The Supreme Court began hearing arguments this week on an issue that it had already ruled on 30-years ago, a decision, which said that, prayers used to open official government meetings are not unconstitutional and do not violate the First Amendment. Two women atheists, however, thought differently, and filed a lawsuit against the town of Greece, NY, which they say opens its town council meetings with a Christian prayer. A federal appeals court decision, which previously ruled in the women’s favor, has now been brought before the nine Supreme Court Justices of the United States.
Here, we go again.
I wrote in a previous article a month ago, how the Christmas holidays always seem to bring out endless, hordes of anti-religion, special interest groups. Last month it was the case in Oregon about Christmas caroling in school choirs, and now it is about Christian prayers at town council meetings. It appears that anti-religion, zealots will stop at nothing to have any public prayer eliminated entirely.
To them, the Christian faithful should say, “baa….”
The Supreme Court began its hearing of the case on Wednesday, with the opening line, by the Deputy Solicitor General, who said, “God save the United States and this honorable court.”
It is ironic, and at the same time humorous, that the case itself began with a prayer and a reference to God. Did the two women atheists, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, object to that opening? Clearly not, and it even prompted a question to the Deputy Solicitor General by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who asked him what everyone in the courtroom would do if Chief Justice Roberts himself, had said at the opening of the proceedings, “All rise for a prayer.”
The Solicitor General’s answer was swift: “I don’t think many would sit, Your Honor.”
As the Justices listened to suggestions from the two women’s attorney, about how to exclude prayers and any religious influence, they quickly became concerned.
Two of the other Justices quickly pounced on the women’s attorney, Douglas Laycock, who is a University of Virginia law professor. Justice Antonin Scalia said, “You want to pick the groups we’re going to exclude?” and Chief Justice Robert’s added, “We’ve already excluded the atheists, right?” Justice Samuel Alito also voiced his disapproval when he said, “I just don’t see how it is possible to compose anything that you could call a prayer that is acceptable to all of these groups.”
So while the Supreme Court argues the case and leaves us wondering how they will rule, a variety of questions come to mind.
If you went to a town meeting attended by a majority of Muslims would they let you tell them they cannot read a prayer from the Koran? You can bet they would not, and you would probably be thrown out of the meeting if you tried to, and probably told never to return.
Although some people may refer to a Christian prayer – as a paralyzing premise – others may view it as a constitutional right that is protected by the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the United States Constitution. In those two clauses together, it clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Note, the last part, which says, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Lots of atheists and religion-haters love to ignore that part and make-believe it does not exist. They misinterpret the first part by arguing that if any prayer at all is mentioned that it is a direct proclamation of an official religion by the United States government. That misinterpretation is wrong and ignorant. The United States government has never said that Christianity is America’s official religion and it most assuredly never will.
Town council meetings are just that – town council meetings. If its attendees are predominantly Christian, should they be banned by law from asking the one God that they recognize to guide them spiritually in their affairs? Should two-people – out of hundreds or maybe thousands – be allowed to derail that observance to satisfy their own atheistic beliefs?
This case is no different from the one brought up recently to the Supreme Court, by a small group of Native American Indians, who were upset over the name of an NFL football team. To satisfy such a small group, should the name be changed? What’s going to be next, taking “In God We Trust” off the dollar bill because a small minority of bankers oppose it?
I find it amusing how some people love to remind us all that there is a separation between church and state. We all know that, and we do not need to be reminded of it every time a prayer-slayer hears one whispered behind him.
Let’s be realistic here. The hordes of atheists would love to have the courts tell Christians to shut their mouths and never mention the name of God in public ever again. Other religions would like to see that happen also while at the same time, they slowly work their own religion’s equal rights amendments into the United States Constitution – which, by the way, some have been doing…only not too many people have noticed.
What this country should be asking itself is the question of why religion, and especially Christianity, is being attacked at all? We have not seen other religions coming under such scrutiny, so why should the Catholic religion be scrutinized so often? It makes one wonder what underlying intentions exist by groups who use the First Amendment as an excuse to outlaw prayer in public settings.
Observing one’s religion, its traditions and beliefs are not an insult to another religion. As long as it is not being forced on someone, though, to be recognized as their own, then it offers no undue influence. If certain people do not like a particular prayer, or for some reason feel threatened by it, then they should seek spiritual or divine guidance within a higher power that they do recognize.
© Joseph E. Rathjen – All Rights Reserved – 2013
- Supreme Court wrestles with how ‘religious’ prayer should be at public meetings (religionnews.com)
- Analysis: At Supreme Court hearing, passions over religion and its rules – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Is Prayer At The Start Of A Legislative Session Constitutional? (outsidethebeltway.com)