I wish you would have shared the suggestions for prayers in a diverse group. I
remember hearing suggestions that we avoid praying for specific religious
leaders, like the Mormon Prophet or the Pope. If we end our prayer with "In
the name of our Lord and Savior" we would be including Jews. If we ended our
prayer with "In the name of the One True God" maybe we could include
Muslims. Or we could we start our prayer addressing "the Creator of the
Universe" to include our Atheist friends. Mostly we would be asking for a
higher power to bless our efforts and help us be more respectful and loving of
each other. What are your thoughts?
@Larene, if they have people of different religions offering prayers, then let
them pray as they do in their religion. To ask someone to offer a prayer that
would be "all inclusive" for a diverse group is ridiculous. That alone
is taking away religious freedom.
Love to hear it! Sorry liberals - its legal. Don't like it?
Tough. Deal with itYay!
@Chris B;Next time I'm at a public meeting, I'm going to
ask to pray. I'll pray to satan - just because.I want to see
some conservative heads explode when I reply to the criticism: "its legal,
Don't like it? Tough. Deal with it."
Ranch,And in the meantime I get to enjoy libs heads exploding!Hooray for prayers in public meetings. So great!
Our heads aren't exploding Chris B just shaking. I'm not angry just
disappointed. I prefer the absolute separation of church and state favored by
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. I believe that this absolute line leads to a
much better government and much better laws. Allowing religion into the
government only harms both religion and government.
@The Wraith,I, too, am a supporter of the separation of church and state.
That's why I'm a huge fan of letting folks, of any religion, offer
prays in public settings. No one here is advocating that a state sponsored
church say these prayers. Anyone, from any religion has the opportunity to
offer a prayer. Hence, the "separation from church and state" is fully
in tact. Did you hear me? Religion, not church. When you say "absolute
separation of church and state", what you are really saying is that you want
God out of anything that has to do with local, state or federal government. So
be honest about it, please. Most people in our society believe in God and are
very comfortable with the religious principles upon which the country was
founded, and are happy to honor those principles through a celebration of all
religious traditions...as this new policy in Mesa does.
Some peoples partisanship demonstrates that their heads exploded long ago.If the person praying before a group is not praying on behalf of the
group (I.e., leading the group in prayer), but is instead just offering a
personal prayer in public, then what is the point? Say your personal prayers in
private. But if the person praying (acting as "voice" for the group) is
supposed to be leading the group in prayer, to which everyone is supposed to say
"amen", then the voice is obligated to make an all inclusive prayer.If you refuse to be inclusive in public gatherings, you do not belong in
public gatherings, least of all praying in them.
@J. RichardsonThat is certainly one interpretation of separation.
It's just not the one I support. If you noticed I said I prefer the idea of
absolute separation favored by Jefferson and Madison. I did not say it was the
only interpretation, just the one that I think is the best one. Madison and
Jefferson actually took a position that was more absolute than even the modern
ACLU. Madison felt that Army chaplains were a violation of the 1st Amendment. He
warned in many of his writings against the "danger of silent accumulations
& encroachments by Ecclesiastical Bodies" into government. Jefferson
would not even issue a national declaration of prayer or even one of
thanksgiving (not just to god but even a general one) because he felt it was a
violation of the 1st amendment. He refused to do so even under severe political
pressure and didn't his 8 years in office. Madison only issued a few during
the War of 1812 and later said they ranked as some his greatest regrets from his
time in office.Again, I understand your interpretation I just
don't think it's the correct one.
My goodness, have you heard these prayers? I don't understand the problem
with someone praying that the meeting can "be productive" or "that
we can unite together" or "that we can support the will of the
people". Where is the harm in this?As you bow your head, or just
listen, or whatever....what is it exactly that you're opposing? As "A
Scientist" said, it's not praying on behalf of the group. Even prayers
within religious organizations vary greatly based on who is giving it. But
that's in a totally different setting than this. These are generic
prayers, and harmless. Are there guidelines to the prayers? Do they have to pray
to a God that Wraith or Ranch or anyone don't believe in?I doubt it.
I imagine the person giving the prayer can say, "We are gathered this day to
come together as citizens of Mesa and we pray that we can be productive in our
efforts and represent the....blah blah. Amen." Heck, if you don't agree
with that, don't say "amen".
@ Wraith,Fair enough. However, regardless of his personal
preference, Jefferson established a definition of separation of church and
state: "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole
American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."
The Mesa school board is neither making law to establish a particular religion
nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Inclusion of religious influence and
principles has been the established precedent from day one of our Republic. And
while our American experiment is relatively short on history, its success is
unquestioned. If you could provide an example of success from another country
or system of government wherein religious influence is voided, then perhaps your
thesis that society free from the government/religion mix is better would have
credence. The only absolute system that comes to mind is Communism, and some
would say that Communism is preferred. I am not one of those. My guess is
neither are you. Absolutism can only lead to extremism and extremism in
government only leads to disaster. Anyway, take care and thanks for the
J. RichardsonYou should find a different founder to support your
argument. Perhaps John Adams or Even Washington. Jefferson would have not been
happy about allowing prayer in even a local meeting. That's why I chose him
as my reference point. I may not believe in any of these religions but I
absolutely believe that allowing any kind of religion, even something as simple
as praying before a public meeting, as harmful not just to government but to the
religion itself. For people who want to secure religious freedom they should be
the ones fighting for the strongest separation.
Many people, especially atheists and agnostics argue that the separation of
Church and State means that God cannot be brought up in any secular situation.
That is not what it means. It means that our government cannot make us attend a
federal-sanctioned church - force us to worship in only one certain way.
It's a protection of religion from secularism, not the other way around.
To quote Jefferson himself as he spoke about the United States Bill of Rights:
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man
& his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship,
that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions,
I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people
which declared that THEIR LEGISLATURE SHOULD 'MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN
ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF, thus
building a wall of separation between Church and State."
Wraith,I only used Jefferson as an example because you used him. His
definition of the separation of church and state is spot on, regardless of his
personal feelings. Of course the preponderance of the Founding Fathers felt
religion to be an important aspect of public and private society. Their support
of such is too voluminous to mention here in this silly little comments section
of an online newspaper. You are certainly welcome to your opinion on religion,
I'm only inviting you to give proof to said opinion "that allowing any
kind of religion, even something as simple as praying before a public meeting,
as harmful not just to government but to the religion itself." I
don’t think an example of success where government and religion are
mutually exclusive exits, but I am willing to listen. Otherwise, I’ll
just stick with historic, constitutional, and statutory precedent as opposed to
@take2ndbreath and J. RichardsonActually an absolute separation is
exactly what it means. It's exactly what Madison wanted it to mean when he
wrote it. The government should be worried about laws and legal matters and have
nothing to do with any kind of religion at all. The support for that is easily
found in many of the founding fathers writings. However, in the end it
doesn't really matter what they intended or not because their number one
intention was that we solve our own problems in our own times and having an
absolute separation is imperative to the survival of the church as well as the
state. There are AMPLE examples out there. Religion having too much power in a
government gets you states like those we seen now in the Middle East where Islam
is the government. But it can go the other way as well. Look no further than the
Church of England. Still the official church in the U.K. and just how much power
does it have in the country. While I would love to see christianity fade into
meaninglessness I'm guessing you don't
Wraith,Using Islamic states as the example of why government and
religion can't mix (as per the US Constitution, US law and US history) is a
straw man argument of epic proportions. No one here is arguing that Sharia law
or Christian law, for that matter, should supplant what we have in the US. Try
again. Near as I can tell, you are arguing for Communism. And speaking of
extremism, or as you put forth, absolutism, your statement "I would love to
see Christianity fade into meaninglessness" is truly extreme. What would
you have replace the role of religion in our great American society today?
Because voids are always filled with something. Godlessness? Atheism?
Communism? Perhaps you would argue that we should all put our full faith and
trust in the government with no thought to the good that religious thought
brings to the playing field. If your only argument is that because Sharia law
as a governing system is bad, therefore the U.S. Constitution is wrong and
Christianity must therefore go away, well then, Sir, you are quite the curious
outlier. Your position is not tenable, at least not based on the words you are
The Supreme Court put an end to this legal debate last month. USA Today,
May 5, 2014"WASHINGTON: The Supreme Court on Monday narrowly upheld
the centuries-old tradition of offering prayers to open government meetings,
even if the prayers are overwhelmingly Christian and citizens are encouraged to
participate.The 5-4 ruling, supported by the court's conservative
justices and opposed by its liberals, was based in large part on the history of
legislative prayer dating back to the Framers of the Constitution."You
can read the full article online.
What a great opportunity to bring the community together and have communion with
God. A sincere prayer by any person, weather it be to a God we all know and
worship or to one a little less recognizable, still brings the opportunity for
peace and to allow the Holy Ghost to influence the group hearing it. Can an
atheiest pray, sure they can, they can bring their moment of silence, a
philosophical statement, whatever, as long as it is done in a sincere and
respectful way. I agree with fowersjl, pray as you believe, then the next
person can pray to Apollo if desired, but pray in sincereity, then it will all
make its way up to God, our Heavenly Father and will be answered as he saees
As I have said before, those of us in attendance at public meetings, who do not
believe in fairy tales nor deities, will simply ignore the superstitious
murmuring, and speak more loudly to the person across the room about the
business at hand.There can be no law forcing me or anyone else to
participate in nor to show deference for such irrelevancies at a public
Scientist:No one is asking for your participation or deference, only
that you respect the rights and beliefs of others in a public setting. To talk
during a public prayer would show disrespect for your fellow citizens. You have an opinion that prayer is irrelevant at a public gathering.
95% of the public has another opinion. You can have your opinion, but in a
truly "tolerant" society we respect all opinions, even when we
disagree.The liberals left this idea in the dust long ago. That is
why I left the Democratic Party. Self-righteous babble is cheap. Respect for
all people is rare...
@J. RichardsonThere are a lot more of us out here who agree with
Wraiths interpretation of the 1st Amendment than you think. Wraith may not have
stated his argument in the best way but Islamic states as an example of church
and government being too intertwined isn't a straw man. In fact it's
one of the best examples on earth today on the dangers of mixing government and
religion out there. Thankfully I don't think America would ever become such
a nation because of well, the 1st Amendment.Still even something as
small as prayer at a local meeting is considered a violation of the 1st
Amendment by a great many people (and would have been by the man who wrote the
amendment as Wraith pointed out).I also get really tired of the
argument that not allowing religion into government automatically replaces it
with atheism. That is ridiculous. If I go to a gov. meeting and someone says a
prayer it's easy for me to think - wait that's religion in gov. Should
I go and there be no prayer who thinks oh no their making me atheist!?
@RedWingsThere is no way that 95% of the population wants prayers in
public meetings. Only 77% of the U.S. population even claims to be
"religious" in surveys and I'd be willing to bet a third of those
don't want to see prayer in meetings so it't a lot more like half,
maybe less than half.I really fail to see, again, how if you went to
a meeting and there was no prayer you would automatically think that the
government is forcing you to be atheist. More than likely the meeting would
start, business would be completely and everyone would go home without a single
person thinking anything about religion.Government should be
involved with laws and running the country and that's it. Do most of you
realize that if you were able to travel back in time you would be shocked at how
little religion played a role in the origins and running of the government at
it's beginning? Religion poisons everything it touches - these myths and
fairy tales have no business in the running of the country.
@suheinSaying a prayer in a government meeting is a far cry away
from sharia law.It interesting that the same people that are crying
tolerance for others have no tolerance at all."Religion poisons
everything it touches - these myths and fairy tales have no business in the
running of the country."It is a good thing we have multiple
witnesses to back these "myths" up. I don't recall any fairies?
Did none of you read any of the posts? No one has said that saying a prayer is
sharia law. The only thing anyone said was that Muslim nations provide a good
example of what happens when religion and government get too mixed up? Are you
disagreeing with that? Are you saying that isn't a good example? Are you
saying that the religion and government ration in those countries is just fine?
I think most rational people will agree that religion and government
is too mixed together in those countries. That was the only point ever trying to
be made by anyone in using that example. The only one.And you
don't have a single witness to any of those myths. You might think you do
but none of these witnesses stand up under even the most basic scrutiny. Every
religion from the earliest tribal civilization to our current time all said the
same thing. Our myths are the right ones, trust us. I know all those millions of
others are wrong and all make the same claim we do, but trust us. Just trust us.
Most commentators, for and against public prayer, or more generally, public
exercise of religion, interpret Jefferson's remarks in terms of their own
preconceived positions, beliefs, or ideology. One statement he made, as engraved
on his monument in Washington, D.C., is often overlooked in the debate. Quoting:
"...I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form
of tyranny over the mind of man." - Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush,
September 23, 1800.Both sides of the issue can come to the point where
individuals on one side are imposing their own forms of tyranny on the other
side. I cannot read more into Jefferson's mind than may be there, but I
wonder: would he not plead more for the old axiom that 'I may not agree
with what you say (or believe, or practice,) but I will defend to the death your
right to say it (or believe it, or practice it). That seems to call for much
more civility than we are getting from the courts, from religious zealots, or
their non-believing counterparts. What about "I'm okay, You're
okay?" Wouldn't that serve us all better?
@ suheinWhat other specific religions are you talking about?I don't know of any other religions that have multiple accounts of
any type of God coming to earth dieing for the sins of the World and then being
resurrected.I know they have some sort of "myths" as you
would call them but never heard of any of them like I said before having
multiple witnesses."In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall
every word be established" 2 Cor 13:1
"Next time I'm at a public meeting, I'm going to ask to pray.
I'll pray to satan - just because."If you don't
believe in Satan and you pray to him to be offensive to Christians, the
Satanists are going to be offended also. You have essentially said that their
belief is a joke.
What atheists need to understand, is that people have beliefs and opinions that
differ from theirs. Atheists feel threaten by someone praying. Let's turn
the situation around where atheists tell people they aren't allowed to
pray. How is that fair or better than what it was?In my opinion,
people of faith need to be allowed to exercise their faith, even in public
settings. Atheists do not have to participate, but, can be respectful. I am
only a member of one church. Yet, I am willing to have leaders and people of
other faiths begin meetings with prayer. I don't have to participate, but,
can be respectful.I have a hard time, why atheists are allowed to
use terms of "tolerance" "progressive" when the very action of
telling others what to do, is intolerance and digressive.
@Chris B" Don't like it? Tough. Deal with it"Just
remember that sentiment of yours when same-sex marriage becomes legal. @take2ndbreath"force us to worship in only one certain way. "Personally, I would consider praying a form of worship.@RedWings" 95% of the public has another opinion. "Definitely not 95%.
Instead of closing our eyes and bowing our heads and giving any credence to
superstition, we should be raising our heads, opening our eyes, and working
toward solutions!I refuse to be silenced by "prayer" to any