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.