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March 8th, 2010
Freethought San Marcos: Christians nationwide demand government support for their religion

Freethought San Marcos: A column
by LAMAR W. HANKINS

For many years, city councils around the country have allowed their meetings to be used to promote Christianity, mostly of the evangelical kind. In 2009, we found a large number of challengers pushing back against this promotion of Christianity by local governments all around the country. They have been speaking up and demanding that such advancement of religion, mainly Christianity, by their local governments cease. They point out that the entanglement of local governments with religion violates the First Amendment as that is understood by the courts, including the Supreme Court.

In 2009, city councils challenged about their sectarian prayers ranged from Fresno (Calif.) to Wheaton (Ill.) to Lakeland (Fla.) to North Richland Hills to Cleveland (Ohio) to Roanoke, (Va.) to Yucca Valley (Calif.) to Memphis (Tenn.) to Lodi (Calif.) to Addison (Ill.) to Tehachapi (Calif.) to Tampa (Fla.) to Batavia (Ill.) to Houston to Turlock (Calif.) to North Kansas City (Mo.) to St. Charles (Ill.) to Twentynine Palms (Calif.) to La Crosse (Wisconsin) to Lompoc (Calif.) to Villa Park (Ill.) to Toledo (Ohio) to Joshua Tree (Calif) to Chesapeake (Va.) to West Chicago (Ill.) to Bakersfield (Calif.) to Shelby (Ohio) to Lancaster (Calif.) to Victoria to Philadelphia (Penn.) to Independence (Mo.) to Tustin (Calif.) to Elmhurst (Ill.) to San Marcos.

The challenges have been supported by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU). The legal problem pointed to in every case is that the city councils promote religion, especially Christianity, either exclusively or primarily, in their prayers and invocations.

Many of these city councils have tried to avoid a religious entanglement problem by opening up the invocations to prayers from different religious traditions, including some that are outside of Judeo-Christian practices. A few have chosen to start with a moment of silence. A handful of city councils have chosen to defy the objectors by continuing with their exclusively Christian invocations.

Frequently, emotions have run high, with Christians arguing that this is a Christian nation and that beginning a meeting with a Christian prayer is, therefore, appropriate. Of course, this position begs the question. While most of the founders of this country were Christians of one sort or another, they chose to create a secular government. Not once in the Constitution they wrote did they mention God or Christianity.

One of the Constitution-based arguments against sectarian invocations is that when a person is invited to speak for and represent the city government, any prayer must be nonsectarian. Otherwise, the government is endorsing one religion over another, or religion in general, rather than remaining neutral about religion as the Constitution requires.

When sectarian prayers are offered before city council meetings, the government clearly shows bias toward one religion. As one attorney said, on behalf of a complainant against the practice of a California city council, “Public officials are not only alienating a large swath of the non-Christian constituents they represent, but they are also clearly violating one of the most basic principles of the Constitution – that government must not favor one religion over others.” When public meetings are opened with prayers in the name of Jesus, the government places its imprimatur on Christianity.

People of good will around the country have offered suggestions to make city council prayers and invocations more palatable and less Constitutionally suspect. A United Methodist Church minister in Lompoc, CA, had this suggestion for a preface before all city council invocations, a sort of disclaimer to protect the city council from litigation:

“The city of Lompoc endorses no religious faith, but respects and celebrates the many people of different faiths who reside here. The City Council historically begins its sessions with an invocation offered by one of the religious leaders of our community with full appreciation of our shared belief that we are, ‘one nation under God’ and we respect the religious freedom and freedom of expression of all our citizens to pray as they feel led to pray.”

This sounds reasonable until you begin to look at who is left out of his proposal. It includes only people of faith. What happens to the Buddhists (who are not a faith in the usual sense) and the atheists or other non-believers, however they are described? They make up over 15% of the population in the U.S. and are even more prevalent among our youth. Should they be excluded from full citizenship, ostracized, and left out of the governance of the city? Not everyone in a community believes that “we are, ‘one nation, under God.’” The prayer that will follow the disclaimer leaves out these groups.

A recent decision (January 28, 2010) from a United States District Court in North Carolina analyzed the current state of the law with regard to such invocations. and concluded, following Supreme Court jurisprudence and that of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals: “When we gather as Americans, we do not abandon all expressions of religious faith. Instead, our expressions evoke common and inclusive themes and forswear … the forbidding character of sectarian invocations.”

Many city attorneys have noted language in the leading Supreme court decision that addresses legislative prayer, Marsh v. Chambers, where the court held that the prayer opportunity must not be “exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief.” In following the Marsh decision, a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in 2004 held that any sectarian invocations of deities in legislative prayer demonstrate affiliating the government with a particular sect or creed and/or advancing a particular faith or belief: “Marsh does not permit legislators to … engage, as part of public business and for the citizenry as a whole, in prayers that contain explicit references to a deity in whose divinity only those of one faith believe.”

The city attorney in San Marcos, Texas, advised the city council to adopt an opening prayer practice that attempts to insulate the city council from the holding in Marsh and other cases. The San Marcos City Council adopted a scheme last summer that provided in part that “The opportunity to offer an invocation is a privilege and not a right. The opportunity shall not be exploited to advance any one religion, disparage any other religion, or to proselytize. Violations of this policy may result in removal from the rotation list.” Despite violations of the policy (mainly by praying in the name of Jesus), no one has been removed from the rotation list.

One flaw in this scheme is that it establishes the city council as the purveyor of a privilege of practicing religion in its chambers as a part of official government business, a notion that eats at the heart of the First Amendment’s prohibition against an establishment of religion. In addition, the policy limits invocation participants to “clergy,” though at least two religious groups that have no clergy at present in San Marcos have been allowed to offer invocations through a representative. The policy further limits participation to those who represent a “faith tradition,” effectively excluding others who are not a part of a faith tradition, but who are capable of giving an invocation, which is nothing more than a petition for help or support. This provision makes clear that the city council is promoting religion over non-religion.

Since the adoption of this new invocation scheme in San Marcos, there have been fourteen invocations at regular city council meetings. All but one of those prayers were directed to the Judeo-Christian God. That invocation was offered by a member of the San Marcos Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Nine of the prayers specifically invoked the name of Jesus, with phrases like “In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,” “In Jesus’ name we pray,” and similar phrases. While many of the prayers were fawning and jingoistic, suggesting the righteousness of city council members, the city, and the country, this new scheme is an improvement over past practices when all the prayers were prayed in Jesus’ name, but it continues to be constitutionally defective.

Thirteen of the fourteen invocations given since the change in the invocation policy before the San Marcos City council were sectarian prayers–acts of religious worship to the Judeo-Christian God. They were done at a time when the chamber was full of citizens who came to participate in the governance of the city. Frequently, visitors and citizens in attendance when the prayers were introduced were asked to behave in a certain manner, e.g., stand and bow their heads–a clearly religious practice. Visitors and citizens in attendance were referred to in many of the prayers, if not all of them, as in the use of the inclusive “we” in reference to speaking to God for all in attendance.

The public broadcast of the prayers over the internet and cable television provides the City Council a way to religiously exhort those of its citizens who watch via those mediums. And the invocation is difficult to avoid if one wants to do so: The agenda is not followed in the order posted, making it difficult to know when the invocation will be called for. The invocation is never placed at the beginning of a meeting, but posted often as the 5th or 6th item, and may be done after a workshop, an executive session, and after proclamations are issued, so city council members, officials, administrators, and staff, as well as visitors present at the meeting cannot easily avoid participation, or be absent, during the prayer.

One characteristic common to these cities that practice offering Christian prayers at their public meetings is the insistence by vocal Christians that the practice be continued and opponents be damned. But there is at least one constitutional option available to these devout Christians who believe that it is important to demonstrate their piety by praying in public. During the public comment period offered by most city councils, they can use their allotted time to pray publicly. This would be a way to use their free speech time to witness to their faith, and it would not place the government in the position of promoting religion, since anyone can speak during these times about any subject that concerns the speaker.

Jerry Moore, the Opinions Editor for Suburban Life Publications in Downers Grove, Illinois, expressed the spirit of the legislative prayer court decisions well when he wrote: “People shouldn’t look to their local governments for spiritual inspiration. If a topic isn’t secular in nature, it’s none of the government’s business. Municipal bodies should remain neutral on religious matters, and they must have the courage to tell residents that divine invocations at meetings isn’t appropriate. Let’s leave religious issues to the church and public issues to the state.”

And he could have reminded Christians, the only sect pushing for government prayers that I have found, about Christ’s teaching about prayer found in Matthew, chapter 6, verses 5-8 (New International Version):

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

One of the greatest ironies of this government prayer promotion is that the most prominent proponents of it are the Christian evangelicals, who believe most literally in the words of the Bible. None of them have ever explained publicly how their behavior can be reconciled with the teachings of Jesus, such as those quoted above. It is a feeble and flaccid religion that needs the imprimatur of government to find its relevance. If all who call themselves Christian followed the admonitions of Jesus, we would not have a problem with sectarian prayers at city council meetings throughout the United States.

© Freethought San Marcos, Lamar W. Hankins

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25 thoughts on “Freethought San Marcos: Christians nationwide demand government support for their religion

  1. Very good op-ed.

    The co-president of FFRF likes to ask whether they

    really need divine guidance for a sewer project.

  2. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” That certainly is good enough for me and see no need, absolutely no need “to keep babbling like the pagans.” I am with Matthew and Lamar on this one.

  3. Thanks Lamar, that was a spectacular op-ed, lucid and pithy. The only flaw I see is that you were quite possibly over-generous. As often as not, clergy do not merely request an audience to bow their heads and close their eyes in obeisance to the Judeo-Christian deity, rather they command the audience to perform obeisance. In so doing, they clearly violate the human rights of all present atheists, humanists, agnostics, Buddhists, Shintoists, Hindus, Sikhs, etc. Here in the USA, where our government has nominally accepted the validity of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that Declaration defines our human rights. Article 18 gives us not only the right to freedom of religion, but also the right to freedom of thought. Article 7 makes it a human rights violation to incite someone else to commit a human rights violation. That being the case, clergy do not only commit a human rights violation when they command others to perform obeisance to their deity, but they also commit a human rights violation when they incite members of their laity or congregation to do so on their behalf. What I find particularly offensive is the fact that clergy, in their hypocrisy, claim to be serious proponents of human rights, despite the intensity of their zeal to violate the human rights of non-believers. Thanks again for writing such a thorough and well-reasoned op-ed.

  4. History lessons from the past: The first act of the Continental Congress was a call to prayer. – September 6, 1774

    Lamar, are you really using the U.S. Constitution as a tool for determining the powers and restrictions of local authority? In this case, that’s probably the weakest argument one can make given that the U.S. Constitution is a document intended to outline the functionality, powers, and limitations of the federal government, not cities, municipalities, counties, or state governments. You are aware that the U.S. Constitution does not restrict local authorities from invoking God or Christianity during their events/meetings/gatherings etc? If it does anything, it places a limit on the federal government’s ability to do so. But then again, you are a Fabian Socialist, and thus you seek to expand federal control and influence across all 50 states, while promoting atheism and a secular society. Which you do as a member of Atheist Nexis: http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/LAMARWHANKINS?xg_source=activity

    Here’s another way your argument loses:

    It is written in the U.S. Constitution, “Done in convention…in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth.”

    The phrase ‘year of our Lord’:
    1. (archaic or religious) Of the Common Era; anno Domini; numbered from the once estimated first year for the birth of Jesus.

    The Christian doctrine of the Trinity teaches the unity of Father, Son [Lord Jesus Christ], and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead. Thus, the mention of the Lord is essentially mentioning God.

    I know you’ll say this is a silly argument, but you claim that “Not once in the Constitution they wrote did they mention God or Christianity.” This claim is patently false. You would be wise to amend you argument to say, “Not once in the Constitution they wrote the word ‘God’.” Then you would be correct.

    The fact that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t mention the word ‘God’ directly is a pointless argument given that the U.S. Constitution is a document that outlines the functionality and powers of a federal government. Now, if you want to honestly exam the Founding Fathers in religious terms, I suggest you delve into the Declaration of Independence and the various personal/published writings of these great men. There you will find a wealth of references to the Lord, God, the Creator, etc. They clearly supported the ‘promotion of Christianity’ in local governments. They only opposed such promotion on a federal level because of their understandable objection to the Church of England’s role in government.

    Remember that the first official act of the Continental Congress was a call to prayer on September 6, 1774. And this was an act of men representing local authorities.

  5. John, I didn’t know that ‘clergy’ were leading prayer in city council meetings? I was under the impression that it was lead by city council members and/or citizen attendees. I too would be bothered by members of a church clergy leading pray at a city council meeting as that would be the promotion of specific denomination. But if it’s lead by people that are not representing a specific church or denomination, then I see any problem with it.

    Why is it that atheist are the most intolerant people? What harm is a simple prayer doing to you? So you don’t like hearing it. Get over it. There are far more important things to deal with. And there are far more dangerous issues facing us.

    The funny thing about all this is that education has been in decline and social ills have been on the rise since religion has taken out of the public discussion.

  6. Now we will be able to say that all the religions start from one basic belief. Once we accept this or think like this way, we can say all the religions believes in one God or a same God with different names and personalities according to the regional and religious creeds. Now we can say that “Y H V H”, “The Holy Trinity’, “Allah”, “Brahma” and all other are the different names of a Single Personality or the Supreme Being. Once we realise this fact, we will be forced to think about the values of religious terrorism. If we think like this way, we can say that there is not having any values in our community for the religious terrorism. Once we realise all the religions originate from a common belief and all are worshiping a common God, we can create our world as a peaceful planet.

  7. With all due respect, Jesse, if you believe that I have an obligation to perform obeisance to your deity, by bowing my head and closing my eyes so that you can pray, then it is you who are intolerant. And again, Jesse, if you believe that I have some obligation to pretend to exhibit belief in your deity, or to follow the rules and laws of your religion, then it is you who are intolerant. Frankly speaking, Jesse, there is no topic of greater importance in our country today than the human rights of its inhabitants.

    Regarding education, it is freely available to those who desire it sufficiently. Of course, not all educational institutions provide equal quality, such that one’s options depend in part upon one’s motivation, and in part upon one’s willingness to engage in independent thought.

    Best Regards,

    John Ross

  8. Lamar

    Prayers at the beginning of council meetings do not run afoul of the Constitution. You cite one passage of an opinion from a district court in North Carolina, but largely ignore the holding of the United States Supreme Court in Marsh v. Chambers. The majority opinion held, “In light of the unambiguous and unbroken history of more than 200 years, there can be no doubt that the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society. To invoke Divine guidance on a public body entrusted with making the laws is not, in these circumstances, an “establishment” of religion or a step toward establishment; it is simply a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country.” To my knowledge, the Supreme Court has not backed off this core holding in the subsequent 30 years.

    As to your theological argument, I am glad you are reading, but I do not think you should cite scripture as a rhetorical tool to backstop your poor legal argument.

  9. To John:

    I am unable to find anywhere in my column where I said that all invocations (or prayers) at city council meetings violate the Constitution. There are circumstances when such prayers do violate the Constitution as understood and interpreted by the Supreme Court. I wrote mostly about sectarian prayers. Sectarian prayers do violate Marsh v. Chambers. The circumstances of Marsh are instructive.

    In 1983, the Supreme Court carved out a narrow exception that permits, but does not require, some legislative prayer. In Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983), the Supreme Court ruled that the Nebraska legislature’s tradition of opening with a prayer by a paid chaplain was constitutional. A Nebraska State Senator challenged the practice as violative of the Establishment Clause. In theory, legislative prayer remains constitutional. Nonetheless, such prayers must abide by the strict constraints found in the Marsh decision, which carved out a very narrow exception to the Establishment Clause, as well as acknowledging that Court doctrine gives a nod to history and custom.

    To be clear, however, the Court held that “Standing alone, historical patterns cannot justify contemporary violations of constitutional guarantees. . .” Marsh at 790. The Court determined that the circumstances found in the Nebraska Legislature’s invocation are a narrow exception to the prohibition against the government promoting religion or religious practice.

    If a legislative prayer exceeds the confines of the circumstances outlined in Marsh, then no such exception would apply. First and foremost, the prayer opportunity must not be “exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief.” Marsh at 794. This applies to the content of the prayers, the selection of the prayer leaders, be they clergy, representatives, or government officials, and the audience to whom the prayer is addressed.

    The audience in Marsh was construed as comprising only legislators, represented by the plaintiff, Sen. Ernie Chambers. The Court found that such an audience would not be “readily susceptible to ‘religious indoctrination.’” The Court found no “impermissible motive” in the appointment of the chaplain who led the prayers. Likewise, the Court found that, as the content of the prayers was both nonsectarian and non-denominational, although in the Judeo-Christian tradition, no attempt was being made to either proselytize or advance any one faith or belief, or to disparage any other. The Court took note that the chaplain had, in fact, previously determined to remove all references to Jesus Christ in his prayers. Ultimately, the Court dismissed the idea that legislative prayer poses any real, inherent threat to the Establishment Clause, barring circumstances other than those stipulated in Marsh.

    Also, I did not think that my scripture selection was a rhetorical tool. I intended it as a substantive condemnation of those who violate the admonition of Jesus. I say again that no one has attempted to explain how one can reconcile the admonition of Jesus about public prayer with what most of these Christian ministers are doing each meeting before the San Marcos City Council. I even consulted about it with a Christian religious scholar who is a friend of mine before finishing the column.

  10. John Ross,

    You have no obligation. Just sit there with a smile and wait for the prayer to end. It is you, sir, that are intolerant.

  11. In my visits to city council and county commissioners court meetings, I make it a point to be outside the two bodies’ respective chambers when they conduct their worship service — a category in which I include the Pledge of Allegiance. My amusement at their self-contradictory, idolatrous worship of both God and the State (or the vapid, abstract, and collectivist notion of an entity called “The Country”) is vastly outweighed by my disgust at seeing human beings disgrace themselves in a craven exhibition, a submission to phantoms, a victory for empty concepts over reason and empathy for flesh-and-blood human beings.

    “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” Denis Diderot

  12. “The funny thing about all this is that education has been in decline and social ills have been on the rise since religion has taken out of the public discussion.”

    “In decline,” really? Have they yet reached levels comparable to 20 years ago, or 100 years ago, or 500 years ago, or two thousand years ago? I would take the current Western cultural climate over those prevailing during any of the aforementioned time periods any day of the week. Women have won the right to not be raped by their husbands and can marry whom they wish, vote, own property, and choose whether or not to enter the workforce; the Abrahamic monotheistic/Pagan institutions of human slavery have finally been abolished in the West, and governments have, for the most part, granted people of color the same legal protections as whites; non-Christians now have equal protection under the law as Christians, etc. Funny that the more Western governments have ceased to endorse and enforce religion, the more that respect for human seems to have increased, so forgive me if I don’t shudder at the prospect of human societies becoming less religious.

  13. Ken – You should put down the crack pipe and pick up a book. There’s no sense in arguing with someone that is clearly emotionally unstable. What’s the matter? Did you have trouble making friends as a child?

  14. What a bunch of tedious, irrelevent nonsense! Any governmental body that invokes publicly the blessing of a divine being seeks to trick some portion of its constitutents to accept that its decisions to rip them off or otherwise screw them is somehow okay. Some miniscule number may actually believe that a prayer will guide them to wisdom. If an individual government official is of the persuasion that seeking divine guidance will help him make wiser decisions, he can pray silently, on his own without calling attention to his actions. In the other case, I urge everyone to guard his pocketbook.

  15. The environmental movement has morphed into a quasi-religious movement based on fear-mongering, misinformation, propaganda, and cult-like worship of the Earth. They are every bit as dangerous to our freedoms as the bible-beaters that want to make everyone subservient to their god.

    Fear them all! And yes, Bill, protect your pocketbooks!

  16. Interesting op-ed. It touches on a lot and whether a person agrees or disagrees they should think about what was said.

    As a non-Christian who has a faith, I feel very uncomfortable when in public venues where people of authority push their religious agenda. Even though the Constitution was designed to afford protection of belief systems unaffiliated with the mainstream, such protection has in reality been underwhelming.

    Indeed, history shows that almost exclusively a “state” religion is used to control the masses, and to reward the select few who are often founders of a movement or have inherited the position in some manner. After all, a state religion promotes ‘the divinely inspired social order’.

    What the leaders of many communities need to consider is that once their religious agendas have gone beyond a certain point, the people who feel threatened rather than served by their local governments will eventually defend themselves.

    As for tolerating one religion’s prayer in a public governance venue, I don’t see the point. If I attempted to worship in public it would be maybe five minutes before a member of law enforcement was there to ask what I was doing, if I had a permit, if I was trespassing, and if I was aware of the people complaining. If this can happen in my own yard then so much for communing with divinty while wearing the family tartan.

    Let government do the job it’s best at, screwing the public out of money to be squandered on lining the pockets of the rich. Let the religious factions meet on their own time as the government is costing me too much money as it is.

  17. I’ve attended far too many governmental meetings where the suplication was to one specific deity. Offended? Not really. Amused? Certainly not. I just wonder what Vishnu or Ra thinks about it.

  18. Cody, at least the environmental movement has something concrete to base their belief system on.

  19. Again, Jesse is mistaken. It is the normal and ordinary practice of clergy and their laity to order all non-believers present to perform obeisance by bowing their heads during prayer. This practice is intensely offensive, and it is not to be tolerated.

  20. Jesse wrote…

    “What harm is a simple prayer doing to you? So you don’t like hearing it. Get over it.”

    Jesse,

    If you were present at a function that involved an invocation that was not consistent with your faith, maybe even diametrically opposed to it, would you tolerate it in the same manner that you are expecting others to when it is prayers from your faith that are given?

    Would it be acceptable to you for an authority figure, let alone a government official, to tell you to “get over it?”

    I beg of you to treat others the way you would wish to be treated (and that applies to myself as well.)

    Show others the same respect that you ask or demand for yourself.

  21. Winchester, you said, “…at least the environmental movement has something concrete to base their belief system on.”

    Have you been living under a rock? We have recently learned that all their data was manipulated and/or fabricated, legitimate critics in the scientific community were silenced, and baseless stories of melting glaciers, rising sea levels, etc were nothing more than a hoax.

    Sorry, friend, but the environmental movement, the warm-mongers, have been exposed. Denial of this is unhealthy for you and makes you seem even more like an extremist. To believe in man-made global warming NOW takes a blind leap of faith…does that terminology sound family?

    Here’s something to read so you can catch up…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1254660/Climategate-professor-Phil-Jones-admits-sending-pretty-awful-emails.html

    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=522575

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7046036.ece

    http://www.examiner.com/x-37620-Conservative-Examiner~y2010m3d2-BreakingClimategate-researcher-says-hiding-facts-standard-procedure

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/al_latest_global_warming_whopper_TolFbG2ccT5XPtKtXoOx0L

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=207f77ef-802a-23ad-4b5b-0622bba3da4a&Issue_id=

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/theories_facts_and_denialism.html

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100029145/how-the-british-establishment-is-conspiring-to-prop-up-the-agw-myth/

  22. Jesse, you’ve inferred from what I’ve said that I’m emotionally unstable and possibly a drug addict. Without reciprocating with an ad hominen attack of my own, I will say that I infer from your words that you are someone believes in non-existent entities and is probably willing to sacrifice human beings on their altars; someone who is willing to, in the name of God, country, or of “the common good,” steal property and wash the land in blood. I can also infer from your words that your style of argumentation is more appropriate to the elementary school playground than it is here.

    “I didn’t know that ‘clergy’ were leading prayer in city council meetings? I was under the impression that it was lead by city council members and/or citizen attendees. I too would be bothered by members of a church clergy leading pray at a city council meeting as that would be the promotion of specific denomination.”

    The commissioners court and city council meetings are archived online, and you can see there that clergy indeed lead some, if not most, of the prayers. Of course, that’s not the root of the problem as I see it, but thanks for showing at least a particle of restraint when it comes to shoving your faith-based concepts in the faces of the few who take the time to pay attention to what their “leaders” are doing.

  23. Cody, my friend it was a joke. Concrete/environmentalists, get it. But not in the philosophical context as environmentalists have plants, oceans, animals, geology where as faiths have, well, faith and that’s about it.

    At least pagans have wind water air & fire.

  24. And thanks for thinking of me as an extremist (even if there is nothing in the least extreme in any post on this thread) because there is nothing in the middle of the road except yellow stripes and dead armadillos.

  25. Jesse- It must be fate that brought us together! You write’ “Why is it that atheist are the most intolerant people? What harm is a simple prayer doing to you?” Chuck, chuck Thor!!!

    My children have experienced first hand the prejudice against those trying to praise their God in the public schools. How many ‘Unsatisfactories’ can a child receive in Citizenship without their self-esteem plummeting into the bowels of Fasgurda? (That was a rhetorical question.) My family embrace and want to join you in fighting to bring prayer back into the public schools AND keep it in public meetings! Our religion (Thorism) demands that we sing his praises in thundering voices every 90 minutes (due to his nine steps falling).

    Jesse, please include our prayer on your prayer list of acceptable prayers to be prayed in school and government meetings:

    (To the tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider, but in a LOUD thundering voice)
    Thor, Thor, the thundering God
    He wields the mighty
    Mjollnir. (Both fists in air)
    Even on the cloudy days
    His bolts keep us from harm.(Hug self)
    When the non-believers
    Scorn and burn in Fasgurda. (Stomp twice)
    I will be safe
    In his home of Bilskirnir. (Kneel down on right knee, close eyes)
    Amen. (Softly)

    Chuck, chuck Thor. God bless you. Shalom.

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