.
In my view, such "ceremonial" prayer has all the trappings of a modern
Rameumpton.I want to remove legislative prayer precisely because I
am religious and want to protect my religion. Rendering prayer
"ceremonial" does more to harm religion in the long run than it does to
I remember a certain group of folks who didn't want those muslims building
a mosque for praying a few blocks from ground zero. Who was that again?
Yes, we certainly are a nation taking offense at every opportunity.
Why can't they just have a prayer 5 or 10 BEFORE the official meeting, and
not necessarily being a part of it?We even do that in preparation
for LDS Sacrament Meetings for crying out loud.
@ Mike Richards"When does discrimination end?"I
couldn't agree with you more. Where does discrimination end? Does it end
where a person refuses business with another because they don't approve of
a certain lifestyle? Or does it end somewhere else? One person's beliefs
are another person's discrimination. "How can anyone who
claims to be an America discriminate against someone because he prays or because
he prays differently than you do?" Or because he doesn't pray? Ask
Judge Roy Moore in Alabama how he feels about non Christians and their prayers.
I do agree with that question, though. How can one claim to be American and
discriminate against others?"Is that what America has become, a
land where offense is taken because he doesn't believe exactly as you
believe?" Unfortunately and very sadly, yes, this is what America has
become. And it's not just liberals or the younger generations.
IF your skin's really that thin... don't go to city council meetings.
There's a lot more contentious things going on at these
meetings than who gets to say the prayer...If you can't handle
the prayer... you're REALLY going to have a hard time with the rest of the
my_two_cents_worth,Has ANYBODY... ANYWHERE... said it had to be a
"Christian" prayer????Did the court say that? No...Did a single post suggest that? No...You guys are getting
all upset over this assumption... one that from everything I know is a FALSE
assumption, based on a strawman argument.Lets try it... and see if
it's required to be a Christian Prayer or not... I know
we've had Muslims and people of other faiths offer the prayer before... why
would it be a problem now???
When does discrimination end? How can anyone who claims to be an America
discriminate against someone because he prays or because he prays differently
than you do? Is that what America has become, a land where offense is taken
because he doesn't believe exactly as you believe? Today, you
claim the right to be shielded from public prayer. Tomorrow, what will you
demand? Will you demand that anyone who dares to publicly speak about politics
who doesn't promote YOUR brand of politics should be denied the right to
speak? Is that what freedom of speech means to you? Since you want
to censor speech, what are the rules? What speech do you censor? You've
already told us that we can't address God in our public speech. What if we
cite prayers offered by the Founding Fathers? Will they be censored? Will
George Washington's prayer for guidance be censored? Will Jefferson's
prayer for the nation be censored? Will Lincoln's prayer for peace be
censored? Will FDR's prayer in dark times be censored? Will JFK's
prayer of gratitude be censored? What about Reagan's prayer, Carter's
prayer, Clinton's prayer?
It is very amusing to me that so many are quick to assume that religiously
affiliated people would be offended by prayers not of their faith. While that
may be the case for some, my experience has shown that not to be true. As an LDS
Missionary I would invite the people who I visited with to offer a prayers, no
matter what religion, or lack of religion they identified themselves with, being
offended was never felt by me or my companion. And I heard many prayers that I
would consider strange. I think contention on this issue may demonstrate a
growing inability of people to listen to opinions and views different than their
@Mike Richards"what makes people afraid of prayer?"It tends to favor the prevailing mythology at the exclusion of all others and
is dismissive of those who find the whole ritual somewhat silly."Why are they offended when someone uses...that right to speak to
God?"We are not offended when someone exercises their individual
protected speech rights. It's when the state, city, county, or other
secular institutions wrongly assume individual religious rights apply to them
and then promote one religion over all others in the exercise of that
non-existent group "right." "Why do they want
legislation that prohibits prayer"We don't. The freedom of
religion is an individual right. My city council is not an individual and has no
rights other than what we as members of the city have conferred upon it in doing
the city's business. Praying is not the city's business. Promoting one
flavor of religion over others even less so."If prayer is
forbidden in public,"It isn't. "Christians" in the
US, however, seem to think it should be restricted to Christian only prayer.
That's the real problem.
Prayer or no, we should all practice being tolerant to everyone. Then, after a
lot of practice, we will see that we have become more tolerant and have better
and more meaningful encounters with others. I like meeting new people and I
like getting to know them and what they're about. In the words of Rodney
King, "Can't we all just get along?"
@egad1,Did the court decision say it had to be a "Christian
Prayer"???You really need a thick skin to live in a free
country.Because sooner or later there's going to be somebody
who's different than you... somebody who wants to be religious (when you
aren't). Or somebody who wants to NOT be religious (and you are). Or
somebody who wants MORE liberty, and somebody who wants LESS liberty.You are going to need a thick skin to let that person be the way he wants to
be... while you not worry about it and go on being the way YOU want to be.If you are not religious... and it's your goal in life to limit
religious people... you're always going to be frustrated in a FREE society
(because you can't control or limit them).Same goes for
religious people who want to use the government to force somebody to be more
religious.... it doesn't work in a free society. So you have to learn to
tolerate others and allow people to be different....Just be patient
and tolerant and it will be over in seconds...
I agree that some on the left are too easily offended. But oh my goodness, all
I read on these comments day after day are conservatives offended by something.
If someone says Cliven Bundy or what's his name Sterling spoke
inappropriately, conservatives come out of the woodwork complaining about how
some black guy somewhere said something nasty about a white person, blah, blah,
blah. If someone says gay people should be able to marry, conservatives
complain about how their religious freedom has been violated (Even though they
are still completely free to practice their religion. The only thing they are
not as free to do now is to make sure everyone else practices their religion.)
A bigger bunch of complainers and "victims" I have never seen. I think
it is a characteristic of people on the fringes politically. I just happen to
see/hear a lot more on the right.
What would the cities do if theists started to complain about how all local and
state government meetings were started in an Atheist manner, without prayer.
Why should the government adopt Atheisism as a state religion? Shouldn't
Christians, Jews, wiccans, Hindus, Buddhists, and all other religions be
offended that government meetings are opened with the abscence of a plea to
"Taking offense has become America's national pastime; being
theatrically offended supposedly signifies the exquisitely refined moral
delicacy of people who feel entitled to pass through life without encountering
ideas or practices that annoy them."That statement applies to
both the right and left wings of our political spectrum these days. Both sides
have gotten so absurd that they find offense in everything they experience, and
attempt to sanitize their environments so that only what they believe is
experienced. "America would be a more congenial place if it had
more amiable atheists who say, as one such did, that "it does me no injury
for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket
nor breaks my leg." You could also change the word
"atheists" to "Christians/Muslims/Jews,etc" in this quote. Who
cares what your neighbor believes. Who cares if a council prays before a
meeting? If you don't believe in a Christian God, just sit there and make a
general nuisance of yourself. Neither one does any harm.
honestly the majority of people could care less about all this PC stuff - the
bottom line they are NOT offended. The only ones offended are the radicals - the
atheists - and the small number of the PC crowd who seem to make all the noise.
No irony intended, but I find it extremely offensive when someone stands up and
says "why are you so offended all the time? Grow a thicker skin."
Voicing an objection to an obviously discriminatory ruling should not be
trivialized and demeaned.The issue isn't whether or not
it's constitutional to say a prayer before a government meeting. The
question is whether or not it's constitutional to only say CHRISTIAN
prayers in government meetings. It's an all-or-nothing proposition,
meaning we must have ALL faith groups represented, or none, and the SCOTUS has
obviously chosen the former with its ruling. Therefore, before EVERY government
meeting, we now need to open with prayers of ANY faith group in attendance, upon
request. If a Muslim wants to chant to Allah, it must be allowed. If a Pagan
wants to perform a ritual, it must be allowed. And so on. The problem is, this
won't happen, because anyone who requests to recite their non-Christian
faith's prayers will be seen as un-American, because of this ruling. And
yes, I find that offensive, as an American.
@Hutterite Does "anyone" really include "anyone?" Do you not
believe that there are certain acts, or people who subscribe to particular acts,
that society - as a whole - would find reprehensible and not suitable for any
type of public display? Are there not certain people - because their acts and
choice of "worship" are so objectionable that most would not choose to
invite their public display of "religiosity?"
Re: "As the number of nonbelievers grows . . . so does the itch to litigate
believers into submission to secular sensibilities."Exactly.Today's iconoclastic liberal secularists would have been
jack-booted National Socialists, unwashed Bolshevik pikemen, or Maoist
book-toting Red Guards, had the accident of birth placed them in the appropriate
time and place.To them, the core issue in not really religion, or
its practice, doctrines or dogma. Rather, it's control over their neighbors
and fellow citizens. Courtrooms are the barricades they've elected to man.
And, too many callow, doctrinaire jurists are handing them the bricks and pavers
they throw at us.
People who seek offense will always find something to be offended about. People
who seek unity will look for ways to promote unity. If George Will is
"agnostic" or an “amiable, low-voltage atheist” as LDS
Liberal reported, then George is showing, by example, that even those who may
not have a belief in Deity can be tolerant when others desire to pray.My question is, what makes people afraid of prayer? Why are they offended
when someone uses his right to speak, to use that right to speak to God? Why do
they want legislation that prohibits prayer when the Constitution guarantees
that Congress will not interfere with religion? Is "free speech"
offensive to them or do they want to do away with the Constitution? If prayer is forbidden in public, how long would it be before prayer is
forbidden in a family setting, after all, some are now telling us that only the
public school should be allowed to teach our children. COULD prayer be seen as
teaching children that there is a God?
Come on "Taking offense has become America's national
pastime . . . "And no where is that more true than in George F
Will or Charles Krauthammer columns.Right Wing "Pundits" in
general make taking offense their reason for existence. Taking offense is what
they do.George F Will is projecting again.
Excellent points George, as usual.This class of the perpetually
offended remind me of brats from my childhood who were constantly on the lookout
for any behavior in others that would even skirt the edge of propriety and
provide for themselves an opportunity to report the behavior to the nearest
teacher, parent, or any other authority figure who they would expect to exact
some form of punishment.Their personality type is brimming with such
an overabundance of passive aggression they always feel a need to force others
into some kind of submission to their will. Like people who park in the passing
lane and drive at or just below the speed limit. Another good example is the
puritanical PC thought and language police who have become so destructively
influential in academia and many agencies of government.Fortunately,
they haven't yet become as influential or destructive to freedom as in
countries where that obsessive control mentality has become the official form of
government, such as all the Communist and other Facist, totalitarian countries.
But, that is the direction toward which all of these control obsessives face
and, inevitably, wish to push others.
"...The court has never held that legislative prayer must be
nonsectarian...just ceremonial...".Will applauds the courts
wisdom in avoiding a prescription for legislative prayer...Yet fails
to see ceremonial prayer as the court approved nuance...default.Purists will say this is an unacceptable distinction...Purists
overlook the fact that 5 unelected lawyers have at least approved prayer...even though that approval extends only to prayer somehow nuanced as
I'm amenable to the Jeffersonian approach to this. I don't mind if
there's prayer before the meeting; just be prepared and willing to let
anyone who comes in the door to have a turn. Anyone.
Like I was saying yesterday...I don't understand whey atheists
and the LEFT (which claim to not care about prayer, religion, and are supposedly
uber-tolerant of different life-styles, different opinions, people not like
them, etc)... yet they are in and all out war AGAINST prayer in a meeting???
AND... they claim the reason they are against it is because
Christians would complain if somebody from another religion prayed in a
meeting!That's just bunk...That's not
tolerance...#1. It won't happen.#2. Even if it does...
who cares. People complain about things all the time. Doesn't stop us
from preserving liberty!IF we curtailed people's Constitutional
liberties every time somebody complained... we would soon have NO
LIBERTIES...Freedom of religion is no different than any other
freedom we have. Don't assume you know best and must use the government to
restrict us for our own good.When there is liberty... there will be
some abuse, and some complaining. Doesn't mean you end that liberty...
Interesting, Since George Will revealed in a Colbert Report interview that
he is an agnostic.In a later story he said he is an “amiable,
"....Taking offense has become America's national pastime; being
theatrically offended supposedly signifies the exquisitely refined moral
delicacy of people who feel entitled to pass through life without encountering
ideas or practices that annoy them...."______________________________It's far more than a national
pastime. There is an irrepressible strain of Puritanism in our national blood.
We see it on both the extreme left and the extreme right.
It occurs to me that the same people who find public prayer an endorsement of a
particular religion would also find that the number of, say Christian churches,
in a particular town or city would also be seen as an endorsement of a
particular religion. After all, the city or town is run by a government. A
government that provides services such as police, fire, water, ect. to said
churches. In a perfect world of seperation of church and state, those things
should not be provided by the state. However, since we don't live in a
would of perfect seperation, the state will provide services to not just one
church, but all religions and their structures. That is how our country is run
and it seems a very reasonable way to do it. As Mr. Will said in so many words,
there are just a lot people looking for a reason to be offended and become
litigious as a result. Thomas Jefferson would have in so many words told them
to "mellow out."