Saturday, November 21, 2009

Prayer at Meetings in Columbia, SC

There was recently an article about the issue of starting city council meetings with prayer in Columbia City, South Carolina. If you are a reader of this blog or have watched controversies over prayer in various news outlets, you can probably imagine the issues raised by the opponents. In common with most of these cases is that mention of our so-called "separation of church and state." That phrase is supposed to describe the meaning of the First Amendment's religious establish clause.

However, a brief look back at the actions of the very founders who created/ratified the First Amendment reveal that they did NOT interpret it that way? Did they not know what they wrote? Or do current courts misinterpret the words?

The founders who created this document also started the official meetings with prayer. In some cases the prayer stretched for hours. In those days, prayers in these settings were almost certainly Christian. Today we try to more sensitive to other religions, and many like to use prayers that are so exclusive. In any case, being sensitive is not mandated by the Constitution. The Congress at that time wrote a document that would keep the Federal government from establishing an official religion that others are forced to follow. Some interpret the 14th Amendment to require the same of state governments. It is difficult to image that the Constitution or Amendments address a city from establishing a religion. And it is a longer reach to think that opening a meeting with [even a] Christian prayer is establishing an official religion. Surely the founders did not think a Christian prayer in the U.S. Congress was an establishment of religion. And the city council of any city should not think so either.

Read the article here (links do not always work on this site - you may need to do a site search for "prayer" to find it):

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