Monday, August 11, 2008

4th Circuit Ruling on City Council Prayer

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling in Turner v. City Council of Fredericksburg, that should put all gov't entities on notice: sectarian prayer is not going to be tolerated.

The issue came up when a Baptist minister, Hashmel Turner, was elected to the Fredericksburg City Council. The Council's policy is to alternate amongst the council members the duty of the invocation, an invocation that the council required to be non-sectarian.

The Good Minister decided he wanted to pray in Jesus' Name when it came his turn & he decided to sue when told that was a violation of the policy, claiming the policy violated his free speech rights.

The court agreed with the City of Fredricksburg, claiming the policy requiring non-sectarian prayer violated neither the Establishment Clause nor the
Council member/minister' free exercise.

The court concluded:

Turner was not forced to offer a prayer that violated his deeply-held religious beliefs. Instead, he was given the chance to pray on behalf of the government. Turner was unwilling to do so in the manner that the government had proscribed, but remains free to pray on his own behalf, in nongovernmental endeavors, in the manner dictated by his conscience. His First Amendment and Free Exercise rights have not been violated.

John Stevens, a former Chaplain for Congress, has an interesting take on this, saying that our gov't officials are nothing more than the Pharisees Jesus warned us about when he said they love to pray for show. What does that make the constituents who clamor for gov't to do the praying the represented population?

I view prayers and invocations at governmental meetings, particularly before the public, as hypocritical. It is professed Christians who claim to be followers of Jesus and therefore they must show their loyalty to their Saviour by praying in public.

In reality, if the council sought the guidance of God in their decisions why not have a private meeting before assembling before the public and pray, as it were “in secret,” like their Example exhorted His followers. Politicians today are the modern Pharisees and priests who are clamoring for recognition and many of them hiding behind a hypocritical facade. . .

If I had my way I would divorce prayers and religious exercises from governmental functions altogether.

One day I served as chaplain in the US House when Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House. Most of the Members were not even seated, they were talking and it was a farce. I decided then and there it was a formality and probablydidn ’t do any one any good and perhaps even did them some harm in that the lack of reverence for God probably carried over to disrespect for the people to put them there.

Alas. This is one nation under god. I believe that. Almost every thing tells us that. However, it is god spelled with the lower case in my humble experienced opinion. Both Jesus and Paul call him the god of this world. Those who serve him cannot get too much attention and those who do not, care not for that kind of attention.

This is another Godslinger problem. It has to do with the Bible, alright, but it has to do with Jesus talking about
prayer for show. Don't they pray at home? Why use gov't time --- public gov't time --- to pray?

Gov't needs to shut the closet door & keep prayer a matter for the faith groups. We elect civil leaders to handle civil matters. The Good Minister would do well to remember his role as a disciplemaker has to do with his church members, not the taxpayers.


Anonymous said...

Off topic tip here but you may want to look at SeantheBaptist recent Blog about Bill Leonard's address in Europe.
Bruce Prescott was quite fond of it.
Love to see you blog on recent round of Corsi and Matalin's Swiftboating Obama. Got an active discussion going at hoping Rick Warren will signal Richard Land's silence in his Town Hall this saturday.
Hope you are otherwise well.


Anonymous said...

". . . as the government had prescribed." This was a clear violation of that minister's First Amendment rights, but then, Christians in this country are the only group who don't enjoy First Amendment rights. The argument that prayer should be done only in secret is what the liberal left in this country wants. They want all Christian influence to be totally & completely out of the public eye. Isn't it strange that the ONLY cases that come before the Appellate Courts are those cases that involve the Bible? When was the last time we saw a lawsuit because someone prayed in the name of Allah? Hmmm . . . we won't see it either. Instead, there are public school systems & colleges in this country providing prayer rooms & times for Islamic students. Isn't this a contradiction? Obviously so. " . . . in the manner the government prescribed" is illegal. The government can't tell people how to pray, no matter the circumstances. The court was wrong on this & shows a continually growing disrespect for anything to do with Christianity. There is also nothing hypocrytical about praying in public. John Stevens obviously didn't know what the Bible said: Matthew 10:33 - "But whoever denies me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in Heaven."

P.S. That Mountain Dew sometime sounds good!