Justices allow public prayers at NY town’s council meetings

prayer

(CNN) — The Supreme Court gave limited approval on Monday to public prayers at a New York town’s board meetings, citing the country’s history of religious acknowledgment in the legislature.

The 5-4 ruling came in yet another contentious case over the intersection of faith and the civic arena. It was confined to the specific circumstances and offered little guidance on how other communities should offer civic prayers without violating the Constitution.

Two local women brought suit against officials in Greece, New York, objecting to invocations at monthly public sessions on government property. The invocations, according to the plaintiffs, have been overwhelmingly Christian in nature over the years.

3 comments

  • Vasu Murti

    The government of England favors one belief system (Anglican) over another (atheism) and the minority is told to either deal with it or get out, they can leave and live elsewhere, etc.

    As my friend Jesse Horner said, “That’s what they said about the Jews!”

    (And the Christians have the gall to claim they “cover” or “do unto others…”)

    Since it’s founding over two hundred years ago, the United States has been a haven for those fleeing religious discrimination and persecution in Europe. The United States was founded as a SECULAR society, neutral towards all religious belief AND disbelief.

    In 1787 when the framers excluded all mention of God from the Constitution, they were widely denounced as immoral and the document was denounced as godless, which is precisely what it is. Opponents of the Constitution challenged ratifying conventions in nearly every state, calling attention to Article VI, Section 3: “No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    An anti-federalist in North Carolina wrote: “The exclusion of religious tests is by many thought dangerous and impolitic. Pagans, Deists and Mohammedans might obtain office among us.” Amos Singletary of Massachussetts, one of the most outspoken critics of the Constitution, said that he “hoped to see Christians (in power), yet by the Constitution, a papist or an infidel was as eligible as they.”

    Luther Martin, a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 wrote that “there were some members so unfashionable as to think that a belief in the existence of a Deity, and of a state of future rewards and punishments would be some security for the good conduct of our rulers, and that in a Christian country, it would be at least decent to hold out some distinction between the professors of Christianity and downright infidelity or paganism.”

    Martin’s report shows that a “Christian nation” faction had its say during the convention, and that its views were consciously rejected.

    The United States Constitution is a completely secular political document. It begins “We the people,” and contains no mention of “God,” “Jesus,” or “Christianity.” Its only references to religion are exclusionary, such as the “no religious test” clause (Article VI), and “Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” (First Amendment)

    The presidential oath of office, the only oath detailed in the Constitution, does not contain the phrase “so help me God” or any requirement to swear on a Bible (Article II, Section 1). The words “under God” did not appear in the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, when Congress, under McCarthyism, inserted them.

    Similarly, “In God we Trust” was absent from paper currency before 1956, though it did appear on some coins beginning in 1864. The original U.S. motto, written by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, is “E Pluribus Unum” (“Of Many, One”) celebrating plurality and diversity.

    In 1797, America made a treaty with Tripoli, declaring that “the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” This reassurance to Islam was written under Washington’s presidency and approved by the Senate under John Adams.

    We are not governed by the Declaration of Independence. Its purpose was to “dissolve the political bonds,” not to set up a religious nation. Its authority was based upon the idea that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” which is contrary to the biblical concept of rule by divine authority.

    The Declaration deals with laws, taxation, representation, war, immigration, etc., and doesn’t discuss religion at all. The references to “Nature’s God,” “Creator,” and “Divine Providence” in the Declaration do not endorse Christianity. Its author, Thomas Jefferson, was a Deist, opposed to Christianity and the supernatural.

    “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. However, Jefferson admitted, “In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man and that other parts are the fabric of very inferior minds…” It was Thomas Jefferson who established the separation of church and state. Jefferson was deeply suspicious of religion and of clergy wielding political power.

    Jefferson helped create the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786, incurring the wrath of Christians by his fervent defense of toleration of atheists:

    “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are only injurious to others. But it does no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

    Yes. Neutrality. The government must remain laissez-faire towards all belief AND disbelief.

    The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

  • Gerry

    I sure hope that every religion gets their day of prayer then. Including the Pastafarians, Satanists, Muslims, etc…

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