Monday, September 28, 2009

Prayer Regulations in Tracy, California

Once again we see that theWisconsin-based nonprofit Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc., (FFRF) is pressuring a city council to change their practice of opening meetings with prayer. In this case the city is Tracy, CA. FFRF is specifically asking them "to discontinue invocations that reference Christianity."

FFRF often uses Thomas Jefferson's metaphor about the First Amendment, "separation of church and state," to justify their goals. That phrase was used by Jefferson rarely, but he frequently used the phrase "freedom of religion" in discussing the First Amendment. A national group dictating to local groups how they may pray (under implied threat of a costly court battle) seems to go against freedom of religion.

In a previous post I wrote the following:

Why do we as a culture seem to think that we need to solve these problems by going to court and (mis-) quoting the Constitution? The whole idea behind the founding of the U.S. Government was to keep power from becoming too centralized. Certainly the establishment clause is not meant to limit a city council. And the free exercise clause addresses that fact that citizens have a right to worship freely; hearing a prayer from any other religion at a council meeting does not limit my freedom to worship.

In fact, to say that the leader can not pray the way he/she wishes could be considered an un-Constitutional restriction of an individual's rights, which the First Amendment does address. Such a prayer is not (in my opinion) a "worship event" - it is just a call for guidance, prayed in a manner most comfortable to the person praying. I'm a Christian, but if I hear a prayer from another religion to God asking for guidance, I am all for it. Godly guidance is good! Many city councils could probably use more of that.

Read the news item here.


Secular Humanist said...

You really got to read these article before you post anything. You say it is the AU who is engaged in this action with cities in California. Actually the Wisconsin based group is Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and not AU. Gives you more weight if you actually report things correctly, don't you think?

History Matters said...

S.H. - I typed much of this just on the fly and simply confused AU with FFRF. I confess they tend to run together in my head because they often wind up fighting very similar battles. Thanks for catching it.