Richard Davis: The Supreme Court errs on legislative prayers

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  • brian of ohio Kent, OH
    May 13, 2014 12:01 p.m.

    I think those who object have missed the point of the Justices decision. It was not that Government MUST start with a prayer, only that is MAY start with a prayer if the people in attendance desire it.

    I think Mr Davis failed to look at it from the perspective of others. He is basically saying others should have looked at it as he does. Since he does not prefer prayer, we should be respectful of him and not pray.

    Greece decided most people wanted to pray, so Mr. Davis should look at it and say, well if most people there feel starting with a prayer is beneficial, then lets start with a prayer so most people are happy. In life everyone will almost never be happy about everything, all we can hope is that most are happy about any one thing. Besides, prayers are a minute long. Is it really that hard to wait?

    And yes, if I went to a place where a group prayed very weirdly, then I would feel uncomfortable, but I also know its rude to say they can't pray that way because I don't like their prayer.

    My own 2 cents.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    May 12, 2014 6:18 a.m.

    I disagree that the court erred. This wasn't about religious establishment at all, but about religious expression, which it correctly ruled is permissible even in a town meeting. Considering religious expression in this country has taken a beating for decades, it's answering a different problem by ruling the way it did, and will hopefully give those who desire to publicly express their religions a little lee-way, so that we CAN express our religious diversity in a healthy and respectful manner.

    By requiring silence instead of religious expression, which is what the author of this objection favors, we will never reach diversity at all.

  • Avenue Vernal, UT
    May 10, 2014 3:54 p.m.

    Why is it that people in the government need to push their government at religious functions?

  • Anti Bush-Obama Chihuahua, 00
    May 9, 2014 2:06 p.m.

    Open Minded Mormon.

    "Americans are fighting and dying to keep Praying OUT of the Government!"

    No they're not. You even said yourself they are there to steal the oil and destablize governments in the middle east. If they were fighting for our freedoms, they would be over here.

  • Anti Bush-Obama Chihuahua, 00
    May 9, 2014 2:00 p.m.

    Openminded Mormon.

    For a supposed LDS member, you never defend the church at all? Why is that? Do you just care what man thinks more? This idea that we are opposed to non Christian prayers in political settings is total asinine. I was at a city council meeting where a Jewish prayer was offered and it didn't bother me at all.

    I know you certainly won't have this mindset about prayer and religion on the other side of the veil, so why have that viewpoint here? it makes no sense.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    May 9, 2014 12:14 p.m.

    spoken like a true Communist

  • Demiurge San Diego, CA
    May 9, 2014 12:08 p.m.

    Why is it that religious people need to push their religion at government functions?

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    May 8, 2014 9:24 p.m.

    I'm puzzled: I pay tithing to have someone express this opinion at BYU?

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    May 8, 2014 1:16 p.m.

    My belief is that off-color jokes are not appropriate in the workplace, and so when I hear them, I put a stop to them. I interrupt them.

    I also believe that religious solicitations are inappropriate in many contexts, and so when they happen, I interrupt them and put a stop to them. Or at very least I ignore them and go about doing the business that is at hand.

    In the same way, I believe that religious prayers are highly inappropriate in government and public meetings. As such, I will interrupt them, ignore them and carry on with the appropriate activities for the venue.

    I invite all like minded persons to do likewise.

    We do not have to remain silent ("be silenced") by religious hegemony, and have our free speech squelched due to religious "ceremony" in the public square.

  • dLange Los Gatos, CA
    May 8, 2014 1:04 p.m.

    Professor Davis is right. These were my exact thoughts when I heard the about the ruling of the Supreme Court. I am amazed that 5 of the justices felt that these prayers to begin a city council meeting were ok.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 8, 2014 12:57 p.m.

    If the Supreme Court had outlawed prayer, which is a form of speech, what would those who are against prayer in public meetings say? Would they think that one class of speech can be censored by government without other classes of speech being impacted? Where would the line be drawn?

    When the government is forbidden to censor speech, all classes of speech, including prayer, must be allowed or no class is safe.

    If the government restricts one class of speech in one public meeting, what restrains it from restricts all classes of speech in public meetings?

    The Supreme Law clearly states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;". Prohibiting means exactly what it says, even in a public meeting.

    The Constitution protects us from government and from abuses by government. It is not a shield to protect us from Deity.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    May 8, 2014 12:41 p.m.

    To all those gentiles offended by prayer I suggest they take advantage of the liberty the SC just confirmed. Don't be offended. Speak up, be strong and offer your views. If you don't, religon oppression not only has a chance to be seeded but germinate in the culture the extreme, religous right wants to suppress on our country. To many patriots have sacrificed to much to make this country what it is (my father included). One should not be afraid of religon and I believe God wants us to stand up to the corruption that is possible by it. Let there be prayer and also let their be freedom of speech to make sure it does not suppress the rights all Americans are granted by our constitution.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    May 8, 2014 12:25 p.m.

    people in this country just want to be left alone to give the prayers that they want. If the majority in a community want to give a Christian prayer then back off - leave them alone - and let them pray. If someone is offended by a Christian prayer - too bad. This is a Christian nation so get over it or move somewhere else. So sick of all the so-called offended people when in reality it is just a very small VOCAL minority.

  • @Charles not from utah, 00
    May 8, 2014 12:14 p.m.

    Furry states, " In other words, either creating a religion or establishing that one religion has preference over another religion or over no religion."

    Again, your interpretation is completely wrong. The 1st Amendment does not state what you infer. Is says nothing of the kind. It states that Congress shall not make a law establishing a religion. Prayer in schools, city council meetings etc does not violate the Constitution.

    If you are offended by God in the public square that is your problem not anyone else's.

    The writer is completely lost and has no basis for his words in the Constitution. Is this guy indicative of what they teach at BYU?

  • Jesso Washington, UT
    May 8, 2014 12:13 p.m.

    Nice thing about being on the SUPREME court is that other people's opinions do not matter. Even other supreme court decision do not matter, it is a snapshot in time. But if you disagree with this courts decision, for now, tough.

  • JD Jones Salt Lake City, UT
    May 8, 2014 12:10 p.m.

    @happy2bhere: I want to stop religious expression in government functions. I have no desire whatsoever to stop religious expression in non-government functions. I'm willing to bet the most Christians in America try to put a stop to Islamic prayers in government functions, but would have no problem with their expressing their religious beliefs in non-government functions. The golden rule is far better than insisting on having bad manners by insisting on prayer among others who might not believe like you do.

  • JD Jones Salt Lake City, UT
    May 8, 2014 11:56 a.m.

    I have a greater appreciation for the founding fathers knowing that they did not begin their meetings with prayer. They were wise.

  • MapleDon Springville, UT
    May 8, 2014 11:52 a.m.

    Mr Davis is just another person who believes Freedom of Religion should be interpreted as Freedom from Religion. And how is this Freedom from Religion working out for this country so far?

  • Michael Matthews Omaha, NE
    May 8, 2014 9:52 a.m.

    @ Ranch,

    Since DN did print it... what does that say about the DN? Maybe other "politically motivated" articles weren't as bad as some might think. Maybe they are actually trying to print both sides of the story. After all they allow your comments and they certainly are more often against DN editorials than with them. Would that MSNBC and Fox were as impartial. Kudos DN!

  • slcdenizen Murray, UT
    May 8, 2014 9:35 a.m.

    The ruling wasn't a win for the religious community and loss for the nonbelievers as some might assume. We all lose when specific legal assurances are granted to religions. The reason we all should be interested in separating church and state is because of the diversionary effects of imposing religion where it is irrelevant i.e. the public sphere. We can now look forward to the most contentious issues at a town hall meeting being who gets to give the next prayer. When piously expressing religiosity is a person's top priority, civility and decency tend to drift into irrelevancy.

  • mightyhunterhaha Kaysville, UT
    May 8, 2014 9:26 a.m.

    Lets look at this from another perspective. Tolerance. Those not wanting prayer are asking those who to to be tolerant of thier belefs. What of my beliefs? Why can't they be tolerant of the majoriites beliefs? I had surgery recently and while in the hospital I had a representaive for a church other than my own come in my room and ask to have a prayer with me. I agreed and while the prayer was not done the smae way to my beleifs it was a noce jesture and I appreciate the service of that person. Those not wanting prayer can adapt the same attitude. It's a nice jesture and no one is asking them to believe in anyone's religion.

  • Big Bubba Herriman, UT
    May 8, 2014 8:20 a.m.

    Well I disagree with the good professor. Christianity is not an established religion, it is a religious belief. Mormonism and Catholicism are established religions. Also, a prayer does not have to be "Christian" just because it was uttered by a Christian. Many prayers to God do not close in the name of Jesus or mention Jesus - such is common when Jews are present at public places where prayers are uttered. The Supreme Court go this one right!

  • BrentBot Salt Lake City, UT
    May 8, 2014 6:39 a.m.

    Samuel Adams, who has been called 'The Father of the American Revolution' wrote The Rights of the Colonists in 1772, which stated: "The rights of the colonists as Christians...may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institution of the Great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament."

  • byufootballrocks Saratoga Springs, UT
    May 8, 2014 5:11 a.m.

    I find it surprising that a professor at BYU, which has such an outstanding history and political science department, could get so mixed up about the basic meaning of the establishment clause.

    Our founders had experienced the tyranny of a state-mandated religion (by religion I mean a particular church) and so the establishment clause was a much needed measure to prevent a repeat of all those abuses.

    Not in a million years was that statement intended to push the exercise of faith expressed publicly (such as prayers) out of the governmental square - that was evident by the common practices of the time in councils, government meetings, etc. One of the first things the founders did after the US government was formed was appoint a chaplain.

    The real subtle (and not so subtle) infringement on our basic rights is the hostility to public expressions of faith, something badly needed today in the troubled times we live in.

  • Linus Bountiful, UT
    May 8, 2014 12:14 a.m.

    Why does every discussion related to religion and government dwell upon "the establishment clause" and completely ignore the "free exercise clause." It is altogether inappropriate for any branch of the government to interfere with the free exercise of religious observance. The editorial seems to suggest that the SCOTUS should have restricted the "free exercise" of religion by outlawing prayer in public meetings. That would be unconstitutional.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    May 7, 2014 11:43 p.m.

    My suspicions of Richard Davis are confirmed. Another progressive liberal who tolerates everything accept God! He does't want to offend anyone for fear of being characterized as a religious person that believes, stands up for, and understands the importance of His Principles for a civil society! As if wiping out any mention of God will make our society more just! The liberals are the most hypocritical, mind numbing group in America. If I were passing laws, I would answer every one of their proposals in the exact same way Richard Davis answered here: Minimum wage increase? No, that is unfair and offensive to the Unions! SSM? No, that is offensive to the Mormons! Welfare payments? No, that is offensive to the workers! Contraception? No, that offends the right to life! Any new government program? No, that is clearly offensive to the tax payer! But, hey, at least we can abort another million babies this year? We certainly wouldn't want to offend those wonderful citizens that that nobly excuse God from their lives but expel the whispers of an unborn child without a second thought! That's the kind of Social Justice everyone can aspire to!

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    May 7, 2014 11:34 p.m.

    The Supreme Court did not error. Its ruling only meant that the constitution doesn't prevent prayer at state and local meetings. .. it doesn't.

  • FreedomFighter41 Provo, UT
    May 7, 2014 10:27 p.m.

    I can't wait until southern Christians freak out when a Jew, Catholic, or Muslim gives a prayer.

    Remember repubs, you built this. Now own it.

  • E Sam Provo, UT
    May 7, 2014 9:35 p.m.

    A fine editorial. I would add this. The real damage being done here is to sincere and genuine religiosity. A meaningless, pro forma, innocuous 'prayer' before a public meeting communicates this message: that prayer should be meaningless and rote, a civic ritual without genuine consequence.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    May 7, 2014 7:17 p.m.

    It's ironic that a political science professor would make an argument so oblivious to the role of the judicial branch of the government.

    Professor Davis argues that the SC got it wrong but all of his arguments are public policy arguments, not legal arguments.

    The closest he comes to a legal argument is saying the decision "subtly reinforces the practice of an established religion" but he rebuts his own assertion by arguing that the decision was wrong because it might force citizens to sit through a wide variety of prayers/religions ceremonies...hardly the establishment of any single religion (or even any religion).

    It was the city council that made the decision to have a prayer. The SC decision doesn't dictate that all public meetings have to begin with prayer but only that the city council's decision didn't violate the law.

    The professor's public policy arguments are a fair critique of the city council's initial decision to have a prayer (which I doubt I'd vote in favor of); those same arguments are woefully inadequate to support an argument that the SC decision (which I think was right on the mark) was wrong.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    May 7, 2014 5:45 p.m.

    @Kent C. DeForrest

    Actually Mike Richards interpreted the first amendment right.

    The modern progressive interpretation, you all use, is wrong, and quite wrong.

    Read the first amendment as it is written:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"

    "respecting" - to respect or favor
    "an establishment of religion", taken as whole as it properly should, is a church or religious organization.

    It is about congress NOT making a law favoring a church or religious organization.

    That is the correct and only interpretation.

    Allowing prayer does none of those things, prohibiting prayer is unconstitutional.

    The amendment is about what congress can not do not what the people can do,.

    If the people want to a prayer pray at a local public meeting they can.

    This professor is quite wrong.

    It is scary and chilling when progressives want to dictate what we the people can do in the public square.


    Again congress can not dictate prayers, or favor a church.

    The only thing this opens is more freedom of the people in religion, speech, assembly, and conscience.

    No good policy can be based on hypothetical situations.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 7, 2014 5:40 p.m.

    I don't think they erred. The door has been opened. Everyone can come in. Everyone.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2014 5:02 p.m.

    Everett, 00

    Having lived outside Utah for most of my life, as have most of my acquaintances, it is quite obvious that your naivety about Utah negates your opinions. Blanket haranguing the citizens of Utah is not in the spirit on the DN comment policy.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 7, 2014 4:55 p.m.


    While I certainly agree that there are pushy people on both sides I just want to make something clear. The vast majority of people who work to keep religion out of government are not anti-religion. In fact many are very active in their religion. They work to keep government and religion separate not because they are out to "stop any religious expression in America" but are out to keep the wall of separation up because they believe that's best for both religion and government. I am actually really tired of the stereotype that anyone who believes in a wall of separation is really out to destroy all religion and the country to boot. In fact the opposite is true, most are really good people who truly believe they are helping to make America a better place. You may not agree with their point of view and that's fine - but stop thinking we are a bunch of degenerate religion hating evildoers out to destroy everything you hold dear. If you talked to them you'd find that most are very tolerant, nice, patriotic people.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 7, 2014 4:46 p.m.

    I'll believe in Mike Richards and some of the other posters' convictions when I see you protest for a Muslim, Jew, or satanist right to pray at a government meeting.

    Until then, it's nothing more than hot air.

  • Mikhail ALPINE, UT
    May 7, 2014 4:46 p.m.

    The court - this time - seems to understand that prayer is not an act to establish a religion. The Founders were dealing with their own experiences wherein the state (government) required one religion to be established as the state religion (think England) when they wrote this into the Constitution. The Founders must have believed that state established religion was akin to tyranny.

    Prayer is not tyranny. I have lived outside of the "bubble" of Utah. When public prayers were offered outside of Utah, they were tolerated by those that did not subscribe to the particular religious affiliation of the speaker of the prayer. Rather, those in attendance are edified by the commonality of expression of hope in a higher power - and the implication that there is a higher authority than those present in the meeting that all must answer to.

    Those that are offended by public expressions of a hope in a higher, more loving and everlasting being, might try to work on the concept of compassion and tolerance.

  • Brio Alpine, UT
    May 7, 2014 4:34 p.m.

    This is a done deal at this point. The Supreme Court has ruled which means there are no more appeals to be made. So why all the continuing bantering back and forth as to whether it is the right decision or not. Regardless of what anyone or everyone says, nothing can or will be changed at this point.
    Let's move on to things yet to be determined where opinions could actually make a difference.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    May 7, 2014 4:16 p.m.

    @lost in DC

    "it" was referring to the request, not the person. I apologize for any confusion that may have caused.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    May 7, 2014 3:25 p.m.

    LDS Liberal

    You seem to be pretty judgemental about people with wealth. Farmington is not exactly a cheap place to live.

    The Wraith

    I wonder if you realize that on the other side of all those "pushy Christians" are the pushy anti religious types who are always trying to find ways to stop any religious expression in America. Not much tolerance coming from them is there. And I suspect most of them are liberals.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    May 7, 2014 3:21 p.m.

    2 Bits:

    Yes, I did not mean "here" to be Utah, but the southern US states, where slavery was legal and slaves were property.

    The example of Sharia Law is one of our government not *prohibiting* the implementation of religious law, and the apparent opportunity for a local majority - say in Deerborn Michigan which has a very large Islamic population) to freely choose to implement Sharia Law, with perhaps even the proviso that it only applies to Muslims in Deerborn.

    How will the Supremes handle a fundamentalist wanting to offer a prayer at a city council meeting by sacrificing a lamb?

    Will the Supremes pick & choose which religions are OK for prayer and what specific prayer ceremonies are acceptable? Doesn't this open the Pandora's Box of government favoring particular religions?

  • my_two_cents_worth university place, WA
    May 7, 2014 3:07 p.m.

    @J Thompson

    "Those who are insecure seem to object to prayer."

    You obviously have no issue with your brand of Christian prayer in the public square, lack lack empathy for those of us who do not share your belief, and, therefore, have no clue as to why we object. Let me help put things in perspective. Have you ever been threatened with harm for refusing to stand for the singing of "God bless America" during a 7th inning stretch at a ball game? Have you ever been told a government promotion was out of the question if you refused to acknowledge the existence of a "God?" Have you ever been directed by a representative of the US Government that on Sunday you can either go to Church or stay behind and clean up everyone else's mess? I have experienced all this and more. There is this notion that those who do not believe in the majority held mythology are deemed less that full citizens and not worthy of participation in affairs of the states. That, J Thompson, is why we object to prayer in the public square.

  • Pendergast Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2014 3:02 p.m.

    to The Wraith

    Its like they say those who bloviate, pontificate, yell, screech, & holler the loudest and longest are trying convince 1 person..... themselves.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 7, 2014 2:46 p.m.

    @ J. Thompson

    Your analysis of why people object to prayer in government meeting quite literally could not have been more wrong. It ventures into the realm of being so unrelated to the topic that it's not even wrong. Like answering purple to a question of what is 2 + 2. While I personally am not that bothered by this ruling I will say that I don't think prayers should be a part of any government function simply because that's how interpret the constitution. I don't need prayer to remind there are people who believe in god, I have all those pushy Christians in America who never stop talking about it. Which leads me to think, based on your definition of Religious people, that there must not be that many in the world. Because religion, if it has shown the world nothing else, has proven to be the most intolerant idea man has ever devised. Why do I say that? Because every single religion knows without a doubt that it's the only right one - and obviously that means all people need to be converted or risk an eternity of punishment. Not really tolerance for people with different ideas.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    May 7, 2014 2:39 p.m.

    Of course the BYU professor would disagree with the official LDS church statement praising the decision.

    And he knows more than the SCOTUS, he is after all, a liberal poli-sci teacher and a higher up in the local dem party.

    were (sic) Mormons are viewed equal to Satan worshippers – like in some east King County churches?

    “I would be willing to bet that if a muslim asked to give the prayer in the town of Athens, it would be denied.” Why do you refer to a Muslim as “it”?

    LDS lib,
    This Supreme Court has --
    Selected GW Bush as President by hanging chads

    Nice revisionist history. The dems were trying to elect gore by hanging chads.

    While haranguing the SCOTUS for their decisions, why did you not list their poor decision on Obamacare?

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    May 7, 2014 2:20 p.m.

    Those who are insecure seem to object to prayer. They want to be the most important, most educated, most intelligent object in the universe. Praying reminds them that there might, just might, be someone much more intelligent than they. That worries them. If their voice (of absolute authority) is questioned, their grip on us weakens and their ability to control us is in jeopardy.

    Kind people allow others to express themselves, even in the form of a prayer. Religious people, if they really believe in the God who is behind the scenes of their religion, have charity for all and tolerance for anyone who has different ideas.

    On the other hand, religious bigots are afraid that allowing anyone to pray might cause people to think too much about religion and that if they start thinking, they might decide to study other religions.

    God is our Father. He loves all of us. He askes us to ask Him for help. I don't think that he's overly concerned how that plea for guidance is articulated. He will lead us to truth - if we ask.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    May 7, 2014 2:11 p.m.


    Thanks for your evaluation of conservatives and liberals. It may be the best I've ever read.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 7, 2014 2:04 p.m.

    Let's see...

    This Supreme Court has --

    Selected GW Bush as President by hanging chads,
    Granted Constitutional "rights" to Corporate entities,
    Legalized unlimited Bribery into our Democratic election process,
    Allows the practice of Religous Prayer in our Official Government Meetings.

    amazing....simply, amazing...

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 7, 2014 1:19 p.m.

    Well in that case procuradorfiscal I have a list of over 10,000 different gods. We really ought to start praying to all of them, asking each one for wisdom you know just on the off chance that they are up there listening and desiring to bless their creations.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 7, 2014 12:46 p.m.

    Re: "Nicely done sir, nicely done."

    Why, thank you. It's nice to be appreciated.

    But, to your question -- "Why is it so imperative . . . to have a prayer before a zoning committee meeting?"

    The honest, sincere political servant and leader, at all levels, seeks to do the right thing. Invoking God's help, seeking a portion of His wisdom in making the right decision, on issues ranging from zoning, to those with geopolitical import, is a wise tradition. Even for atheists. Just on the off chance -- as we assert -- He is there, is listening, and desires to bless His children by answering their unfeigned petitions.

    I freely admit that the sincere political servant and leader is a rare fixture on today's American political landscape, but even if the senatorial opening prayer is nothing to most listeners but a quixotic reminder of things lost, it can't hurt to be reminded. Maybe a heart will be softened. Maybe the odd lunatic liberal political buy-off can be avoided.

    Or maybe, just maybe, the occasional politician will seek to do the right thing. And be inspired by God to do so.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    May 7, 2014 12:29 p.m.

    Two comments:

    First, I was wondering how Mike Richards would misinterpret words in the Constitution to oppose Prof. Davis's well-reasoned opinion. Now I know.

    Second, I find it fascinating that the conservatives who tend to be up in arms about too much government in their lives are just fine with having the government favor one religion over another. As long as it's their Christian religion, it's okay, but if a city government were to promote some other faith, well, that would be meddling.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 7, 2014 12:12 p.m.


    The only thing missing will be the repeated prayer of American exceptionalism.

    We're #1,
    Thnking God for making us better than everybody else,
    Opening mock others who aren't as blessed as we are,
    And then go home to our materialist, me, myself, and I houses, cars, and good forutune -- ignoring -- even trampling -- the poor, sick and the needy all around us.

  • verum peto Cedar Hills, UT
    May 7, 2014 11:13 a.m.

    Coming from a country that derives its "unalienable rights" from God. I find it very appropriate that we allow prayers, no matter what denomination, happen before our government meetings.

  • my_two_cents_worth university place, WA
    May 7, 2014 11:10 a.m.

    The sad part is this decision has not only NOT resolved anything, it will embolden the "Murica are a Christian country" buffoons to push their brand of bible thumping in the town square at the exclusion of everyone else. My money says we'll see an increase in Church-State cases in the courts, not fewer.

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    May 7, 2014 11:03 a.m.

    This is how I would summarize the comments to this article: Conservatives: I know I like prayer. I therefore am ok with prayer at public meetings and I have no idea why anyone would think differently from me. Liberals: I may or may not believe in prayer, but I can understand why someone who thinks differently from me might have a different reaction than I do. Most conservative vs. liberal discussions end up this way. Conservative: I don't need health insurance, so why would I care if anyone else has it. Liberal: I am concerned that there are people in our society that don't have access to health care. Conservative: I hate giving any of my money away, so I will fight paying taxes with every ounce of my breath. Liberal: It takes money to have a civilized society, so I am ok with paying my taxes. The conservative view is, almost without exception, the most self centered. And, of course, the first to loudly proclaim its Christianity.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    May 7, 2014 11:03 a.m.

    @Open Minded Mormon, "Meanwhile -- on the other side of the world,
    Americans are fighting and dying to keep Praying out of the Government!" But you have told us over and over it was about oil. The liberal stick is it has been about oil.

    I can't think of one case where the US has said you can't pray in your Islamic governments . On the contrary our current administration goes out of his way to defend Islamic governments repression of other faiths.

  • my_two_cents_worth university place, WA
    May 7, 2014 11:02 a.m.

    @Mike Richards

    "There is no "establishment clause" in the Constitution."

    Yeah, there is.

    "An establishment" is a preexisting religion."

    No, it isn't.

    "Holding prayer is both free speech and the free exercise of our religious rights."

    So, you'll be okay with the following invocation at the next South Jordon City Council Meeting, then?

    ONE in spirit,
    We invoke thee!
    Hail, Amit-abha of the world!
    O would that our merciful teacher, Sakya-muni,
    And our great Father Amit-abha Would now descend and be present with us.
    Would that the perfect compassion-ate heart would now draw near And receive our offerings.
    May the omnipotent and omniscient Holy Spirit
    Come to us while we recite these divine sentences.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 7, 2014 10:55 a.m.

    Wow procuradorfiscal that is some major league stereotyping , not even AAA stuff but some real impressive professional game. You managed to lump all atheists, liberals, and academics, into a single group of single minded idiots out to ruin you day, rain on your parade, and destroy your country. Then as a nice little pièce de résistance you managed to throw in the idea that all Wiccans are not only disingenuous but also made it obvious that in your mind Wiccan isn't even worthy of being a religion at all. Nicely done sir, nicely done.

    I would like to point out though that as an atheist, liberal academic I don't really care about your prayers. This ruling doesn't bother me at all really - I'll just do what I always do when someone prays; be very respectful while making fun of the prayer in my head. This is actually how most atheists feel - but hey if the stereotyping helps you feel better keep at it.

    There is one thing I don't get though. Why is it so imperative to some people to have a prayer before a zoning committee meeting?

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    May 7, 2014 10:23 a.m.

    Meanwhile -- on the other side of the world,
    Americans are fighting and dying to keep Praying OUT of the Government!

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    May 7, 2014 10:15 a.m.

    I disagree with Mr. Davis. Governments don't have to have prayers before meetings. It is not a requirement. Those that choose to are not establishing any religion or any religious preference. If they ask someone to give a prayer, then fine. I've been in the Senate and heard the Senate chaplain give his obviously Christian prayer. This happens every day at the opening on Senate business. Sometimes others are invited to give the prayer. No one has really crabbed about that and it is the same thing as what happens on the local level. Give it a rest. Those that want to play the victim will always do so. My advise? Ignore them.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    May 7, 2014 10:13 a.m.

    Making up ideas that don't exist to perpetuate a concept that is not reality. "I would be willing to bet that if a Muslim asked to give the prayer in the town of Athens, it would be denied."

    The real facts are they did seek other faiths to participate. When the two who brought the suite were asked to identify any other faiths in the community that they could ask to participate they could not identify one.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 7, 2014 9:57 a.m.

    Re: ". . . perhaps it is possible to honor God and the Constitution at the same time."

    Of course it is. But we'll have to just stop listening to iconoclastic, thumb-in-the-eye atheists, as well as liberal politicians and academics in the professional victimization industry, to make it happen.

    The Constitution protects us from an overreaching, unaccountable government establishing a state religion, as in England, Sweden, or Iran. It also protects us from the establishment of a Christian-hating secular church, along the lines of the one liberals and atheists constantly insist we must establish, in order to please them.

    The Constitution does not require us to tiptoe around atheists and academics, for fear that something so integrated into our lives and society might give offense to someone desperately seeking it.

    While academics bloviate over the issue and atheists and disingenuous "Wiccans" sit and spin, real people will continue to tolerate and respect the sincere religious beliefs of others, trying our best to get along, in spite of academic and political advice to feel grossly victimized and lash out.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    May 7, 2014 9:39 a.m.

    I will believe this is a religious liberty issue, and not a "We are the Christian Majority issue" when SmallTown, USA allows a muslim to open a meeting with a prayer.

    I would be willing to bet that if a muslim asked to give the prayer in the town of Athens, it would be denied.

    This is a case of people wanting to wear their religion on their sleeves and not in their hearts. Something they can do in public to make them feel good about themselves.

    Remember the uproar a few years ago when a prayer was offered on the 4th of July celebration in Spanish? That was just a few years ago and in our very own State.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    May 7, 2014 9:05 a.m.

    Richard Davis is absolutely right, and the five-justice majority was absolutely wrong.

    When a government entity places prayer on the official agenda, that is an establishment of religion. When a person is invited to present the "opening exercise" and chooses to pray, that is simply free speech and is not an establishment of religion.

    As a Christian of the LDS persuasion, I have long been disappointed that in these debates over public prayer, crosses on public property, Ten Commandments monuments, Sunday closings, etc., the primary instigators of divisiveness seem to be those who call themselves Christians.

    By the way, in terms of the Constitution being "divinely inspired," I believe the most inspired part of the Constitution may be the provision to amend it, which allows us to correct the parts that were not divinely inspired.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 7, 2014 9:06 a.m.

    Why would anyone object if a prayer is offered, and it reflects some beliefs of the community's predominate religion, or conservative politics???

    All you need is a little tolerance... and you will get through it with no damage.


    Not all my family is LDS. When we go to their house for dinner... I don't get offended because their prayer on the food may be different than I may give! That's just absurd! WHY would it offend me?


    Just because someone attends and decides to object to the fact that the local culture is reflected in the prayer... should that one person who decides to be offended be able to restrict the majority in the room from being able to pray?

    I don't think so.

    They should just take this moment to have their own prayer in their heart... and move on...

    That would be the "Tollerant" thing to do.

    Not insist that because one person decides to be offended NOBODY can pray....


    I am never offended when someone of another faith offers a prayer (and it happens frequently)... why the Left is so offended... I'll NEVER understand.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 7, 2014 8:37 a.m.

    Why are people afraid to ask God for help? My understanding of God, as a child, is much different than my understanding of God as an adult. Should I have waited until I was twenty to pray. How about waiting until I was sixty? At what point would my prayer not offend someone who didn't believe in God?

    We are the UNITED States. How do we become UNITED? When politicians try to divide us by teaching envy and strife and greed, how can the people offset that disharmony? I think that praying before meetings invites into that meeting a spirit or sense of harmony. When we ask Him who lives in complete harmony with all things, seen and unseen, to assist us, He will help. But, He, who gave us agency, will not enter unless invited, leaving us in our UN-UNITED state for as long as we wish, even if it destroys us.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 7, 2014 8:28 a.m.

    Yesterday on this same topic you said, "Slavery itself was sanctioned by religion here (meaning Utah)"...

    I hope that was a mis-speak.

    From Joseph Smith (the beginning) till today... the church has NEVER endorsed SLAVERY.

    For a time some didn't receive the priesthood... but that's not "Slavery". No LDS Prophet I know of has endorsed SLAVERY...


    RE: "In Kansas they outlawed Sharia law, but Christian prayer is OK"...

    There's a difference between wanting Sharia Law... and wanting to be free to pray if you want.

    One is imposing your laws governing all areas of life on all people. The other is ALLOWING people the Constitutionally protected freedom to pray if they want!

    The government doesn't give us the right to pray... They can only take it away.

    Why are you so intent on taking it away??


    Has a prayer in a meeting started a single war? No... That's just pretense.

    Intolerance HAS caused wars... but prohibiting prayer in meetings doesn't end that! You would have to outlaw religion altogether.

    Do you intend to do THAT eventually?

    Because that is what it would take (not just outlawing prayer in public meetings).

  • east of utah Saint Joseph, MO
    May 7, 2014 8:26 a.m.

    Nothing requires anybody to participate in the prayer. The ruling only allows it to happen. As a surgeon I have often been invited to participate in family prayers before I operate on a family member. The prayers/devotionals that were close to my own form of worship were comfortable, those that were not close were less so (and there have been some very unique ones). Nevertheless, I have been respectful of their beliefs and have participated in them. And we have all been the better for it.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 7, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    I don't think the Supreme Court decision established a State Religion... it just didn't PROHIBIT prayer.


    A moment of silence would be fine with me. It's about the same thing. A prayer to open the meeting is not intended to offend anybody. It is intended to give people a moment to reflect and get in the right frame of mind.

    Whether a moment of silence, or someone actually offers a prayer... it's all the same to me. Because I always offer a little prayer in my own heart in these situations. So it doesn't offend me at all if the person praying isn't of my faith (or my party).

    But the Government should absolutely NOT be in the business of PREVENTING PRAYER... anywhere... any time.... Any faith...


    Everyone on the LEFT seems to assume that prayers are used to offend... where does that mind-set come from?

    Is that what THEY would use an opportunity to pray for??


    Prayer is not intended to offend anybody.

    Maybe there are a few people who would abuse it. But do you take away EVERYBODY's right... because it may be abused .0001% of the time???

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    May 7, 2014 7:55 a.m.



  • Stormwalker Cleveland , OH
    May 7, 2014 7:50 a.m.

    @happy2bhere: "A prayer is only about 30 seconds and anyone can tolerate that if they are ADULT human beings who are NOT LOOKING to be OFFENDED."

    So I am assuming you would have to problem with a Muslim or a witch offering a prayer in a public meeting? You would defend both, and tell the adults in the room to deal with it?

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    May 7, 2014 7:37 a.m.

    Mr. Davis in the first paragraph makes it seem as if a "religious ritual" is like making people sit through a 2 hour Temple session. A prayer is only about 30 seconds and anyone can tolerate that if they are ADULT human beings who are NOT LOOKING to be OFFENDED. If all of our public activities are supposed to be Offense free, then we would need to take away the U.S. Flag, because a lot of people in the world see that as offensive too. There are times when the FEELINGS of the minority should just be ignored, because there is and always will be some person who wants to take offense at anything done in the public interest. No holidays, no National Anthem, no Pledge of Allegiance, no flags, no team mascots, no nothing that might offend someone. Where do we draw the line? I say way back at expecting people to be tolerant and adult and not acting offended at every little trifle they don't agree with. What's wrong with that?

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    May 7, 2014 7:33 a.m.

    @Mike Richards 1:24 a.m. May 7, 2014

    Once again you show that you don't really understand the Constitution. The term "an establishment" also means "an act of establishing". In other words, either creating a religion or establishing that one religion has preference over another religion or over no religion. The government is not allowed to do either.

    You're right that government cannot dictate religions doctrine; however, it can dictate what religions practices are legal (example -- the ban on the underage plural marriage promoted by Warren Jeffs and his group). Government in the United States is, as it should be, secular in nature. Trying to impose religion on it is not right, and should not be allowed.

  • BU52 Provo, ut
    May 7, 2014 7:25 a.m.

    It may surprise you that some people have actual real and heart felt belief in a higher power and feel that acknowledging his/her existence and help might actually help in the governing process. Since your worldview is apparently so superior to those people maybe a little tolerance should be exercised.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    May 7, 2014 7:24 a.m.


    Those reading this newspaper, and living in Utah, and probably have never lived anywhere else, and mostly likely are LDS will see this and cheer it as a "good" thing.


    Having lived Outside of this imanginary bubble world,
    This is a bad thing.

    I've lived in the Bible belt - were "Mormons" are viewed as equal to Satan worshippers.

    I've lived in areas that the majority was Spiritual, but not religous - were Mormons are viewed as intolerant puritians.

    I've lived in Utah - were most NON-Mormons are constantly on guard and on the defense 24/7.

    I've also served in the Military, which is the best reflected cross section of America.
    Sometimes we banded together as brothers in arms in prayer - like a football huddle.

    Baptists, Mormons, Jews, Quackers, Muslims, and Buddahists.

    We talked of God, our common Father in Heaven - but were instructed to be very careful to never use the terms - Jesus, YHWH or JHVH, Allah, or Ganesha, Shiva, Krishna or Rama.

    Like the Founding Fathers used the generic term - "Creator".

    But some are pushing an agenda -- THAT I oppose.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    May 7, 2014 6:45 a.m.

    I can't believe the DN printed this piece, but I'm glad they did.

    Mr. Davis got it right.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 7, 2014 1:24 a.m.

    There is no "establishment clause" in the Constitution. "Congress shall make no law pertaining to an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" The 1st Amendment did not say "the establishment". It said "an establishment". Those two words make all the difference in the world. "An establishment" is a preexisting religion. It has already been established. It exists. Government cannot dictate religios doctrine.

    Holding prayer is both free speech and the free exercise of our religious rights. If we have become so intolerant of thought that hearing someone pray offends us, then we have become religious bigots.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2014 12:26 a.m.

    And then there is the matter of what's in the prayer. In conservative Utah the content of prayers is going to reflect LDS political conservatism. What if someone in attendance objects? If they express their objections they will be shunned. If they don't express their reservations they will have been cowed.