Monday, May 05, 2014

Oh Goodie: More Jesus

I can't work up the energy to care about the Supreme Court's latest terrible decision. Though I think they got the law wrong, and opened a door dangerous people might use, I find it unlikely that anything too terrible is going to happen. A bland upstate NY prayer for a good meeting isnt going to inspire any pogroms. Still, I wish the rule was iron clad: No state-sponsored Jesus-mongering 
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a town in upstate New York did not violate the Constitution by starting its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month” who was almost always Christian. 
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that divided the court’s more conservative members from its liberal ones, said the prayers were merely ceremonial. They were neither unduly sectarian nor likely to make members of other faiths feel unwelcome. 
Sorry, but one gets the feeling that Justice Kennedy doesn't understand the first thing about prayer. While he may come from a religious tradition that is inclusive and polite, most traditions are the very opposite. Their prayers are not ceremonial. They do not make members of others faiths feel welcome or included. By design, they do the very opposite.

More importantly if you believe in the power of prayer and you think your religion is the one true faith you can't simultaneously believe your prayers are ceremonial, innocuous, and inclusive.

In upstate NY, Jews hold the majority in a few villages. Suppose those upstate Jews were to initiate their village proceedings with a few words about God. Would their prayers make Christians in the audience feel welcome? Probably not. As Justice Kagan asked in her blistering dissent, would those Christians be able to reconcile the Jewish prayers "with the First Amendment’s promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share of her government.” Again: probably not. And that is what the Court''s majority failed to grasp.

Fun fact to know and tell: None of the SCJs are Protestants.

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