Wednesday, May 07, 2014

SCOTUS Got It Wrong (again)

It's no suprise that I'm not a fan of the current SCOTUS.  Indeed, I think they've made one bad decision after another.  As a Baptist, their latest one really irked me.  The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty had filed a friend of the court brief opposing the town of Greece, NY's practice of beginning municipal meetings with prayer, almost exclusively with Christian content. 

I have to admit that I'm more than a little surprised at the support the ruling has received from many right of center Christians.  Justice Kennedy in his opinion repeatedly refers to the prayers as "ceremonial." As a person of faith, my prayers are never ceremonial.  To make them such is to denigrate them and lessen their importance.  On the other hand, to allow me to pray as I truly believe and to give that prayer the place I believe it deserves must by definition offend the conscience of some people.  Also, as a Baptist who believes in Soul Liberty, I believe it is never the place of government to endorse any particular religious belief whether I believe it or not.  All this ruling does is domesticate real faith and force it into the service of civil religion.  For what it is worth, I do not believe that the meetings of Congress should begin with a prayer either.

Back in '07 a Hindu priest, Rajan Zed, offered a prayer in the Senate and this is what happened...

I have to say that I found Zed's prayer less offensive than the prayers shouted by the protestors but I do agree that he should not have been praying publicly.  Of course, they should not either.  And that leads to the second point.  The government cannot stop them or me from praying silently any time or any place we choose including government buildings or meetings.  Those prayers that I have spoken silently at city council meetings were real prayers about real issues and not merely ceremonial ones.

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