Saturday, December 03, 2005

The U.S. Constitution: It's why I remain seated.

Daniels: Prayer ruling 'regrettable'; House GOP might announce appeal, by Ashley M. Heher (Associated Press – published in the Courier-Journal).

Their Man Mitch, a.k.a. “Hoosier Vanguard?,” took a quick Friday break from composing his most recent thank-you note to syndicated columnist George Will, and expressed righteous outrage over the ACLU’s refusal to back away from taunting the Christian Right with passages from the US Constitution.

Gov. Mitch Daniels said yesterday that he disagrees with a federal court ruling restricting prayers in the state House of Representatives.

"I just think it's regrettable," he said in his weekly meeting with reporters. "It's in a long line of confusing and sometimes clumsy attempts by courts to insert themselves into this issue."

Confusing and clumsy? Not at all, given that the fundamental question pertaining to this issue simply isn’t being asked.

Why must there be a prayer at all in such a setting?

After all, it’s hardly a church.

U.S. District Judge David Hamilton offers a welcomed nod in this direction:

"All are free to pray as they wish in their own houses of worship or in other settings," Hamilton wrote in his opinion. "The individuals do not have a First Amendment right, however, to use an official platform like the Speaker's podium at the opening of a House session to express their own religious faiths."

Imagine that ... freedom to pray as one wished without state sanction? Perhaps it's something we can at least try here in America.

Rather than debate the semantic merits of neutral theological utterances, simply eliminate the prayer, and people of genuine faith can pursue this avenue in their own way and on their own time without it being commandeered as a backdoor effort to publicly proselytize.

4 comments:

Tim Deatrick said...

it's just another example of the religious right under the reign of king George Bush and his prince Mitch trying to run roughshod over the very essence of the constitution and what the founding fathers fought for the right to choose religion and spiritual beliefs freely without govt. mandates.

It is slowly creeping into our publicly funded institutions, for example moments of silence and the forced saying of the pledge in public schools.

Another example of the reign of terror, a public school teacher in monroe county public schools fired because she talked about her support of a local anti iraq war group in Bloomington.

where does it end?

The New Albanian said...

Tim, in truth, I don't know where it ends.

Highwayman said...

The freedom to worship debate has been ongoing since the pilgrims first landed on this soil.

Personally, I care not what path another chooses in this area but I do agree that government needs to stay the hell out of it! Even the appearance of a governing bodies sanction of one belief over another serves only to invoke discord within and without.

Much better I think to either worship with fellow believers or to worship in silence.

This is not to say that discussion
should not take place. But if those debates create discontent as opposed to balance the resulting cure is worse than the disease.

We all know by now that government achieving balance thru debate is as oximoronic as military intelligence so again this is an area that government needs to remain silent on other than to preserve the constitution as it was written.

Brandon W. Smith said...

Here is a little more info on the background of the case (taken from the ICLU website):

ICLU link

This lawsuit was brought by the ICLU on behalf of "a retired Methodist minister, a lobbyist for a statewide Quaker group, and two Roman Catholic citizens."

The case was filed on the heels of an extraordinary April 5, 2005 session that began with an invocation that included the statement, "I thank you Jesus for dying for me." The Speaker of the House then announced that the
minister "is going to bless us with a song." The minister proceeded to sing,"Just A Little Talk With Jesus" and legislators and onlookers were prompted to stand, clap and sing along.
(ICLU article)


The overarching framework that allows legislative bodies to have opening prayers is found in the Supreme Court opinion Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983).

While finishing up Bury the Chains last night, I was reminded that during a period of the French Revolution, a certain cathedral was renamed "The Temple of Reason" by those currently in charge of the government. The separation between church and state works both ways, and I'm glad to see that this action was actually brought by Christians who understand the value of such a separation. Today it might be a praise and worship session in the legislature, tomorrow the Temple of Reason.