Comments about ‘George F. Will: Thin skins and prayer’

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Published: Thursday, May 8 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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clearfield, UT

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."

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

"....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.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Since George Will revealed in a Colbert Report interview that he is an agnostic.
In a later story he said he is an “amiable, low-voltage atheist.”

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

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...

American Fork, UT

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.

There You Go Again
Saint George, UT

"...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 ceremonial.


Salt Lake City, UT

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.

Virginia Beach, VA

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.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

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?

Tooele, UT

Re: "As the number of nonbelievers grows . . . so does the itch to litigate believers into submission to secular sensibilities."


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.


@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?"

Los Angeles, CA

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.

Cedar Hills, UT

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.


"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.

Pasedena, CA

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 deity?

Provo, UT

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.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

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...

Salt Lake, UT

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?"

university place, WA

@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.

Daniel L.
Murray, UT

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 own.

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