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Author Topic: Prayer and Religion in Public Life  (Read 37534 times)
Beach Bum
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« on: April 12, 2007, 11:04:07 AM »

I had an eventful day yesterday.  Attended and participated in a number of meetings with different organizations/entities.  Most of these meetings involved prayer:

1.  Honolulu City Council Session:  It began with a devotional and prayer by a local pastor.  The City Council members are overwhelmingly liberal Democrat (about 8 out of 9).  I was very surprised.   

2.  State Government Entity:  Attended a meeting that did not include prayer.  I would have fallen off of my chair.   Smiley 

3.  Nonproft Religious Entity:  The meeting began and ended with prayer.  I was asked to give the closing prayer (I hate doing that.)  These prayers were expected. 

4.  Professional Society:  Attended an annual dinner of professionals.  Not a religious group at all.  The meeting began with a prayer.  The room was overwhelming liberal.

What struck me was what an integral part prayer is in our public life.  I bet the ACLU disapproves.  (Sorry, couldn't resist.   Smiley)   
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Decker
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2007, 11:12:25 AM »

I had an eventful day yesterday.  Attended and participated in a number of meetings with different organizations/entities.  Most of these meetings involved prayer:

1.  Honolulu City Council Session:  It began with a devotional and prayer by a local pastor.  The City Council members are overwhelmingly liberal Democrat (about 8 out of 9).  I was very surprised.   

2.  State Government Entity:  Attended a meeting that did not include prayer.  I would have fallen off of my chair.   Smiley 

3.  Nonproft Religious Entity:  The meeting began and ended with prayer.  I was asked to give the closing prayer (I hate doing that.)  These prayers were expected. 

4.  Professional Society:  Attended an annual dinner of professionals.  Not a religious group at all.  The meeting began with a prayer.  The room was overwhelming liberal.

What struck me was what an integral part prayer is in our public life.  I bet the ACLU disapproves.  (Sorry, couldn't resist.   Smiley)   
Nonsense about the ACLU BeachBum.  We just can't have government proselytizing the people or paying for any religious idols. 

It is a free country.  Pray to your heart's content.
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Beach Bum
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2007, 11:16:03 AM »

Nonsense about the ACLU BeachBum.  We just can't have government proselytizing the people or paying for any religious idols. 

It is a free country.  Pray to your heart's content.

I was kidding about the ACLU.

I agree the government shouldn't be proselytizing. 

It's not just that this is a free country, it's that faith is really interwoven throughout our society, both in the public and private sectors.  It was fascinating to see this at play yesterday. 
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Decker
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2007, 11:21:29 AM »

I was kidding about the ACLU.

I agree the government shouldn't be proselytizing. 

It's not just that this is a free country, it's that faith is really interwoven throughout our society, both in the public and private sectors.  It was fascinating to see this at play yesterday. 
I know that I can sound like a humorless dickhead on these boards.  I try not to be. 

I know what you mean about watching religion at play in our society. 
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2007, 11:33:11 AM »

I'm pretty secular..and as a catholic..I get pretty "itchy" I guess when the evengelicals start pushing their agenda. I don't have aproblem with the prayers as u descibed them. Not sure it has any place in schools, however if a town or city, especially in the south is all pretty christian and folks vote for it, then I guess its not a big deal. That said...if the damm rags wanna where full on man dresses and burka's..its gotta be even on both sides. Head scarves sure..but they go to far.
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2007, 11:48:42 AM »

I know that I can sound like a humorless dickhead on these boards.  I try not to be. 


Not at all.  I'm just a goof.  I'm the one who keeps a fake cockroach in my office drawer that I have planted around the office more than once.   Smiley  I live in a house full of kids and I'm an overgrown kid myself (according to my kids).  A lot of what I say is tongue in cheek. 
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Colossus_500
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2007, 12:24:04 PM »

I had an eventful day yesterday.  Attended and participated in a number of meetings with different organizations/entities.  Most of these meetings involved prayer:

1.  Honolulu City Council Session:  It began with a devotional and prayer by a local pastor.  The City Council members are overwhelmingly liberal Democrat (about 8 out of 9).  I was very surprised.   

2.  State Government Entity:  Attended a meeting that did not include prayer.  I would have fallen off of my chair.   Smiley 

3.  Nonproft Religious Entity:  The meeting began and ended with prayer.  I was asked to give the closing prayer (I hate doing that.)  These prayers were expected. 

4.  Professional Society:  Attended an annual dinner of professionals.  Not a religious group at all.  The meeting began with a prayer.  The room was overwhelming liberal.

What struck me was what an integral part prayer is in our public life.  I bet the ACLU disapproves.  (Sorry, couldn't resist.   Smiley)   

And the ACLU claims to not have an agenda against Christianity.   Roll Eyes  Gimme a break!  You're so right, bro.  The ACLU's beef is not with religion per se, but more specifically against Christianity. 
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OzmO
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2007, 12:28:29 PM »

Here's what's happening:


We are confusing a defense lawyer's job of defending a criminal with the assumption the Defense lawyers supports the criminal.

That's what why some of us say the ACLU is fighting Christianity.

They are not fighting it.  They are protecting our rights and not allowing a religious organization to  influence the country through or in the government.
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Colossus_500
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2007, 12:33:36 PM »

Here's what's happening:


We are confusing a defense lawyer's job of defending a criminal with the assumption the Defense lawyers supports the criminal.

That's what why some of us say the ACLU is fighting Christianity.

They are not fighting it.  They are protecting our rights and not allowing a religious organization to  influence the country through or in the government.
Then why are there so many lawsuits like the one in New Mexico for city named after the "Three Crosses", or the military gravesite that has the cross on it?  Or how about the frivolous lawsuits all over the country being threatened if a building/city doesn't take down their cross, or the schools that have "Easter" or "Christmas" parties?  You can see where I might come up with the notion that they are out to do away with anything that has to do with Christianity.  Yes?
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Decker
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2007, 12:43:31 PM »

Then why are there so many lawsuits like the one in New Mexico for city named after the "Three Crosses", or the military gravesite that has the cross on it?  Or how about the frivolous lawsuits all over the country being threatened if a building/city doesn't take down their cross, or the schools that have "Easter" or "Christmas" parties?  You can see where I might come up with the notion that they are out to do away with anything that has to do with Christianity.  Yes?
B/c Christians wrongly assume that, since the US is a Christian Country, christians should be able to use government to further the ends of the Christian religion.

Sorry for the 'mind-reading' but I'm paraphrasing why these cases arise.
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OzmO
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« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2007, 12:47:42 PM »

Then why are there so many lawsuits like the one in New Mexico for city named after the "Three Crosses", or the military gravesite that has the cross on it?  Or how about the frivolous lawsuits all over the country being threatened if a building/city doesn't take down their cross, or the schools that have "Easter" or "Christmas" parties?  You can see where I might come up with the notion that they are out to do away with anything that has to do with Christianity.  Yes?

I certainly do, i can see that. 

 Those are clearly a case of things going to far and are a big waste of time and money when there are clearly bigger fish to fry.


But they aren't intentionally trying to do away with anything "Christian"  they are just trying to keep organized religion out of government. If it was a school Passover party and someone protested the ACLU probably would get involved also.   

Are these law suits filled by the ACLU on behalf of a private party or are they filled by the ACLU solely or by a private party solely?
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Decker
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« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2007, 01:05:52 PM »

I certainly do, i can see that. 

 Those are clearly a case of things going to far and are a big waste of time and money when there are clearly bigger fish to fry.


But they aren't intentionally trying to do away with anything "Christian"  they are just trying to keep organized religion out of government. If it was a school Passover party and someone protested the ACLU probably would get involved also.   

Are these law suits filled by the ACLU on behalf of a private party or are they filled by the ACLU solely or by a private party solely?
You write well.  Generally the ACLU writes an amicus brief (friend of the court) on someone else's behalf to make sure that a plaintiff's liberties are well represented.  The ACLU has been plaintiff in cases versus the Justice Department, NSA etc.
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Colossus_500
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« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2007, 01:18:58 PM »

I certainly do, i can see that. 

 Those are clearly a case of things going to far and are a big waste of time and money when there are clearly bigger fish to fry.


But they aren't intentionally trying to do away with anything "Christian"  they are just trying to keep organized religion out of government. If it was a school Passover party and someone protested the ACLU probably would get involved also.   

Are these law suits filled by the ACLU on behalf of a private party or are they filled by the ACLU solely or by a private party solely?
But don't you see how they are going after rights that have been set up for us as Americans?  Here are some questions that we are left with then:

"what should be the relationship between religion and public life?" Does the public expression of religious conviction necessarily infringe upon the religious liberty of another? Does the restriction of religious practice to the private sphere undermine free exercise? What degree of neutrality should our government observe?"
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Colossus_500
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« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2007, 01:22:55 PM »

I certainly do, i can see that. 

 Those are clearly a case of things going to far and are a big waste of time and money when there are clearly bigger fish to fry.


But they aren't intentionally trying to do away with anything "Christian"  they are just trying to keep organized religion out of government. If it was a school Passover party and someone protested the ACLU probably would get involved also.   

Are these law suits filled by the ACLU on behalf of a private party or are they filled by the ACLU solely or by a private party solely?
The lawsuits are generally filed on behalf of sub-agencies or local chapters of the ACLU. 
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Beach Bum
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« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2007, 01:23:30 PM »

But don't you see how they are going after rights that have been set up for us as Americans?  Here are some questions that we are left with then:

"what should be the relationship between religion and public life?" Does the public expression of religious conviction necessarily infringe upon the religious liberty of another? Does the restriction of religious practice to the private sphere undermine free exercise? What degree of neutrality should our government observe?"


Good quote.  This is one of the problems  I have with the ACLU.  They are attempting to cleanse the public sector of all religious expression.  
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Colossus_500
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« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2007, 01:26:08 PM »

I'm quoting the decision from a 1981 court hearing:

Widmar v. Vincent

454 U.S. 263 (1981)

Facts of the Case:
The University of Missouri at Kansas City ruled that its facilities could not be used by student groups “for purposes of religious worship or religious teaching.” The school believed that the action was required under the Establishment Clause. A student religious group that had previously been permitted to use the facilities sued the school after being informed of the change in policy. They asserted that their First Amendment rights to religious free exercise and free speech were being violated.


Decision:
The Court ruled that the Establishment Clause did not require state universities to limit access to their facilities by religious organizations.

Majority Opinion: (Justice Powell)
Because the University has generally permitted its facilities to be used by student organizations, it must demonstrate that its restrictions are constitutionally permitted. An equal access policy would not necessarily violate the Establishment Clause. The three-pronged Lemon Test would not be violated by such a policy. It would have a secular legislative purpose and not foster excessive government entanglement. The third part, that the policy’s primary effect would advance religion, is what the University claimed. “...this Court has explained that a religious organization's enjoyment of merely "incidental" benefits does not violate the prohibition against the "primary advancement" of religion.” Any such benefits at UMKC would be incidental. The state does not necessarily approve of all groups who use the open forum, and the forum is open to non-religious as well as religious groups.

Significance:
This decision ensured greater access to public facilities by religious organizations. The state was not assumed to be in support of all messages that were communicated in their facilities.
 
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Decker
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« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2007, 01:44:36 PM »

I'm quoting the decision from a 1981 court hearing:

Widmar v. Vincent

454 U.S. 263 (1981)

Facts of the Case:
The University of Missouri at Kansas City ruled that its facilities could not be used by student groups “for purposes of religious worship or religious teaching.” The school believed that the action was required under the Establishment Clause. A student religious group that had previously been permitted to use the facilities sued the school after being informed of the change in policy. They asserted that their First Amendment rights to religious free exercise and free speech were being violated.


Decision:
The Court ruled that the Establishment Clause did not require state universities to limit access to their facilities by religious organizations.

Majority Opinion: (Justice Powell)
Because the University has generally permitted its facilities to be used by student organizations, it must demonstrate that its restrictions are constitutionally permitted. An equal access policy would not necessarily violate the Establishment Clause. The three-pronged Lemon Test would not be violated by such a policy. It would have a secular legislative purpose and not foster excessive government entanglement. The third part, that the policy’s primary effect would advance religion, is what the University claimed. “...this Court has explained that a religious organization's enjoyment of merely "incidental" benefits does not violate the prohibition against the "primary advancement" of religion.” Any such benefits at UMKC would be incidental. The state does not necessarily approve of all groups who use the open forum, and the forum is open to non-religious as well as religious groups.

Significance:
This decision ensured greater access to public facilities by religious organizations. The state was not assumed to be in support of all messages that were communicated in their facilities.
 

Since the ACLU is not a plaintiff in this case, do you have access to the brief it filed.
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« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2007, 01:46:23 PM »

Good quote.  This is one of the problems  I have with the ACLU.  They are attempting to cleanse the public sector of all religious expression.  
Only where government funded places are concerned.  Private property owners are pretty much free to do as they please.
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Colossus_500
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« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2007, 01:54:28 PM »

Since the ACLU is not a plaintiff in this case, do you have access to the brief it filed.
No, they aren't the plaintiff in this particular case, but it does speak to the argument that you and Ozmo have been trying to give with regard to keeping organized religion out of government.  These liberties that you claim the ACLU fights for (and I agree, there was a day that the ACLU stood for rights of all people, but that's no longer true...grant me that much) are available to Christians as well.  And what we are seeing day after day now is a fight to trample the same liberties that belong to Christians.  I specify Christianity because I don't see the ACLU arguing cases against any other religion.
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« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2007, 02:17:51 PM »

No, they aren't the plaintiff in this particular case, but it does speak to the argument that you and Ozmo have been trying to give with regard to keeping organized religion out of government.  These liberties that you claim the ACLU fights for (and I agree, there was a day that the ACLU stood for rights of all people, but that's no longer true...grant me that much) are available to Christians as well.  And what we are seeing day after day now is a fight to trample the same liberties that belong to Christians.  I specify Christianity because I don't see the ACLU arguing cases against any other religion.
What do the cases generally have in common.  Christian groups try to assert their religion on gov. property or proselytize w/ gov. resources.  That can't happen.

"Was it an attack on Christianity or Judaism when the ACLU fought for Jerry Falwell and against the City of Lynchburg when the latter tried to restrict how much land Falwell could buy for his church? Was it an attack on Christianity or Judaism when the ACLU fought for the right of an anti-abortion group to show anti-abortion films in local schools after hours? Was it an attack on Christianity or Judaism when the ACLU fought for the rights of students to include biblical verses in their high school year books?" http://atheism.about.com/b/a/117245.htm?terms=aclu+stand

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« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2007, 02:19:54 PM »

"The ACLU has consistently defended the rights of Christians to worship as their religion and conscience dictates, often against the attempts by other Christians to infringe upon those rights by having certain forms of Christianity privileged by the government. The ACLU has also consistently fought against the privileging of any one religion or any one sect over others. Why? Because when one religion or sect is privileged, all suffer. That's what the separation of church and state is all about..." Ibid
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Colossus_500
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« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2007, 02:25:52 PM »

What do the cases generally have in common.  Christian groups try to assert their religion on gov. property or proselytize w/ gov. resources.  That can't happen.
What does the lawsuit of the city of Las Cruces New Mexico have to do with Christian groups???  It's the name of a city, dude!  Same thing with the Mt. Soledad Cross.  There's no correlation.  I appreciate the fact that you're trying to stand up for the ACLU.  And again, they used to be a worthy opponent, but we're no longer hearing about these cases.
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« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2007, 02:28:19 PM »

i remember when they were going after the yankees,, because during the 7th inning they have a prayer for the soldiers each game.. george steinbrenor basically said fuck off its a private business
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« Reply #23 on: April 12, 2007, 02:29:59 PM »

Here's my point exactly:

Freedom Fighters
Department of Justice ramps up efforts to enforce the First Amendment.
Brad. A. Greenberg | posted 4/11/2007 08:32AM


In the five years before President Bush took office, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reviewed one education discrimination complaint involving religion and investigated none. In the six years since, 82 cases were reviewed and 40 investigated.

Now the Bush administration wants to enhance those efforts with greater governmental resources. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced at a Southern Baptist leaders' meeting in February that the DOJ was launching the First Freedom Project, an initiative to further combat religious discrimination and protect religious freedom.

"One of the great strengths of America is the fact we are a nation of tolerance. We respect different viewpoints; we respect different beliefs," Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney general for civil rights, told CT. "That separates us from a lot of other nations. When we do this work to protect against religious discrimination, we strengthen America. And we do so in a way that is nondenominational."

The initiative will include the Religious Freedom Task Force, chaired by Kim, which will employ various divisions of the DOJ to review discrimination complaints. The new www.firstfreedom.gov website touts previous successes, educates Americans about their rights, and provides a channel for filing complaints online. The department also will hold a series of regional training seminars. Events have been scheduled for Tampa on April 25 and Seattle on May 10.

Even before the First Freedom Project, the DOJ's stepped-up efforts have generated greater religious freedom, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Government lawyers convinced a federal court last year that a New Jersey school had unconstitutionally censored a Christian song from a talent show. The DOJ compelled the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2005 to accommodate religious beliefs, even if it meant bus drivers wouldn't work certain days.

The First Freedom Project comes at a time when concern about religious persecution has heightened. Between 1992 and 2005, religious-discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission jumped 69 percent.

Given the Bush administration's ties to religious conservatives, some experts greeted the initiative with skepticism.

"They need to reach out to many different constituencies that have different approaches to church-state issues to give people confidence this will be a straightforward educational project and not a political battering ram," said Melissa Rogers, visiting professor of religion and public policy at Wake Forest University Divinity School. "[The unveiling] sends the opposite signals."

But Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, said the Bush administration has a track record of defending religious minorities.

"It is unfortunate we are so polarized today that we can't even acknowledge opportunities where we can agree," Haynes said. "Just because it is coming out of the Bush administration, some people decide it has to be condemned completely and labeled a fake and a fraud and that the work being done to protect religious minorities doesn't matter. Well, it does matter to Muslims and Sikhs and Hindus and Jews. Whether you are on the Right or the Left, this is exactly the kind of Justice Department you should want. This is exactly what we want them to be doing to protect religious freedom."

Copyright © 2007 Christianity Today.
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Colossus_500
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« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2007, 02:30:56 PM »

i remember when they were going after the yankees,, because during the 7th inning they have a prayer for the soldiers each game.. george steinbrenor basically said fuck off its a private business
hats off to george!   Cheesy
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