Seniors told they can't pray out loud at meals at Port Wentworth center

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PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. - Preston Blackwelder proudly showed off a painting of his grandmother that had hung next to the front door of his Port Wentworth home.

She was the woman who led him to God, Blackwelder said Friday.

And with that firm religious footing, Blackwelder said it would be preposterous to stop praying before meals at Port Wentworth's Ed Young Senior Citizens Center near Savannah because of a federal guideline.

"She would say pray anyway," Blackwelder said of his grandmother. "She'd say don't listen."

But Senior Citizens Inc. officials said Friday the meals they are contracted by the city to provide to Ed Young visitors are mostly covered with federal money, which ushers in the burden of separating church and state.

On Thursday, the usual open prayer before meals at the center was traded for a moment of silence.

The dilemma is being hashed out by the Port Wentworth city attorney, said Mayor Glenn "Pig" Jones.

Tim Rutherford, Senior Citizens Inc. vice president, said some of his staff recently visited the center and noticed people praying shortly before lunch was served. Rutherford said his company provides meals like baked chicken, steak tips and rice and salads at a cost of about $6 a plate. Seniors taking the meals pay 55 cents, and federal money foots the rest of the bill, Rutherford said.

"We can't scoff at their rules," he said of federal authorities. "It's a part of the operational guidelines."

Rutherford said the moment of silence was introduced to protect that funding. He said although the change may have been misinterpreted, perhaps his company could have done a better job selling it.

"It's interpreted that we're telling people that they can't pray, but we aren't saying that," he said. "We're asking them to pray to themselves. Have that moment of silence."

Jones said he was outraged by the change and has promised to find a solution.

"It was one of the hardest things I ever did as mayor is to look those people in the eyes and ask them to be patient with me and honor their God in a moment of silence until I can have a resolution to this," Jones said. "For me to look at their eyes and tell them they can't thank God for their food, it's unheard of - I can't take it."

Jones said he flirted with the idea of ending a contract the city has with Senior Citizens Inc.

"Like one lady said, 'You can stop me from speaking, but you can't stop me from praying what's in my heart,'" he said. "But the best answer right now is that we're trying to get the best information possible and legal council is looking at what would happen if we continued to pray."

Blackwelder said the center's already fragile visitors have been rattled.

"This is, in my view, an unnecessary intrusion into the private lives of individuals. It's a bad place to draw a line in the sand."

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Nat the Cat
1
Points
Nat the Cat 05/09/10 - 08:41 am
0
0
The loathsome leftist atheist

The loathsome leftist atheist are saying that illegal immigration is just a misdemeanor and not the cause of crime in America and should just be ignored. And there are too many illegal immigrants, over 12M, to successfully remove them all, so just make them legal with amnesty in spite of the Constitution. Well, we could do the same thing with religion and State property. There are just too many Christians to do anything about it. So why not just pray outloud in Civil Disobediance. I don't think the "prayer police," will come and arrest you....not yet anyway. Maybe by 2012 Illegal immigrants will come and arrest you for praying over food that the Government partially paid for. And what about Milk? Milk is subsidized by the government. Can I pray at church over spilt Milk! Or can I even drink Milk at church with my doughnuts. Even atheist are laughing about the extreme measures that the Obamanation will go to.

UncleBill
6
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UncleBill 05/09/10 - 09:02 am
0
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The article misses the point

The article misses the point of the issue completely.
The point of the prohibition is that the government is not to endorse a religion. It seems that the complaint is that Mr. Blackwelder wants to subject everyone at the center to the same prayer.
Since the meals are paid for with public funds, and are provided to people in a public facility without regard to religious belief, having a sectarian prayer at the beginnig of the meal puts any there who don't care to participate in it in a difficult position.
Additionally, public prayers are often slated towards the belief of the one who does the delivery.

There is also a higher reference for this:
"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
So the best bet is to pray in private, and if you want to have a spoken prayer go to a church you agree with and participate there.
It is your right to do that in this country.

freeradical
1429
Points
freeradical 05/09/10 - 12:04 pm
0
0
You miss the point

You miss the point UncleBill,
If the prayers were present the day you first stepped in the door to partake of what was being offered, the only one who is putting you in a "difficult position" is YOU.
Take a good long look in the mirror.
The same goes for your all knowing,all seeing almighty federal gov.
If they were praying THE DAY the fed gov stepped thru the threshold and said here take this food, then
it is the seniors that are in the catbird seat on this, and the federal
government's only option is to admit that the prayers were being said from the day they intruded, and that they screwed up, and they are now withdrawing the money obtained from these people in the first place and "seperating" their funds, from these activities of the people who they work for, and who provided these funds in the first place.

"God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice,is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?
We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." . I firmly believe this. I also believe that without His concurring aid , we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel."

(Bejamin Franklin, Constitutional Convention (1787)

corgimom
53597
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corgimom 05/09/10 - 12:19 pm
0
0
Being the person that I am,

Being the person that I am, if someone told me not to pray out loud, and I wanted to, I'd say "OK" and do it anyway.

I think what the article refers to is a group prayer, which is different.

confederate american
0
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confederate american 05/09/10 - 01:40 pm
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NEWS FOR EVERYONE,I'll pray

NEWS FOR EVERYONE,I'll pray anywhere and at anytime i want to,i just want someone to try and stop me,alpo taste better than most of the crap they serve our seniors.

AutumnLeaves
12038
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AutumnLeaves 05/09/10 - 02:28 pm
0
0
Good grief, let's use some

Good grief, let's use some common sense. It's really none of the government's business if we pray or not, but it's plain common sense the praying should be done silently over one's own food. If everyone in the home prayed out loud at the same time their own particular prayer of choice and custom, not only would it be a deafening babble, but the food would get cold. It's hard enough getting hot (or even lukewarm) meals to them without slowing down for prayers. The government doesn't need to stick its nose in, it is freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion, in other words, freedom to practice one's own religion and that includes grace at meals, if one so desires, but common sense, efficiency, consideration, tolerance (i.e. good manners) guide anyone in a diverse group of seniors in the direction of offering silent prayers.

freeradical
1429
Points
freeradical 05/09/10 - 03:13 pm
0
0
How they pray, or if they

How they pray, or if they pray, is their business, not yours.

BarstoolDreamer
19
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BarstoolDreamer 05/09/10 - 06:47 pm
0
0
It seems that the freedom of

It seems that the freedom of religion means only the freedom to worship christ to most christians....if they were worshiping any other fairytale figure before a meal christians would go insane.

BarstoolDreamer
19
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BarstoolDreamer 05/09/10 - 08:00 pm
0
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Even the mention of it I

Even the mention of it I guess will drive some insane. If that is the stance of an organization then don't take money from a government...it is not rocket surgery

Sargebaby
4694
Points
Sargebaby 05/09/10 - 07:55 pm
0
0
BarstoolDreamer, well your

BarstoolDreamer, well your moniker says a lot, but I gotta tell ya, a non-Christian is more apt to go insane! Why? Because, when you're staring death in the face, who you gonna call? It'll drive you nutz!

BarstoolDreamer
19
Points
BarstoolDreamer 05/09/10 - 08:02 pm
0
0
might as well call

might as well call ghostbusters sarge...thier prayers are answerd just as frequently

glassrinkmaker
0
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glassrinkmaker 05/09/10 - 09:04 pm
0
0
I don't believe the article

I don't believe the article said they were only praying to a Christian God, but if so, what be it? That is what this country was founded on, what I served 28 years to protect and if the need arises, will fight to the death to insure! Do the barstool dreamers understand?

CobaltGeorge
218114
Points
CobaltGeorge 05/09/10 - 09:10 pm
0
0
glass, you have one darn hard

glass, you have one darn hard core supporter standing right next to you.

freeradical
1429
Points
freeradical 05/09/10 - 09:24 pm
0
0
If christian praying is in

If christian praying is in progress the day the "fairytale figure worshiper"

steps through the door, than it is the "freedom" of the "fairytale figure

worshiper" to keep on truckin to a locale of other likeminded "fairytale

figure worshipers" .

Hapless, clumsily constructed attempts to place the onus on those

already exercising their freedom to worship notwithstanding.

WW1949
22
Points
WW1949 05/09/10 - 09:26 pm
0
0
I am honored. I had my first

I am honored. I had my first post pulled for telling the truth and not being politically correct about how the welfare people would still get the check in the mail no matter what.

WW1949
22
Points
WW1949 05/09/10 - 09:28 pm
0
0
cobalt, I am a hardcore very

cobalt, I am a hardcore very conservative supporter also.

CobaltGeorge
218114
Points
CobaltGeorge 05/09/10 - 09:46 pm
0
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WW1949, we are going to need

WW1949, we are going to need a lot of Hardcores to destroy what is happening "From within"

x58dav8r
116
Points
x58dav8r 05/09/10 - 09:57 pm
0
0
The "separation of church and

The "separation of church and state" has been so misused over several years that its become totally misunderstood. What it says is; "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
That's it plain and simple. I say screw 'em and pray when, where and how you want to. Doing so has nothing to do with the establishment of religion but everything to do with the freedom of speech.

corgimom
53597
Points
corgimom 05/09/10 - 10:01 pm
0
0
When I was graduating from

When I was graduating from high school, there was a prayer offered at the graduation ceremony. I was in a community where there were very few Lutherans, and the Lutheran minister was never invited to give the prayer. It was a Baptist minister; and although I am personally ok with the Baptist faith, it is quite different that the Lutheran faith on several key points. I didn't like that, especially when he began talking about things that did not agree with my beliefs.

So I can only imagine what non-Christians, atheists, and agnostics must think when they are faced with that situation.

I always ask myself, "Would I be equally ok with this if a Mormon, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, etc. would offer the prayer?"

I wouldn't. I would object.

No one has the right to force their religious beliefs on someone else. I don't want to hear prayers that are against my personal religious beliefs, and neither do others.

brimisjoshan
2
Points
brimisjoshan 05/09/10 - 10:18 pm
0
0
Have you ever noticed how

Have you ever noticed how many of these circumstances deal with Christianity when it comes to separation of church and state? Are they just picking on Christians? At times being a Christian I feel like it. But mostly it is because Christianity has bee deeply rooted in our society for a long time. What use to be common now is offensive to others because our culture has changed. We are no longer a nation that honors or puts God first. So to all those who have stated that we never were a Christian nation just take a look all the Christian activities you are having to do away with. They did not just pop up in the last 20 years. Christianity has been here a long time. Now the real question we have to deal with is simple: if we are kicking out all the Christian activities from our community events and just "if" there is a Christian God that has blessed our nation with the prosperity it has enjoyed then what do you think this God is going to do when He sees what we have done?

Little Lamb
57538
Points
Little Lamb 05/09/10 - 10:39 pm
0
0
First they completely

First they completely outlawed prayer in public schools. Then, the courts said that the problem with public school prayers was when the “authority figures” offered the prayers. The “authority figures” were thought to be unduly influencing the precious angels. So the courts allowed the students to pray aloud, but not the teachers and principals.

Likewise, in the military, the generals and the colonels may not offer the prayers, but the lowly chaplains and the enlisted personnel may pray aloud.

So, in this community center, where the meals are subsidized by the federal government, perhaps the chief cook and bottle washer should not offer the prayers. But there is nothing wrong with one of the eaters offering a prayer aloud in the room.

stillamazed
1493
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stillamazed 05/10/10 - 08:05 am
0
0
I think that a person should

I think that a person should have the right to pray anyplace they choose. When there is a group of people and half of those people want to pray and half doesn't then the half that doesn't can opt out, it is simple, no one is forcing anyone to participate or to listen, if you are a non believer then excuse yourself, don't participate. It seems that Christians are expected to respect everyone beliefs but no one want to respect ours. As far as comments on free foods apparently none of the people blogging has been nor has a parent who is on a fixed income, rather than complaining about some free meals why not complain about people who spend a life time on welfare.....if it were not for me and my brother my dad could not survive on his Social Security check alone.

speeding
0
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speeding 05/10/10 - 09:17 pm
0
0
Our freedom doesn't end just

Our freedom doesn't end just because OUR money kicks in.

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