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Janine Turner

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May 8, 2014 - 11:02 pm
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For those Americans who believe in the sanctity of freedom of speech, religion, and the First Amendment (specifically the words “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof”), the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Town of Greece, NY vs. Galloway upholding these rights in local government is a victory.

As Justice Kennedy stated in his decision, “The First Amendment is not a majority rule, and a government may not seek to define permissible categories of religious speech. Once it invites prayer into the public sphere, government must permit a prayer-giver to address his or her own God or gods as conscience dictates.”

These words give guidance, and permission, to prayer-givers. When asked to pray at local government gatherings, pray-givers now have the blessing, so to speak, to pray to their own God. Many prayer-givers have been disconcerted about how to pray to a gathering of diverse people on a local level. Should they be generic or true to their own convictions? How does one not “offend”? According to the recent Supreme Court decision, the prayer-givers have the right to pray to their God of choice.

This great liberty, fought and bought with blood, sweat, and tears, is accompanied by great responsibilities, however, from the local government, the prayer-givers, and the community of citizens. Today’s America embodies a wide swath of religions; thus, local governments carry the responsibility of incorporating a comparable scope of prayer-givers that encompasses varied religions. The prayer-givers have the right to be honest to their convictions, honoring their God, but also have the responsibility to craft a prayer that does not force their beliefs on others. The prayer-giver should refrain from using prayers that “threaten damnation or preach conversion,” stated Justice Kennedy. The community of citizens has the responsibility to be respectful to the prayer-giver and the local government being sustained by their right to believe in the prayer or not.

All Comments   (25)
All Comments   (25)
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What about if a Nazi prays? Not all religions are worthy of respect. In fact, I believe only one is. That's why I believe in it. What this "diversity" requirement is saying is that you are allowed to believe and publicly express your belief only if you don't really believe. But of course, this does not apply to any non-Western religion, because - oh, you know - racism, oppression, etc.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Honestly, though, Muslim prayer?
No. HELL no.
I refuse to get all lawyerly on this. Just....no. No!
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes.

An imam will be able to offer his prayer.

10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
This problem is pretty simple. If a town wants to have a prayer before a meeting all they have to do is have a silent moment of prayer. This allows each person in the room to pray however they see fit, and if a person is an atheist then they can choose their moment of silence to be whatever they like.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would like to see a video of a city commission meeting being opened by an invited atheist, giving a three-minute homage to Humean empiricism.

exanimo
davidfarrar
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
That would be mighty interesting.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would be interested in hearing how people would respond to a non-monotheistic God; a Wiccan prayer to the Goddess, a humanist plea for rational thought, a Druid prayer?
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I may be atypical, but I've been to a few "pagan" ceremonies in my life. I didn't find them any more offensive or abrasive than the average "Christian" invocations I've experienced at many events. As an agnostic I generally appreciate the form even if I don't always agree with each message. Spirituality is usually fine. Agressive attacking of "the other" in the public sector is not so amusing. It's one of the reasons I don't like many progressives in the public sector because of their agressive attacking of people who hold contrary opinions.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let's not leave out the Flying Spaghetti Monster!!
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't diss the Pastafarians!
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've heard some variations. I've simply been respectfully quiet.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Perfect - so remember, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IF SOMEONE STARTS PRAYING TO SOME FALSE NON-EXISTENT GOD IS ............. LEAVE.
If EVERYBODY did that, I think the followers of these false gods would lose any power they thought they had.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
OOR...if you are in a good spot to view the festivities following the prayer, (& din't want to loose that spot), just put your fingers in your ears.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're previous article was so well written, I had to come back.
Looking forward to more, well done!
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm very much with you. Here's where the test gets difficult.
A local Muslim prays to Allah by that name for guidance for the council members and the public. Will our commenters respect her broad prayer, consistent with what any Jew or Christian might say except that it's addressed to the Muslim supreme being? Some Muslims, Christians and Jews agree that the terms God and Allah mean the same entity but some do not believe this.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would be more interested in hearing how people would respond to a non-monothesiitic God; a Wiccan prayer to the Goddess, a humanist plea for rational thought, a Druid prayer?
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Allahu Akhbar does indeed means "Al illah (the God) is GREATER (than the Hebrew god).

I want to know what others are thinking.
I want to see them coming.
Nothing hidden, their intent or my (dis) agreement.
Let us count both allies and unfriendlies in the open.

Since I'm an atheist, I believe in public decency- the Golden Rule.
Responsibilty and respect for others, when they show the same, thanks Miss Turner.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd have no problems with such a prayer.

There's no right not to be offended. There are time in life when you are going to be offended, and indeed should be offended. A life long spent with no offense is a very small life.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's absolutely nothing difficult with that test.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Slimdaddy
It should be easy, I agree -- I've read enough comments here to wonder if some of our friends would balk, though.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well said, Janine
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
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