Supreme Court ruling favors prayer at council meeting

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  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2014 10:13 p.m.

    Haha. What, a great idea, Scientist. Really, should I be required to remain silent, or leave the area, when others are practicing their religion in a public space? Of course not. Perhaps I will make a phone call the next time this happens to me, or carry on a conversation with the person next to me. It's brilliant a brilliant idea, Scientist. And if anyone asks me to be silent, I'll say that I'll be silent when we get back to the business at hand, the business of the meeting. After all, they are doing their religious thing in a public place, that I have just as much right to be at, and they are taking time out to do their thing, so I might as we'll take the time to do my thing.

    I absolutely love your idea. Nothing overtly disruptive. Just a phone call, or a chat with a neighbor, maybe noisily thumb through the pages of a newspaper. Again, nothing overt.

    What are they gonna do? Arrest you? I would love to see that. Arrested for taking during prayer. Hahaha.

    This is an idea that needs to go viral.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    May 6, 2014 7:03 p.m.

    As an atheist, I will not participate in the superstitious "ceremony" called prayer. Instead, I will loudly and conspicuously carry out alternatives during these prayers in public meetings.

    The Supreme Court narrowly missed on this decision. It may still be legal for Christians to force their prayers into the public sphere "to be seen of men", but there is no law saying we have to be quiet during the religious charade.

    I invite all who agree to make loud public noise during such prayers, as an expression of free speech. Do not let religious hegemony silence us!

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 6, 2014 12:13 p.m.


    Uh... okay. I'm not really sure how that is a response to anything I've said but... thanks I guess?

  • donn layton, UT
    May 6, 2014 10:36 a.m.

    RE: The Wraith.“The wrath=(anger,orge)of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:18-20.

    The Cosmological argument,General revelation.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 6, 2014 8:14 a.m.

    @ Pops

    PLEASE! Atheism is not a religion. To illustrate this I will provide some quotes.

    Atheism is a religion in the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby, not kicking a kitten is animal abuse, off is a TV channel, bald is a hair color. See it's impossible for atheism to be a religion because a religion by it's very definition is the worship of a higher being. Since atheists don't believe in a higher being that sort of negates the whole "religion" thing.

    Also ISM at the end of the word does not constitute religion. Ism is a suffix that forms abstract nouns of action, state, condition, or doctrine. So Atheism can become a state policy but not a religion. I know people think they are being clever when they say atheism is a religion hahahaha. When in actuality all it shows is that the person doesn't understand the English language.

    May 6, 2014 6:31 a.m.


    I think you missed the point of how and why prayers are appropriate in the public arena. Using public "prayer" as a means to mock the beliefs of the citizenry would not be in keeping with any of the hows or whys.

  • Rikitikitavi Cardston, Alberta
    May 6, 2014 12:29 a.m.

    I feel very honored to state that in my two terms as Mayor, continuing a decades-old tradition, every council meeting began with prayer. I hope I never see the day when this right is denied due to political correctness. Furthermore, I would not be offended if any individual not of the Christian faith chose to remain outside the chamber until after the prayer. For the record, if someone of a non-Christian faith desired to offer the prayer to Allah or another supreme being according to their belief, I certainly respect that desire and would not absent myself.

  • Bebyebe UUU, UT
    May 5, 2014 8:04 p.m.

    Utes Fan:
    You can pray any time you want. That is free speech. End of discussion.

    If a public meeting prays to one god, it must pray to all (may you be blessed by his noodley appendage). Civic leaders mandating a specific religion's pray is tacit promotion of that religion. It's wrong

    May 5, 2014 7:13 p.m.

    I applaud the decision, although I'm bothered that 4 of the justices dissented. The act of banning prayer at public meetings would be a double violation of the constitution: it would prevent the free exercise of religion, and it would institute atheism as the state religion. And yes, atheism is a religion. See that "ism" on the end?

    Those atheists who wish to be included have the same option as everyone else, which is to apply to be the one offering the prayer, or, in their case, not offering a prayer. I have no problem with that. Citizens of different faiths, including atheism, should be selected in the same proportion as those faiths exist in the represented body of citizens. People pretending to be Satanists or worshippers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster for the sole purpose of mocking religion and religious believers need not apply.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    May 5, 2014 6:28 p.m.

    @ Jeanie

    Google "studies on the efficacy of prayer."

    I used to pray when I was a believer and I almost always got answers. I don't believe now, but I still pray, so to speak. I don't call it prayer because I associate that with a belief in gods, and I don't believe in gods, so...

    But I still go to that same place in my mind and I still get answers. It's just that now I understand they're coming from me. They always were.

  • Ralph Salt Lake City, UT
    May 5, 2014 6:06 p.m.

    Praise the Lord!
    The government shouldn't interfere with my right to pray at government meetings!
    Praying in public will only bring more people to the Lord.
    When people hear my prayer to the Lord, they will accept him as their Saviour.
    That's what it says in the Bible: Pray loudly so people can hear you, and know that you are blessed by Him.

  • MoNoMo Fair Oaks, CA
    May 5, 2014 5:53 p.m.

    Okay - so when a follower of the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" demands saying a "prayer" in the Utah Legislature (?) We're all good with that, right?

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 5, 2014 5:21 p.m.

    Re: "God won't answer prayers if you don't do it correctly? What kind of a God is that?"

    The very best kind.

    I doubt that God is fooled by callow or disingenuous partisans, who disparage prayer, or even pray "to be seen of men," so they can brag about how their prayers are never answered, despite all evidence to the contrary.

    Nor are we.

    That He lovingly blesses their lives, along with those of billions of real, honest people throughout the world, in trillions of oft-unacknowledged, but very real ways -- even when we don't deserve it, or when some of His children inexplicably dedicate the lives He created for them to sowing hate and disrespect for Him -- simply goes without saying.

    But, it does need challenging, when someone attempts to misrepresent His love for us, or to suggest to others that He's not there or doesn't care.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 5, 2014 5:19 p.m.

    Christianity is the foundation of this country.

    Without the foundation, people can't decipher between good and bad.

    Our nation will crumble.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    May 5, 2014 3:53 p.m.


    Tooele, UT

    Re: "I measure it with how many prayers have been answered. In my 50+ years the number is still 0."

    Sounds like you're not doing it correctly. Or at all.


    God won't answer prayers if you don't do it correctly? What kind of a God is that?

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 5, 2014 2:50 p.m.

    Re: "I measure it with how many prayers have been answered. In my 50+ years the number is still 0."

    Sounds like you're not doing it correctly. Or at all.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 5, 2014 2:16 p.m.

    When a non-believer is among the people when such a prayer is being given, is that person expected to cease personal activity and observe the proper decorum? And if that is so, is that person being required to participate in the prayer ceremony?

    If the person participates in the prayer ceremony of a different religion could it be an infringement on his personal religion?

  • Ranch Here, UT
    May 5, 2014 2:11 p.m.


    I guess the Christians and others who object to prayers to Satan can just step out of the room during the prayer.


    I measure it with how many prayers have been answered. In my 50+ years the number is still 0.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    May 5, 2014 1:13 p.m.

    Karen R. ,

    How do you measure the failure rate of prayer?

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    May 5, 2014 1:08 p.m.

    @ mhenshaw, a couple of comments. There is an odd differentiation with the prayers at the Senate/House. Second, this decision will essentially require a monitoring of the content of the prayers offered. Talk about a loss of religious freedom! On the surface, religious folks may like this decision, but if they think it through, this could be an utter disaster and an erosion of religious freedom.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    May 5, 2014 12:52 p.m.

    It sounds like Justice Kennedy just couldn't bring himself to let this one go. "Well, it has always been this way, and it's really kind of meaningless anyway...But it's kind of nice, you know, so let's keep it this way."

    Not exactly a voice of conviction. But given the failure rate of prayer, he was probably right to call it "ceremonial."

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    May 5, 2014 12:40 p.m.

    >>Religious freedom? Just for Christians, it seems.

    Why? There's no reason the same judicial reasoning couldn't apply to prayers or other religious utterances offered by adherents of other faiths. For example, the US Senate invites religious leaders from many faiths to come in and open Senate sessions with prayers, not just Christians.

  • Duckhunter Highland , UT
    May 5, 2014 12:25 p.m.

    @mr glass

    Satanists huh? So you see no difference in asking for insight and wisdom from the embodiment of all that is good (God) and asking for whatever it is one would ask for from the embodiment of evil and lies (satan)?

    You know this isn't about being "fair" to every school of thought, nor should it be. Being "fair" is just another reason to whine by those that don't like something. The fact is having a prayer of that sort is quite harmless, whether it actually does any good or not is up for debate I suppose but no one is harmed by the offering, no one.

    If as the atheists believe there is no God then it means nothing and the atheist is no worse for it being given and only mildly inconvenienced if at all. As for other religious persuasions, well why would any be offended by a prayer, I doubt any are. It is only the secularists that are offended by it and they simply shoose to be offended as nothing about a prayer is truly offensive is it? Such silly people the professional offense takers are.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 5, 2014 11:55 a.m.

    Hopefully now we can get same sex marriage legal.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    May 5, 2014 11:25 a.m.

    Religious freedom? Just for Christians, it seems.

    I'm a religious guy. But frankly, I am tired of religion being used for political purposes. I would vote for no more prayers in government functions.

  • DEC Saratoga Springs, UT
    May 5, 2014 11:22 a.m.

    The debate over prayer as part of public activities, pledges or on money might be solved if we defined God for LEGAL PURPOSES as "the force that caused the universe to exist". Even agnostics have to admit the universe came to be -- albeit random organization. While the details of who or what our personal God is may differ, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other groups agree the universe was created by a higher power. If we defined the word "God" as that force, the arguments over different beliefs would go away. I can trust in my God, you can trust in yours. The point is to pledge or seek a force greater than ourselves to give prospective and weight to things of importance.

    Removing the notion of a higher power from public discourse so people won't be offended by your interpretation of God is the ultimate in bigotry.

  • Yorkshire City, Ut
    May 5, 2014 11:11 a.m.

    Re: "Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the prayers are ceremonial and in keeping with the nation's traditions."

    Now if we could only get Kennedy (and other judges) to keep 'marriag'e as that between a man and a woman-- because to do so is just as "ceremonial" as prayer is.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    May 5, 2014 11:08 a.m.

    The Court had the difficult task of balancing Constitutional Rights. On a topic like this there is no perfect way to do that, but I think it was a reasonable ruling.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 5, 2014 11:05 a.m.

    Prayer is free speech. Free speech is a Constitution right.

    End of discussion.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    May 5, 2014 11:00 a.m.

    Judge Roy Moore must be so proud. If you don't know who he is, Google him.

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    May 5, 2014 10:44 a.m.

    This is not a win for religious freedom but rather a win for Christian oppression. As a Christian myself, I am free to pray at any point during the day - there has never been a limitation on my own individual ability to pray. Further, if a prayer must occur, the act should not take place in a government building with the justification that "those who don't like it can leave." Rather, if you want to have a prayer then you should leave the building, have our prayer outside among those who willingly want to participate, and then you can return to the building once finished. The onus should not be on the ones who do not participate to leave, that should be on the individuals who want to pray.

    Finally, to distill this 5-4 decision down it appears that the majority's justification is "tradition" which is historically the weakest justification used for nearly all oppressive acts in our Nation: Slavery? Tradition. Oppression of women? Tradition. Denial of marriage equality? Tradition. Etc... etc.... Time and time again, "tradition" is proven to be code for bigotry and oppression. This ruling will hopefully be overturned in the near future.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    May 5, 2014 10:37 a.m.

    >>Differences? or Hair splitting? No then...Yes now?

    Maybe his view on the subject "evolved."

    >>...let's make sure we have humanist atheist chaplains offer invocations, and let's make sure Satanists offer a few invocations. Let's remind Christians why we need a wall of separation between church and state.

    First, if there's an atheist humanist chaplain or a Satanist on the council, sure, why not? Such a person on the council would show that there are enough people in the community comfortable with those beliefs--assuming the councilperson fairly represented him/herself during the election--to justify that viewpoint having such expression in the meetings. And if they didn't fairly represent themselves during the election, offering such a prayer would be an eye-opening experience for their constituents.

    I'm not sure to whom an atheist humanist chaplain would pray, but the event would be enlightening.

    Second, abolishing all mention of God and religion from government isn't a "wall of separation" between church and state; it's de facto atheism enforced upon all participants in government.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    May 5, 2014 10:19 a.m.

    During the Millenium, our Savior will be crowned King of Kings of all the earth. I wonder if He will find it necessary to establish a wall between church and state? During that glorious reign, when we file a petition to our King, won't that be considered a prayer?

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    May 5, 2014 10:11 a.m.

    Score one for religious freedom! We need more of this.

  • Jeremy234 SLC, UT
    May 5, 2014 10:06 a.m.

    Wow, lame. Really, really lame.

  • Mr.Glass Salt Lake City, UT
    May 5, 2014 9:45 a.m.

    So much for the separation of church and state.

    But since this is what Christians wanted, let's make sure we have humanist atheist chaplains offer invocations, and let's make sure Satanists offer a few invocations. Let's remind Christians why we need a wall of separation between church and state.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    May 5, 2014 9:42 a.m.

    Another 5 to 4 decision...

    But in 1992...

    "...Kennedy himself was the author an opinion in 1992 that held that a Christian prayer delivered at a high school graduation did violate the Constitution. The justice said Monday there are differences between the two situations, including the age of the audience and the fact that attendees at the council meeting may step out of the room if they do not like the prayer...".



    Hair splitting?

    No then...Yes now?

    Activist Judge?

    Depends on whose ox is being gored?


  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 5, 2014 9:30 a.m.

    Re: "Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the prayers are ceremonial and in keeping with the nation's traditions."

    Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in awhile.

    And, Kennedy's opinion illustrates his visual acuity is still severely impaired by its repeated assertion that public prayers are inoffensive because they're "ceremonial." Many are, no doubt, but to make that a pillar upon which his opinion rests will likely encourage secularists to argue the Supreme Court has set up some new "ceremoniality" requirement. That would gut both the Establishment and the Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment.

    Iconoclastic atheists will soon be listening closely to public prayers, examining them for any actual, heartfelt content. Then, they'll sue both the city and the cleric for any language violative of the new "ceremoniality" requirement they've now discovered in the penumbra of the First Amendment.

    It's a common, well-worn liberal trick.

    The tradition the Court should be protecting is reverent deference to, and non-intervention in religious belief and observance, notwithstanding some thin-skinned, litigious liberal or atheist may brand such public decency noxious.

  • Mikhail ALPINE, UT
    May 5, 2014 9:23 a.m.

    Justice Kennedy appears to be of two minds. He states that government should not be involved in evaluating the content of prayer because it could lead to legislatures requiring "chaplains to redact the religious content from their message in order to make it acceptable for the public sphere." In 1992 he rules that prayers at a high school commencement are unconstitutional because of the age of the participants. In other words, it is okay to have prayers in public meetings, but not at another kind of public meeting, and the government must determine what is in violation of the establishment clause. This should have been a 9-0 ruling, just as the 1992 case should have been. Public prayer in public places is not a violation of the establishment clause - although it could be considered a violation of the legally fictitious dogma of "separation of church and state."

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 5, 2014 9:24 a.m.

    The Court got it right.

    I just wish the Court hadn't taken prayer out of schools. We can easily see what has happened to schools since that time.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    May 5, 2014 9:21 a.m.

    Good ruling, though in public meetings efforts should be made to be inclusive, to pick people to pray from a variety of faiths.

    In education especially we have lost a lot of wisdom. Cirriculum has been dumbed down in my lifetime. I've noticed this in math. I have benefited from prayer. I believe if those who make public policy will pray for wisdom, they will receive it, and our seemingly endless efforts to improve education can finally bear fruit.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    May 5, 2014 9:11 a.m.

    About time. It appears that the oft maligned and mis-interpreted "Establishment Clause" is finally being interpreted with a little common sense. Too bad they won't take the case on the Highway Patrol crosses. We still have a long way to go.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    May 5, 2014 9:06 a.m.

    >>"The justice said Monday there are differences between the two situations, including ...the fact that attendees at the council meeting may step out of the room if they do not like the prayer."

    I.e. "If you don't like it, walk out of the room for sixty seconds. Just because you don't like what people are saying doesn't mean you can stop them from saying it." That's possibly the most commonsense thing I've seen come out of the courts in a long time.

  • Eliot Genola, UT
    May 5, 2014 8:57 a.m.

    Three cheers for the Supreme Court!