So let’s put it all together and state that traditions and customs can often be oppressive such as those promoting one religious belief over another, promoting heterosexual marriage over same sex marriage, legalizing slavery, allowing men but not women to vote, allowing only men owning property to vote, cannibalism, foot-binding and suttee. And speaking of founding fathers:
“A long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.” Thomas Paine; Common Sense, 1776
And many of the Founding Fathers were far, far from being god fearing persons. At least Justice Hagan made that point when she pointed out that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison took pains to keep sectarian language away from public life. “The demand for neutrality among religions is not a product of 21st century ‘political correctness,’ ” she wrote, “but of the 18th century view.”
Although there were four justices in the dissenting opinion, we cannot take any consolation from their statements. Every single justice, including the authors of both dissents, is heartily in favor of allowing federal, state, and local government bodies to launch their meetings with a prayer. See a brilliant Humanist comment on this point by Luis Granados. Finally, let’s ask the key question: What would motivate all 9, highly educated Justices to accept prayer at government meetings, a few Justices suggesting some kind of rotation of the invocation among religious sects? This still sounds unconstitutional and a recipe for hate, riots and tyranny.
Is their motivation simply their personal religious bias as suggested above? Politicians clad in fine robes? Or are they simply placating those persons of one religious belief over another? Fear of the majority reaction? As pounded out above–THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT ALLOW THE MAJORITY TO DETERMINE CERTAIN “INALIENABLE” RIGHTS. GOVERNMENT PROMOTING ONE RELIGIOUS BELIEF OR ANY RELIGIOUS BELIEF IS NOT SOMETHING WE VOTE ON!
Again, as so often happens, the court leaves many critical questions unanswered and no doubt more law suits will follow. It is unclear if local governments must allow persons of different faiths to give the invocation. Can an atheist or a person from a satanic cult give the invocation? Are only organized, historic religions allowed to contribute? And Is there a required need for secular invocations and if so at what frequency? What would have happened if they had simply stated that no prayer of any kind is allowed at a government sponsored meeting? A requirement for a strictly secular invocation would have solved this problem. At the top of this post is a link to the New York Times article reporting on this event. It states that:
“In a concurrence with the majority opinion, Justice Alito called the dissent’s qualms ‘really quite niggling.’ ‘That comment,’ Justice Kagan responded, ‘says all there is to say about the difference between our respective views.’”
We ask you to consider how this case should have been decided. Please do not say it is too complicated or a simple matter— and walk away. One group of people, in a GOVERNMENT MEETING OF A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY, is forcing others to not only hear their specific religious prayers, but to accept the idea that there is a god to pray to in the first place and he/she is listening! Is that religious toleration? Will that lead to more harmony and peace between persons of different religious beliefs?
“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues, on the street corners and in government public meetings so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door……” [Matthew 6:5 & 6:6-modified.}
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Sinclair Lewis