A theocrat’s recent letter turned the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment upside down. It prevents Christians from using government to force people to participate in or financially support any religious activities. Yet theocrats like the letter writer argue it really means a government official can make everyone in a public government meeting participate in a prayer, invariably a Christian one, as there are no “non-sectarian” prayers.
No religious activities, symbols or slogans are legal in government settings. People can pray as they choose in their private or public, non-government settings, so long as they do not disturb others. The moment any officials demand people sit through a prayer in order to participate in a government event, such as a council meeting, they are violating one of our most important, fundamental laws.
That’s why the Greece v. Galloway decision by five Christian theocrats on the U.S. Supreme Court was a legal and moral abomination. No lies can justify that ruling under our national political philosophy. The town of Greece already has resumed its illegal activities of allowing only Christian prayers. You can bet a Muslim or Wiccan who tries to pray openly at a Greece council meeting will be arrested.
Similarly, no lies can justify having a Christian slogan on all public money; our republic did perfectly well for 150-plus years with “godless” money. And we helped win two major wars under the Pledge of Allegiance, godless until the 1950s.
Two other popular Religious Right lies:
1) No judge has ever prohibited a student from quietly, nondisruptively praying in a public school. Judges have merely followed the Constitution by forbidding school officials from forcing prayer on all students. Neither can officials use the subterfuge of letting a student force a prayer on all students in a class or assembly.
2) Thomas Jefferson did not idiosyncratically coin the phrase “wall of separation” between church and state. The “wall” metaphor was used in England in the 16th century. Baptist preacher and Rhode Island founder Roger Williams invoked it in his 17th-century writings. Popular English essayist James Burgh used it in the 1760s. Constitution author James Madison never used the “wall” metaphor but liked “separation” in discussing church-state relations. George Washington called for “effectual barriers” between the two. Jefferson merely used a popular phrase for a complex argument.
Anyway, what’s the point of having a government meeting prayer when half or more of the people in the room hate it for being illegal or offensive to their religious beliefs?