An Exercise in Mixing Church and State

When I first heard of the Supreme Court ruling concerning prayer last week, I wondered how long the “HOORAYS!” would last before someone stepped up to challenge it. Tony Perkins article at Charisma was typical of all the celebrating going on after the courts decision:

Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling wasn’t just an answer on prayer—it was an answer to prayer! In what experts are calling one of the biggest religious liberty wins in the last half-century, the court gave its blessing on an American tradition more than 200 years old: legislative prayer. In cities across America, secular activists have come to legal blows with dozens of local governments over the freedom to open meetings with a prayer, recognizing the Author of our liberty.

And while they may have scared the prayers out of some city councils, the town of Greece, New York, refused to be one of them. After a lengthy tug-of-war, the case finally landed at the steps of the Supreme Court, where the justices ruled 5-4 to continue a practice as old as the nation itself. For as long as anyone can remember, Greece had allowed any citizen of any religion (or lack thereof) to kick off the meetings with prayer. And while the policy was wholly inclusive, Christian prayers were the most popular. Despite the town’s efforts to recruit other faith groups, only four of the 127 invocations were offered by non-Christians. (Tony Perkins: Family Research Council, more here)

Well, ‘hooray’ this Perkins, and all you folks out there who fight so hard to unite Church and State;

The Supreme Court decided recently that prayer is permitted before town council meetings in a case out of Greece, NY. But that means any religion, not just the Christian religion.

Well, a Florida man has decided to exercise this right the Supreme Court has given towns across the United States by asking the town of Deerfield Beach, Florida to open their meetings with a Satanic prayer. Wait, that’s not what conservatives meant when they said “religious freedom”?

Chaz Stevens, who is known for forcing Florida to erect an 8-foot-tall Festivus pole made of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans next to the town’s nativity scene, has essentially put the town in the precarious position of either allowing a satanic prayer to be said before one of the town’s meetings or violating the Supreme Court’s ruling pertaining to this issue. Stevens said, “I just want equal billing. We allow various religious nutjobs to give a prayer. They pray to Jesus who is make-believe, god who is make-believe, why not Satan who is make-believe?” (Florida Town Must Decide: Allow Satanic Prayer or Violate Supreme Court)

And this is only the beginning…



10 comments on “An Exercise in Mixing Church and State

  1. I honestly don’t see the problem with opening on a prayer. if it doesnt actually hinder peopels liberty, why is it an issue?

    • You may be missing the point zarove. It isn’t a matter of prayer being a problem, it’s when we use the government to issue laws and decrees concerning faith matters, such as prayer, that we get into sticky territory.

      What many of those who scream, rant, and rave, about “religious freedom” fail to understand is when they push for laws to be instituted granting “their freedom”, it also opens the door for any and all other groups and people, to use this same law in order to “exercise” their religious freedom as well. For instance, this city council, in Greece, New York, may believe they have won the battle–but now they’ll not have a legal leg to stand on if a satanist decides he/she wants to open a council meeting with prayer to satan. Legally, they’ll have to comply. So, did they really ‘win’ anything?

      Prayer, which for me as a Christian, is a sacred conversation with God. I don’t “need” to be heard by man to pray to my God. This, sadly is not the case for many Christians today…here in the west: they pray to be seen and heard. And use prayer as a political tool.

  2. PJ,

    That’s the reality of this sort of ruling. Here in my community we have a Christian woman suing our City Council to prohibit ALL manner of invocations to prevent atheists and non Christian religions or cults from praying opening council meetings. The irony for my community here is she and the mayor attend the same fellowship!

    • Amen Michael, it is the reality. Makes you wonder if these folks in New York really understood what they were opening the door up to.

      (Michael, i sent you an important email)

  3. Oh haha! I live just 8 miles south of Deerfield Beach. Didn’t know about this. I don’t have cable. Don’t you just love the good ol USA? Sadly, this dude is right as far as the law. People need to be careful what they wish for. Oops. I mean pray for.

    • Amen Micey! After the ruling by the Supreme Court, i knew we’d start seeing stuff like this guy wanting to offer up a satanic prayer. Any thinking individual should have expected it!

      We’re not going to have laws (concerning “freedoms”) for Christians only. Though i know this is what folks like Perkins want…

  4. “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:5-6 NKJV

  5. Of course the constitutional problem that the courts face is the obvious fact that the Masonic Deists who established this country themselves mixed a lot of prayer into their political doings. The result is a long tradition of ceremonial prayer at various public gatherings. But we, as Christians, have to see the difference between ceremonial prayer that is part of American culture and biblical prayer, a difference that Steve pointed out very eloquently in his scripture quote in the above post. I have no great problem with ceremonial prayer AS LONG AS it is recognized as being ceremonial prayer. There is something a little bit dishonest about trying to co-opt ceremonial prayer at the city council meeting in an attempt to reach out for the lost. These prayers are largely just “feel good” prayers that reassure us that we are looking to God for guidance for our communities and nation. And I see nothing wrong with that as long as we see them for what they are. Unfortunately, a lot of believers seemingly don’t get that and don’t seem to understand the difference between the city council meeting and the church meeting. It is obvious these prayers are going to continue and the best course of action is to model them around those vapid templates handed down by the Deists or stay clear of them altogether. For sure the Satanists are going to get their shot at it eventually as are all the rests from the Mormons to the Muslims. Our country has changed a lot since the fathers founded it, and that factor has resulted in some growing pains. But that will actually be a blessing if it finally forces us to see reality and not continue the “founded as a Christian nation” fantasy.

    • But that will actually be a blessing if it finally forces us to see reality and not continue the “founded as a Christian nation” fantasy.

      George, i believe that is really what all this is about; the fighting for prayer prior to these meetings, etc. It’s the crazy belief that ‘if’ open public prayer is enacted at these meetings it is suppose to be some kind of proof of our being a Christian nation.

      I was reading a story today concerning Republican Al Bedrosian,

      It was just one year ago that Al Bedrosian was a Republican running for a seat on the Roanoke County, Virginia Board of Supervisors. Prior to that, Bedrosian had authored an article for the Roanoke Times in which he talked about how this country was not only a Christian nation, but one where non-Christians should not be allowed to worship at all…

      At the time, Bedrosian said that if he were elected, he planned to recite all sorts of Christian prayers at Board meetings and would work to put the Ten Commandments in the county’s public schools.
      Turns out he was elected. And after (the recent) Supreme Court decision, he has big plans for Board prayers — and they don’t include people who aren’t Christian

      “We are a Christian nation. We’re not a Muslim nation,” Bedrosian said. “The Founding Fathers, they knew about Islam. When they came to America, they wanted the freedom to worship, but not the freedom to worship the devil, or Muhammad.”

      Bedrosian said, “The freedom of religion doesn’t mean that every religion has to be heard. If we allow everything, where do you draw the line?”

      Virginia Official Who Wants Christian Public Prayer Refuses To Stand For Non-Christian Prayer

      The story is actually about his refusal to stand when a non-Christian prayed at a recent meeting, but i wanted to post this section to just point out this belief of our being a Christian nation playing a huge part in this “fighting for our freedom” to pray.

      As this guy pointedly says, “we are a Christian nation”….so, the so-called freedom to pray this guy (or any of the other people like him) are really fighting for, isn’t for all people to freely practice their faith/religion, for as he said “The freedom of religion doesn’t mean that every religion has to be heard…….”

      What they are really fighting is a war to turn America into a theocracy.

      He asked, “If you allow everything, where do you draw the line?”–well, thats a good question, but sorry, thats the can of worms you open up when you start getting the government involved, as was done recently by the Supreme Courts ruling. Somehow these nuts seem to think that this newest ruling only concerned Christian prayer. What they don’t understand is rulings like the one recently passed down, concern and apply to ALL Americans, not just Christians. This is why i say what they really want is for America to become a theocracy.

      Like you, i have no problem with public prayer in public gatherings like the one’s we’re talking about. But if it was ‘just’ praying these folks were concerned about, what’s wrong with everyone in these meetings (who desires to) silently praying? But thats the problem, they’re not really interested in real prayer, they only want to make an open show of it, to prove something which they believe but which isn’t true: that America is a Christian nation.

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