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Switch to Forum Live View Sectarian Prayer Disallowed At City Council Meetings
6 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2009 - 11:31PM #1
TPaine
Posts: 9,488
It appears that the Christian Theocrats have lost another round. The City Council of Fredericksburg, VA has a policy that prayers before meetings be non-sectarian. In enforcing this policy, the council refused to allow Councilman Hashmel Turner, a minister, to pray in the name of Jesus. Turner claimed that his religious freedom rights were violated. The case went to court and after losing in District Court, Turner appealed to the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. In a unanimous decision written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who was sitting on the court by special designation, the court said that legislative prayer is government speech, and that Rev. Turner's rights were not violated. http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/061944.P.pdf

SCOTUS has refused cert.
"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case." Thomas Paine:
Dissertation on First Principles of Government (July 1795)
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 11, 2009 - 1:12AM #2
mountain_man
Posts: 40,576
He has the right to pray any way he wants in his church, his home, or in any place he wants, but the does not have the right to force his religion in or on a government meeting. Now we just have to get them kicked out of Congress.
Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

I am a Humanist. I believe in a rational philosophy of life, informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by a desire to do good for its own sake and not by an expectation of a reward or fear of punishment in an afterlife.
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 11, 2009 - 10:46PM #3
Kemay
Posts: 185

The City Council of Fredericksburg, VA has a policy that prayers before meetings be non-sectarian.


Personally, I don't get why the City Council of Fredericksburg -- or any city council, or any U.S. governmental body on any level -- is having public prayer before meetings at all. Seriously, what's the point, other than showing everyone how pious you are? Why don't people pray for divine blessing and guidance before the meeting? Is God an über-bureaucrat who only pays attention to prayers if they are made in a group setting inside a government building while conducting government business?

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6 years ago  ::  Feb 11, 2009 - 10:49PM #4
Sacrificialgoddess
Posts: 9,496
I personally am having a hard time seeing how a prayer can be anything but sectarian.
Dark Energy. It can be found in the observable Universe. Found in ratios of 75% more than any other substance. Dark Energy. It can be found in religious extremists, in cheerleaders. To come to the conclusion that Dark signifies mean and malevolent would define 75% of the Universe as an evil force. Alternatively, to think that some cheerleaders don't have razors in their snatch is to be foolishly unarmed.

-- Tori Amos
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 11, 2009 - 10:51PM #5
Chiyo
Posts: 5,799

Kemay wrote:

Personally, I don't get why the City Council of Fredericksburg -- or any city council, or any U.S. governmental body on any level -- is having public prayer before meetings at all. Seriously, what's the point, other than showing everyone how pious you are? Why don't people pray for divine blessing and guidance before the meeting? Is God an über-bureaucrat who only pays attention to prayers if they are made in a group setting inside a government building while conducting government business?


Kemay! Long time no see!... Glad to have you here. :)

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6 years ago  ::  Feb 12, 2009 - 1:00AM #6
TPaine
Posts: 9,488
Members of the Christian Taliban insist on having prayer to open sessions of legislative bodies from the city to the federal level. The thing is, they also believe that such prayer must be Christian, although they can tolerate an occasional Jewish prayer, as long as the Jewish people don't get to uppity and expect to have the right every month or so. In July 2007 a Hundu chaplin, Rajan Zed, was invited to open the Senate secession with a prayer. If you listen to the enclosed link, you will understand that Christians are not interested in any ecumenical actions by our government. Bigots must be bigots, I guess.
The actions of the Religious Reich activists do not speak for the mainstreem Christian majority, but they certainly have political clout due to the money they receive from their fearful herd of sheep that the leaders have frightened into marching in lockstep to avoid a make believe future of fire and brimstone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZ9To30H … 1&index=30
"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case." Thomas Paine:
Dissertation on First Principles of Government (July 1795)
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 12, 2009 - 10:20PM #7
Kemay
Posts: 185
[FONT=Book Antiqua][SIZE=3]#6 (TPaine) -- Oh, I know all that. It still exasperates me, though, sometimes. That, and it always makes me recall the old Monty Python "Church Bells" skit. ("What about us atheists? Why should we have to listen to that sectarian nonsense? The Mohammedens don't come 'round waving bells at us. We don't have Buddhists playing bagpipes in the bathroom or Hindus harmonizing in the hall ... " etc.) :D

Speaking of Hindus, I do recall hearing about that incident when it happened, and thought that it was extraordinarily rude towards the Hindu gentleman who was giving the invocation. If you can't maintain a respectful silence while a religious (or other) ritual is being performed, then leave quietly and come back when it's over. It's called Simple Courtesy 101, and is not that hard. I also -- then as now -- wondered, "Why in the world do we need Hindus, or Christians, or anybody, to perform a public, government-sanctioned prayer before conducting government business? Can't we just get on with it?"

Sorry to sound so bah-humbug about it, but ... bah. Humbug.

Ahoy, Chiyo! It is a pleasure to see you here, as it is anywhere.
  :)[/SIZE][/FONT]
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 13, 2009 - 1:16PM #8
TPaine
Posts: 9,488
Kemay,
When I try to figure out what the intent of the Framers was, I tend to look at what the "Father of the Constitution," said:

"Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?

In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation.

The establishment of the chaplainship to Congs is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles: The tenets of the chaplains elected [by the majority] shut the door of worship agst the members whose creeds & consciences forbid a participation in that of the majority. To say nothing of other sects, this is the case with that of Roman Catholics & Quakers who have always had members in one or both of the Legislative branches. Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain? To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the evil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers. or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor.

If Religion consist in voluntary acts of individuals, singly, or voluntarily associated, and it be proper that public functionaries, as well as their Constituents shd discharge their religious duties, let them like their Constituents, do so at their own expence. How small a contribution from each member of Congs wd suffice for the purpose? How just wd it be in its principle? How noble in its exemplary sacrifice to the genius of the Constitution; and the divine right of conscience? Why should the expence of a religious worship be allowed for the Legislature, be paid by the public, more than that for the Ex. or Judiciary branch of the Govt" -- James Madison - Detached Memoranda


"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case." Thomas Paine:
Dissertation on First Principles of Government (July 1795)
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