Friday, August 5, 2011

Is Greensboro Mayor Bill Knight going to have to go back to a moment of silence at the beginning of City Council Meetings?

"The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
has underscored an essential boundary between church and state.

Why would many not want an invocation
as opposed to a moment of silence at publicly funded Greensboro City Council meetings?

...the court found that the board of commissioners in Forsyth County, N.C.,
violated the establishment clause of the Constitution
— “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”
— by starting its meetings with prayers
“endorsing Christianity to the exclusion of other faiths.”

How is a taxpayer funded prayer at a municipal function
not a free, publicly funded commercial
for those purposefully picked to present the invocation?

Are members of a church more likely to give campaign contributions
to a Council Member who attends the same church,
if said church’s preacher gives the invocation?

Legislatures have long opened sessions with prayers seeking divine guidance.

The Supreme Court ...has made clear that government can’t favor one religion.

Are Greensboro’s clergy more or less likely to bring in new business
from being viewed/endorsed on publicly funded TV?

Will clergy who give invocations receive privileged access
to Greensboro’s political and municipal executives?

The Fourth Circuit observed that these invocations
must not “repeatedly suggest the government has put its weight behind a particular faith.”

Are invocation granted clergy more likely to tow their political benefactor’s “line”
in tax-free “non-profit” pulpits?

...the county hosted prayers that, almost four-fifths of the time,
made sectarian references to tenets of Christianity.

“Heavenly Father,” began one prayer cited in the ruling,
“tonight we are so grateful for the privilege to pray that is made possible
by Your Son and His intercessory work on the Cross of Calvary.”

It went on, “And we’re so grateful tonight that we can look in the Bible
and see how You instituted government.”

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,
for they love to pray in public places to be seen by others…"

But when you pray, go into your room,
close the door and pray to your heavenly parent, who is unseen.” (Matt. 6:5-6)

The county’s practice favored what the Fourth Circuit describes as
“the majoritarian faith in the community at the expense of religious minorities.”

The Fourth Circuit [is] saying that a government that favors one faith
flouts the inclusive nature of American government, harming church and state.

NYT via John Robinson

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