Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Court Says How We Can Pray

In North Carolina, the Forsyth County Commission has a tradition of opening meetings with a prayer. Often the prayer is Christian, although no specific words are specified. It depends on who is doing the praying.

But a court said that are violating the First Amendment when they do this. To remind you, the Amendment addresses religion in the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"

That's it. That's all it says. So for the judge to protest, he was relying on the first half of that phrase (Establishment Clause). The article about this conflict points out that there is no written-out prayer specified. The person doing the praying is the one responsible for the words. How can that be equated with creating a law that establishes a particular religion? It can't, but courts have said that government may not even endorse, or appear to endorse, a particular religion. (I must have missed that part in the quote above.)

And what about the free exercise clause? If you invite someone to pray, which apparently is allowed by the judge, is it not limiting their free exercise (or free speech, another part of the First Amendment) to specify what they can and can not say? Did our founders intend that courts will tell anyone how to pray? One can not read the founders' words and think that.

Read more here:

Forsyth County commissioner prayer ruled unconstitutional; Buncombe next?

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