An inclusive approach

Public prayer should unite us, not divide us
Greece, N.Y., Town Supervisor John Auberger speaks to the media in this 2009 photo. The Supreme Court will settle a dispute over prayers in the halls of government, involving council meetings in Greece.

This page makes no bones about this newspaper’s Christian beliefs. As we wrote in a 1998 editorial, “This newspaper is owned by a Christian businessman. God is the Supreme Being of our universe, and we make no apology for defending America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and values.”

 

But even we believe there are limits to what a government can or should do in the realm of public prayer.

We’re hoping the U.S. Supreme Court clarifies just what that is soon.

The high court Wednesday hears arguments in a case from Greece, N.Y., in which two non-Christians objected to the town board’s overtly Christian prayers to open its meetings.

An appeals court ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor, saying the local government was prohibited from favoring one religion in its prayers.

The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take the case indicates it may either overturn or substantially alter that lower-court ruling.

That would be a good thing, if it preserves and strengthens the right of local governments to open meetings with prayer.

The notion put forth by atheists and radical leftists that any public prayer is prohibited by the Constitution is poppycock. The people who founded this nation – and who therefore might have known a little something about what they were thinking – were God-fearing men who unreservedly invoked divine Providence in their words and in their writings. Including in our founding documents.

So, erasing God from the town square is an absolute non-starter. We hope the justices will make that clear enough. Once again.

But one would think there is room for respecting the religious melting pot America long ago became.

And honestly, public prayer should unite us, not divide us.

We see nothing wrong with elected leaders acknowledging a higher power. Heaven knows we could use a little more humility in the people who lead us these days.

That said, not all prayers – or pray-ers – are created equal. A public prayer, quickly forgotten and not necessarily deeply felt by all, can only do so much. If the mere volume and quantity of prayers were determinative, the Mideast would be paradise.

It matters what is being prayed and in what spirit. And not even all heartfelt, well-meaning prayers can be granted.

What they should be, in America, is inclusive.

 

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