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Supreme Court Ruling Allows Required Christian Prayer at Public Meetings in Greece, New York State

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2014 | Civil Rights |

Or, America is slowly becoming a theocracy. How does that work for you? 
A New Jersey Employment and Civil Rights Attorney discusses:

Prayer in public places and settings is a fiery subject; it tends to arouse passions. So let’s get right into it, and right to the heart of the point.

The Supreme Court has once again produced a real winner, a ruling which is clearly another concession to neo-conservatives, a case decided along surprisingly, and distressingly, religious lines. The majority in the opinion are Christian males; the minority are not.

The Supreme Court gave limited approval on Monday the 5th of May to public prayers in public meetings in the town of Greece, New York State. The justices cited the country’s “history of religious acknowledgment” in legislative proceedings.

The decision is another nail in the coffin of separation of church and state, and another flagstone on the road to fascist theocracy.

The anti-establishment clause of the constitution absolutely and clearly prohibits any act which would tend to establish any religious practice, and especially a specific religious practice, by or involving a government agency or a government function.

America is a free secular republic in which of all faiths (including minority faiths and atheists) must be allowed to feel equal in the eyes of the law. How is a Muslim going to feel appearing in front of a town hall that requires a Christian prayer before that Muslim may speak? How about a Jewish person? How about a homosexual, whose very existence is considered a mortal sin by the religion supporting the prayer being offered before that homosexual has a chance to speak?

Disgusting. The rest of the world is laughing at our hypocrisy, and rightly so. I wish I could laugh, but I live here.

The anti-establishment clause is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government. It is there to protect government from the grasp of religion. The fact that Justice Kennedy suggests that the prayer does not “coerce participation by non adherence” entirely misses the point. It coerces anyone who has to listen to it.

Some people find particular faiths offensive and the precepts of those faiths offensive. Those people have the right to appear in front of a public body in a secular country without feeling as if they’re going to be met with hostility and bigotry because the people to whom they must speak (or apply for variances, etc.) are biased against the speaker on the basis of religious affiliation – or non-affiliation.

Even though Justices Thomas and Scalia admitted that “subtle pressure” would be present, impliedly, with such prayers, that’s not enough reason to ban them.

Seriously? Don’t those officials have churches they can pray in? Homes? Why must they push their religiosity in the faces of others?

The descent by Justice Kagan observed that when “citizens of this country approach their government, they do so only as Americans, not as members of one faith or another, and that means that even in a partly legislative body, they should not confront a government-sponsored warship that divides them along religious lines.”

Sage words.

Think I’m being alarmist? That this doesn’t matter? Go to the internet and punch in the phrase “mandated government prayer,” or any close approximation. In fact, punch in “mandated school prayer” while you’re at it. You’ll find thousands of organizations and causes, with claimed millions of members, for whom the agenda is turning America into a Theocracy. Oh, they vary in terms of what sort of theocracy they want to set up, but that’s sort the reason we have the anti-establishment clause in the first place, isn’t it? Because no one’s religious views should predominate over others?

I don’t want any of them with a chokehold on secular government. Religion belongs in church, mosque, synagogue, sacred grove or the home. It belongs in your heart. It doesn’t belong in school except as an academic study as to man’s attachment to mythology. It doesn’t belong in government buildings unless it is the subject of a dispute or a court ruling. This isn’t Saudi Arabia, or Sudan.

This decision burns the Constitution just a little bit more at the edges. As a civil rights attorney, I’m not just offended by this decision, I am deeply alarmed by it. And if you’re “ok” with this decision, because you happen to be a Christian, you better hope your brand of theocracy wins the war, or you might regret your failure to take a stand against religious observances in government processes.