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Today’s Issues, From a Biblical Perspective!

Today’s Topic – Sectarian Prayers in County Meetings!

Posted by truthtalklive on April 9, 2007

Today’s Guest: Mike Johnson with the Alliance Defense Fund!

Questions:
1 – Should County meetings allow sectarian prayers?
2 – Why not just give in to the ACLU?
3 – Should my Church get involved in the fight?
4 – What about seperation of Church and State?

HERE IS THE LINK IN QUESTION – http://www.aclu.org/religion/govtfunding/29271prs20070330.html

Truth Talk Live ACTION ALERT!!!!
Please continue to pray for the Forsyth County, NC commissioners.

Video from last night’s meeting: HERE and HERE

Forsyth County Website: http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/commissioners/

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36 Responses to “Today’s Topic – Sectarian Prayers in County Meetings!”

  1. Anonymous said

    “You are aware of a major challenge Forsyth County has received from the ACLU. The ACLU has filed suit to severely limit Religious Freedom of Speech at the beginning of the County Commissioners’ meetings.”

    Hogwash!!!

    This is about our right to be free from Government sponsored religion and as a Christian I will be there supporting the ACLU!

    Why do rightwingers want the government involved in religion?

  2. Anonymous said

    Questions:
    1 – Should County meetings allow sectatarian prayers?

    No.

    2 – Why not just give in to the ACLU?

    Support the ACLU for freedom from oppresion.

    3 – Should my Church get involved in the fight?

    Yes. Support the ACLU!

    4 – What about seperation of Church and State?

    We are as free today as we ever were to practise our religion.

    It seems to me that the rightwingers want speciall treatment under the law.

  3. Mike Johnson said

    Stu,

    Thanks for highlighting this important subject. The law is well estblabished in this area. No one involved is advocating that the local elected bodies MANDATE that prayers be delivered only “in Jesus’ name.” But, on that same note, they cannot PREVENT such references either. That would be showing hostility to one religious viewpoint, and such is prohibited by the Constitution.

    -Mike Johnson

  4. Anonymous said

    As a Christian would it not be more offensive for a muslim or buddhist to pray to their diety than for a non-sectariam prayer to be evoked in an opening ceremony? Why can’t we remove sectarian claims from prayers so that all people can feel as equally represented as possible?

  5. Anonymous said

    As a Christian, to format my prayer to someone’s dictates ,other than God’s ,is to me, very wrong. In other words,I believe the Bible instructs me to pray is Jesus name, and to do otherwise,well let’s just say I might as well not pray. Kelvin Phillips

  6. Stu said

    Some great discussion!

    The point of Religious Liberty is to allow not just Christians but people of EVERY faith to pray according to their conscience, not the dictates of the Government.

    Praying in Jesus name or Allahs name to open a government meeting no more ‘establishes religion’ than eating a big mac at a government meeting establishes a Macdonalds franchise……

    As long as all are invited to pray, and not told how or how not to pray by the Government.

    How am I wrong?

  7. Anonymous said

    Stu, you know as well as the rest of us that the fundamentalist agenda does not include fair play for other religions. Faundamentalists are dedicated to wiping them out. And if the government can be coerced into assisting in that goal, then more the better.

    By promoting sectarian prayer in such a manner you advocate giving the fundamentaist a government sponsored forum to promote their religion.

    Take the County meeting last night. All of the speakers were pro-sectarian prayer. How many non-Christians do you really think will show up to pray before these meetings? A few at first, maybe, then none. Then we’ll have the same argument all over again.

    For two hundred plus years the Christian religion has enjoyed a preferred position in the Courts.

    Times change. Start liking it.

  8. Brad said

    “Stu, you know as well as the rest of us that the fundamentalist agenda does not include fair play for other religions. Faundamentalists are dedicated to wiping them out. And if the government can be coerced into assisting in that goal, then more the better.”

    Really? What religion do you hear about today that is committing 10-20 suicide bombings a week? What religion has essentially declared war on America “the infidel”? And you say WE are the ones dedicated to wiping OTHER religions out? Check again, my friend.

    “By promoting sectarian prayer in such a manner you advocate giving the fundamentaist a government sponsored forum to promote their religion.”

    Read again. Nobody is opposing other religions being able to pray to whomever or whatever they wish to. Nobody. What is being opposed is the idea that sectarian prayer OF ANY KIND can’t be practiced, meaning that Christians can’t pray to God, Muslims to Allah, pantheists to a tree, etc… Nobody is trying to take anyone’s choice to pray to whomever they wish away. God believes in the rights of people to have a choice – if He didn’t, he wouldn’t have given us free will, but instead would have MADE us follow Him without choice. Check the facts again. I know it’s fun to get embroiled in a big debate for which you argue the opposite side, but you at least need to be sure of what you’re posting.

    “Take the County meeting last night. All of the speakers were pro-sectarian prayer. How many non-Christians do you really think will show up to pray before these meetings? A few at first, maybe, then none. Then we’ll have the same argument all over again.”

    That’s up to the non-Christians. Nobody is keeping them from coming, if they don’t show up it’s b/c of their own choice. And of course the people at the meeting last night were pro-sectarian prayer. That’s like being surprised that there were police officers at a Fraternal Order of Police meeting! What did you expect?

    “For two hundred plus years the Christian religion has enjoyed a preferred position in the Courts.

    Times change. Start liking it.”

    What “preferred position” have we enjoyed, I ask? Abortion is legal, isn’t it? Freedom of (all) religion is present, isn’t it? What do you think is present that gives Christians preferential treatment??

    Times do change, but that doesn’t mean morals should.

    And here’s an idea, be willing to at least attach your name to what you write.

  9. joey t said

    Brad, Brad, Brad…where ya been, buddy? Preach it!

  10. Brad said

    I’ve been around, just waiting on some juicy topics!

    This could be a great debate blog, if we could get more people going on it and actually posting!!

    You’ve got to love the christians who support the ACLU. I think I have the cards they’re missing from their deck…

  11. Anonymous said

    “And here’s an idea, be willing to at least attach your name to what you write.”

    No thankye! I don’t want a brick through my window! The last time I put my name down I recieved hate mail! How about them Christian values?

    No, we can argue here and my name is unimportant to the matters at hand. Just like the meeting last night where I was outnumbered 50 to 1. There’s bound to be a nutjob in every crowd!

    I guess my main point is that we are as free as we ever were to practice religion. Let’s keep the government out of it.

    Ask yourselves what purpose does government sponsored prayer serve? It serves the vanity of the self-righteous. It serves the politicians trying be re-elected.

    I say let’s keep our governments secular so we can truly have freedom of religion.

  12. Anonymous said

    “Really? What religion do you hear about today that is committing 10-20 suicide bombings a week? What religion has essentially declared war on America “the infidel”? And you say WE are the ones dedicated to wiping OTHER religions out? Check again, my friend.”

    You’re rambling my friend. Remember the “great commission”?

    I never said you were going to bomb anyone.

  13. Anonymous said

    “That’s like being surprised that there were police officers at a Fraternal Order of Police meeting! What did you expect?”

    Well, you missed my point entirely. That’s what I expected!

    “What “preferred position” have we enjoyed, I ask?”

    Well, duh!!! Sectarian(Christian) prayer with government sponsorship!

    But that’s coming to an end. Next up is getting ‘In God We Trust’ off the currency.

    Soon!

  14. Brad said

    Anonymous, you appear to misunderstand the issue at hand. You seem to think that those on this discussion are advocating that only prayers offered in Jesus’ name be allowed, which isn’t the issue at stake at all! In fact, Mike Johnson cleared it up pretty well with his earlier comment: “The law is well established in this area. No one involved is advocating that the local elected bodies MANDATE that prayers be delivered only “in Jesus’ name.” But, on that same note, they cannot PREVENT such references either. That would be showing hostility to one religious viewpoint, and such is prohibited by the Constitution.” Do you see what’s happening here? We are asking that people be allowed to actually utilize their 1st amendment right to express their religion as they see fit. Which means IF a Muslim wished to pray in Allah’s name, that would be as permissible as a Christian who prays in Jesus’ name, or a pantheist who prays to a tree. I’m not sure why that’s difficult to understand, but you seem to be missing that concept in your arguings.

    And though you never said we were going to “bomb anyone” (which I never said you said in the first place, I only used that as an illustration), you DID say that “fundamentalists are dedicated to wiping them out”, the “them” referring to other religions. That’s a pretty bold statement to say, that isn’t really backed up by much other than your own personal viewpoint. That’s why I gave the examples of the Muslim countries who have publicly said they would like nothing more than to kill the American infidels. I think that shows who really wants who “wiped out.”

    You also say that Christians have enjoyed a preferred position in the courts, and you referenced “sectarian (Christian) prayer with government sponsorship” as your example. How so? What law gives Christians the preferential treatment in this matter? Don’t say the 1st Amendment, b/c that gives ALL RELIGIONS the SAME treatment, not one over the other. We’re just asking for that to be enforced.

    Would I like to hear a Muslim prayer at a gov’t meeting? No – I would probably say my own silent prayer to Jesus for the person’s soul while they were praying, and not listen to theirs. But – I would support their right to pray to whom they wish as part of the 1st Amendment. Would I like to hear a Christian prayer at a gov’t meeting? Sure – and if others there wanted to say their own silent prayers while it was going on, and not listen to it, that’s fine, as well. With your line of thinking, you just want to do away with prayer all together, or make it general. Can’t make it general, b/c a prayer is only a prayer if it’s offered to someone else, so to even say a prayer means, by definition, that you must say who you’re offering it to. That’s not a solution. So you’re left with either the solution supported by the 1st Amendment, or your idea to do away with it completely.

    I don’t know whether you are a Christian or not, but if you are, I openly challenge you to have some Biblical basis for the ideas you are bringing forth. If you’re not, then I dismiss them anyway as not only having no Biblical basis, but also no legal basis.

  15. Anonymous said

    “Anonymous, you appear to misunderstand the issue at hand.”

    No, I understand perfectly. The point that I was making (and that you ignored, or misunderstood) is that the fundamentalist support for sectarian prayer is misleading and disingenuous.

    The fundamenatalist does not support sectarian prayer because they think it will produce a rainbow of different religions taking turns at the podium each month. If the meetings allow sectarian prayer, how many non Christians will show up to pray?
    A few will at first, maybe, then after a while it will be back to only Christians. Isn’t this defacto government sponsorship of one religion?

    The fundamentalist position is that this is a Christian Nation, that Christianity should have an elevated position over the other religions and that the Constitution should be interpreted with that in mind. The courts today may not see things that way. Neither do I. Neither does the ACLU and I think most Christians don’t see it that way. We have a secular system of laws that govern us and keep us free to practice our religion.

    I can’t argue points of law very well, since I’m no lawyer. The courts will decide the law. But as Christians we need to ask ourselves what purpose does praying at these County meetings serve other than the vanity of the self-righteous and the needs of the politicians to garner votes?
    Wouldn’t a moment of silence serve all religions better? Of course it would. But it doesn’t serve the right wing fundamentalist agenda very well. Aw shucks.

    I know I am repeating myself, but you seem to misunderstand things easily. Was this a problem for you in school?

  16. joey t said

    this comment is inappropriate: “Was this a problem for you in school?”

  17. Anonymous said

    “You’ve got to love the christians who support the ACLU. I think I have the cards they’re missing from their deck…”

    And this commment isn’t?

  18. Brad said

    “No, I understand perfectly. The point that I was making (and that you ignored, or misunderstood) is that the fundamentalist support for sectarian prayer is misleading and disingenuous.”

    I didn’t miss it. Fundamentalists are supporting sectarian prayer. Your opinion is that we are doing it b/c of some ulterior motive. I’m not sure you have the basis to make that claim, unless you’ve interviewed every single supporter of it to find out exactly why they support it. I will say that I favor it b/c I value prayer, and believe that we should be allowed to do it. If that means that others who believe differently than me must also be allowed to pray as they see fit, then that’s fine with me, for reasons I’ve already stated. I didn’t miss anything – I just disagree with you.

    “The fundamenatalist does not support sectarian prayer because they think it will produce a rainbow of different religions taking turns at the podium each month.”

    Again, without knowing EVERYONE’S motives, you don’t have the basis to make a blanket absolute statement such as this.

    “If the meetings allow sectarian prayer, how many non Christians will show up to pray? A few will at first, maybe, then after a while it will be back to only Christians. Isn’t this defacto government sponsorship of one religion?”

    This is one of the worst arguments I’ve heard supporting NOT allowing it, and you’ve presented it numerous times. What you’re basically saying is that EVEN IF ALLOWED, non-Christians wouldn’t show up to pray, therefore it shouldn’t be allowed AT ALL b/c the only people who will utilize it will be fundamentalist Christians. The problem, in that scenario, doesn’t lie with the Christians’ utilization of the opportunity, but rather with the non-Christians lack of utilization of the opportunity. That’s like saying that nobody should be allowed to go to DisneyWorld, b/c some people won’t find it important enough to go, so nobody should be able to go, or else it would be sponsorship of DisneyWorld. It’s a ludicrous argument. If your argument is correct, then it means that prayer (to who or whatever) isn’t important enough to non-Christians for them to even be bothered doing it when allowed. If that truly is the case, then why would they care if Christians pray, if prayer doesn’t even matter to them? It’s an argument that implodes on itself.

    “The fundamentalist position is that this is a Christian Nation, that Christianity should have an elevated position over the other religions and that the Constitution should be interpreted with that in mind. The courts today may not see things that way. Neither do I. Neither does the ACLU and I think most Christians don’t see it that way. We have a secular system of laws that govern us and keep us free to practice our religion.”
    I do believe that America was originally a Christian nation, but unfortunately is not so anymore. You seem to enjoy that it’s not, which is sad in and of itself. I don’t believe Christianity should be “elevated” above other religions, meaning that no other religions should be free to practice as they wish. That’s free will – not only does the Constitution ordain that, but God ordains that. I do believe Christianity is the one true, correct belief system, and I do believe that all others are not. Absolutely. Would I tend to interpret the Constitution, or anything for that matter, in light of my belief system? Absolutely. We all make choices and form opinions based on what we believe, so that’s pretty obvious. The courts may disagree with me. You clearly disagree with me. The ACLU clearly disagrees with me (shocking!). However, again, you make a statement that you really have no basis for when you say that you think that “most Christians” disagree, as well. How do you know? Have you polled all professing Christians yourself, and found this to be true? Are you relying on the ambiguous (at best) polls of others to form this opinion? Or is this just your guess, or maybe your hope? There’s no basis.

    “I can’t argue points of law very well, since I’m no lawyer. The courts will decide the law. But as Christians we need to ask ourselves what purpose does praying at these County meetings serve other than the vanity of the self-righteous and the needs of the politicians to garner votes?
    Wouldn’t a moment of silence serve all religions better? Of course it would. But it doesn’t serve the right wing fundamentalist agenda very well. Aw shucks.”

    Again with the baseless opinions which you like to state as fact. How do you know for certain what purpose prayer at county meetings serves? Can you look into the hearts of those praying to see for certain? If you can, let the rest of us know how to do it, b/c you’ve found out how to do something that nobody except God has been able to do until now, so I’m sure a lot of people would LOVE to know how to do it. How do you know a moment of silence would serve all religions better (as you state)? You don’t. What concerns me most, however, is that you lump yourself in with Christians, but clearly don’t hold prayer to a high enough standard to even fight for it in a public venue. How about praying that God’s will be done in these county meetings, that God would guide their minds and hearts through their agendas? You seem to not view prayer as important, which I find amazing for someone who calls themself a Christian.

    “I know I am repeating myself, but you seem to misunderstand things easily. Was this a problem for you in school?”

    I don’t misunderstand you – I just vehemently disagree with you. I’ve already asked you before to provide Biblical support for your positions on these matters, which has through now been ignored. Do you have any? I’ll say it again, I challenge you to Biblically support your position that we shouldn’t pray to God, in Jesus’ name, in public.

  19. joey t said

    that comment wasn’t made by brad, it was made by someone else…your comment was directed at brad…intelligent debates can happen without stopping that low…that goes for the person you referenced as well

  20. Brad said

    “that comment wasn’t made by brad, it was made by someone else…your comment was directed at brad…intelligent debates can happen without stopping that low…that goes for the person you referenced as well”

    Actually Joey, the comment WAS made by me, and I stick by it. Any Christian who so rabidly is in support of the ACLU, to the degree that they are willing to support them at risk of taking Christian prayer out of the public, is not playing with a full deck. I have asked, repeatedly, for “Anonymous” to give some Biblical support for his positions, which as of yet he has been either unable or unwilling to do.

    Still waiting…

  21. Anonymous said

    “I didn’t miss anything – I just disagree with you.”

    Exactly. So, since we are not going to change each others’ minds, let’s summarize our positions:

    You think it’s ok for the government to promote your religion.

    I think the government should be strictly secular.

    I am glad that we understand each other.

  22. Brad said

    “Exactly. So, since we are not going to change each others’ minds, let’s summarize our positions:

    You think it’s ok for the government to promote your religion.

    I think the government should be strictly secular.

    I am glad that we understand each other.”

    Again (for the 3rd time now) you are wrong, and don’t understand AT ALL the points at hand. Based on the fact that you call yourself a Christian, but cannot offer ANY Biblical support for your position, I think it is not a stretch to say that you have NO Biblical basis for your position, and this is your opinion only.

    You state that my position (or rather, your understanding of my position) is that I “think it’s OK for the government to promote my religion.” Look back at everything I wrote. Not only will you not see that directly written, you won’t even see it indirectly implied! As a reminder, here’s what I wrote a few days ago: “Nobody is opposing other religions being able to pray to whomever or whatever they wish to. Nobody. What is being opposed is the idea that sectarian prayer OF ANY KIND can’t be practiced, meaning that Christians can’t pray to God, Muslims to Allah, pantheists to a tree, etc… Nobody is trying to take anyone’s choice to pray to whomever they wish away.”

    Amazingly, this doesn’t correspond to your understanding of my position at all. Which means either you haven’t been able to understand my position after numerous times of me making it clear, or you don’t want to understand it correctly, and you would rather make it sound more biased than it is. Either way, it’s an issue on your side.

    You are right, we will disagree, and neither will convince the other. But I want to make sure for you and anyone else who reads this exactly what my position is.

    I still think it’s a shame that you call yourself a Christian, and clearly hold to beliefs that don’t mesh well with Christianity, beliefs for which you haven’t given any Biblical basis for. It’s actually pretty sad.

  23. Anonymous said

    “I still think it’s a shame that you call yourself a Christian, and clearly hold to beliefs that don’t mesh well with Christianity, beliefs for which you haven’t given any Biblical basis for. It’s actually pretty sad.”

    Brad, apparently if we don’t agree with your political opinions then you say we aren’t Christians.

    I knew you’d eventually show your true thoughts. Predictable.

    I am a Christian who believes that we are best served by a strictly secular government regardless of what Mr. Brad thinks.

  24. Anonymous said

    “I’ll say it again, I challenge you to Biblically support your position that we shouldn’t pray to God, in Jesus’ name, in public.”

    Nice try, Brad. But mis-stating your opponent’s position is a tactic worthy of a high school debate team. You are over eighteen?

    Oh, and I won’t participate in your Bible verse quoting contest, either. But for my part you can go ahead and pray in public all you want. (Didn’t Jesus have something to say about that in Matthew ch. 6?) Just keep the government out of it.

  25. Brad said

    “Brad, apparently if we don’t agree with your political opinions then you say we aren’t Christians.”

    Anonymous, it has nothing to do with whether YOU agree with ME or not. It has to do with what does the Bible say about it? What I’ve asked you to provide, repeatedly, is evidence for your position, based on something other than your own opinions. And you continue to not be able to provide that. You like to make your position sound very middle of the road from a Christian perspective, but you clearly are against a Christian’s right to be able to pray in public, as evidenced by what you’ve said. And for a Christian (as you claim to be) to make that comment, is pathetic.

    “Nice try, Brad. But mis-stating your opponent’s position is a tactic worthy of a high school debate team. You are over eighteen?”

    Wow. I haven’t mis-stated your position at all – you are not in favor of Christians being able to pray in a government meeting. In fact, you are not in favor of ANYONE being able to pray in a government meeting. If that’s wrong, you have a lot to re-phrase, b/c that’s what you said. And you characterize ME as mis-stating the opponent’s position? Pot, please meet kettle.

    “Oh, and I won’t participate in your Bible verse quoting contest, either. But for my part you can go ahead and pray in public all you want. (Didn’t Jesus have something to say about that in Matthew ch. 6?) Just keep the government out of it.”

    I didn’t think you would. That’s probably in part b/c your position is not backed up AT ALL by Scripture. And yes, I am familiar with the passage you reference in Matthew 6. Do you think Jesus was saying that nobody should pray in public, or that you should only do it with a pure heart?

  26. Anonymous said

    “you clearly are against a Christian’s right to be able to pray in public”

    ???

    OK, this is going nowhere since you are too busy listening to yourself.

    I’ll say it once more. Try to keep up, OK?

    You can pray all you want in public. Go ahead. Won’t bother me a bit. It has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

    Oh, the news today is that the Forsyth County is going to fight this in court. More taxpayer money wasted.

    See you in court.

  27. Brad said

    Anonymous, I guess you don’t define a government meeting as “in public” then. B/c you’re clearly against that.

    For all you say (or don’t, and just skirt around anything that actually calls you to back up what you are saying), why would you not promote the ability to pray ANYWHERE, as a Christian?

  28. Anonymous said

    “I would probably say my own silent prayer to Jesus…”

    Brad, your own words support my argument.

    Hope this helps.

  29. Anonymous said

    Just so the rest of us don’t confuse what the lawsuit is saying with what some would have us think it says, here is the link to the ACLU website and it’s statement concerning the lawsuit:

    http://www.aclu.org/religion/govtfunding/29271prs20070330.html

  30. Anonymous said

    Let me try that link again:

    http://www.aclu.org/religion/govtfunding/29271prs20070330.html

  31. Anonymous said

    Sorry. I guess I am not going to be able to post it.

    Maybe the Moderator could post the link?

    http://www.aclu.org/religion/
    govtfunding/29271prs20070330.html

  32. Moderator said

    Hello – I have placed a direct link in the post.

    Moderator

  33. Anonymous said

    Thanks!

  34. 1944Canucks said

    Show in the US Constitution the article where it states that there is a seperation of church and state. Nowhere in the Constitution is this stated. Having taught 6th grade for the last ten years I have taught it numerous times and I still continue to search for that wording. That phrase is thrown about as if the founding fathers put it in black and white and that is patiently untrue. The only mention of religion in the Constitution is the following, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
    Praying in public is by no stretch of the imagination a law establishing religion. If anyone has an ounce of knowledge of history, you will remember that this ammendment was passed because of the power that the Church of England wielded. This lead of the abuse of the king’s power and as such the founding fathers didn’t want any one individual in government having power over the people. Some people need to grow a thicker skin when it comes to prayer in public. In this country we have freedom of religion not freedom from religion. While I may not agree with beliefs of Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists, I praise God that I live in a country where we are allowed to worship the God of our choice.

  35. bluedevilfan said

    In response to the sixth grade teacher, one will not find the term “checks and balances” in the US Constitution. One will not find the term, “right to a fair trial” in the constitution. Just because the exact wording is absent from the Constitution does not mean that the above-mentioned principles as well as “separation of church and state” are not constitutionally sound.

  36. […] Debate (Click HERE for Comments) Today’s Guest: Mike Johnson with the Alliance Defense Fund!Questions:1 – Should […]

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