Don't cut up the fabric

Aiken is rightly standing firm on prayer in public meetings

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Prayer helps.

Besides -- what can it hurt?

That prayer helps is a matter of deep faith for most of us, but it also has been the subject of scientific research, including a recent study by a University of Indiana professor in Mozambique. Clinical research there indicated significant improvements among hearing- and sight-impaired patients who were prayed over.

But even if you discount that kind of scientific study, what's the harm in prayer?

To some, the harm is that someone else is publicly espousing religious beliefs they don't agree with. So? Where's the actual harm?

Prayer before public meetings is under assault in America, most recently in Aiken, S.C., where the national Freedom From Religion Foundation has demanded the city council clean up or end its prayers. Public bodies can't engage in prayers that are sectarian or denominational -- favoring one religion over another.

Fine. Make sure the prayers are inclusive and nondenominational. Public bodies also could invite a rotating group of clergy to give prayers, making it even more inclusive.

If that's what the Freedom From Religion folks wanted, that might be the end of it. It's not.

"We'd prefer if they'd drop prayer altogether," an attorney for the foundation admits.

No doubt.

Still, Aiken residents won't be cowed, as they shouldn't. In an act of polite defiance, they held a prayer rally before last Monday's council meeting. An overflow crowd of as many as 700 showed up.

The thing is, this ought to be left up to a community to decide -- not an organization in another state that, frankly, mistakenly believes the Constitution somehow designates a right to be free "from" religion. There is no such right in our Constitution. Fact is, the First Amendment protects individuals' rights to express their religious beliefs.

The rules for governmental bodies are much more restrictive, obviously, but not to the point where prayer must be banned.

The practice of opening public meetings with prayers -- which was done by those who wrote our Constitution, by the way -- may not be among the most monumental of matters. But the principle of keeping America a spiritual nation, and defending our rights, definitely is.

That's part of the fabric of this country, like it or not. But if you don't like it, why would you feel either the legal or moral right to deny it to everyone else?

Neighborliness is also part of our fabric.

Or it used to be, anyway.

Comments (46) Add comment
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willie7
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willie7 08/12/10 - 10:24 pm
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I just wish we would practice
Unpublished

I just wish we would practice our religion. We have been defined as one of the most hypocritical nation in the world because we have one of the largest church-going population. And yet many times, it doesn't show in our relationships with each other.
I rather see a sermon that hear one.

momster59
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momster59 08/12/10 - 10:33 pm
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willie - "I'd rather see a

willie - "I'd rather see a sermon than hear one."
absolutely!

As for the public prayer, what most Christians don't get is that not everyone is Christian. So here I am of a different faith, seated near our school's resident Hindu and Muslim, and at the beginning of our back to school meeting, the prayer is offered up to Jesus. The two known atheists took flack from several for walking out when it was announced that prayer was about to be said, so I guess they aren't supposed to have that right. The Hindu took flack because he dared to tell the person who prayed that it would have been nice to just pray to God.

This is a religiously pluralistic society with a Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion for ALL belief systems. That's the problem with your public prayers. In Matthew, Jesus admonishes his followers about making showy public prayers and tells them to pray quietly and humbly, to lock themselves away. It would be nice if they would follow his advice.

grouse
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grouse 08/12/10 - 10:41 pm
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Oh, maybe Chronicle, it's
Unpublished

Oh, maybe Chronicle, it's because of the nagging First Amendment that separates church and state. It's really not that hard. Religion has no business in public affairs. It's a personal "relationship" between you and whatever imaginary god you believe in. As momster59 says, Jesus was very specific on how and when to pray.

soldout
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soldout 08/12/10 - 11:16 pm
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There is nothing about

There is nothing about separation of church and state in the constitution unless you are referring to the Russian constitution. Government is restricted from interferring with religion but the people can have as much religious influence in the government as desired. If you walk around Washington DC you see scripture everywhere you look. People may not like the Christian influence in the founding of this country but it is there at every turn.

impossible
124
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impossible 08/12/10 - 11:19 pm
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The First Amendment says,
Unpublished

The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech, . . .”
The Constitution also gives us three branches of government, only one of which is authorized to legislate, so spare us your rebuttal about rulings of unelected activist judges "legalizing" their personal and or party policies, prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
If “the free exercise thereof” was meant to restrict the practicing of one’s religion to private worship, it would have said so. It was not relegated to “private worship,” as Obama is promoting, but was a freedom to be exercised in public and in private. I’m surprised that one of you haters of God, Holy Scripture and religion hasn’t demanded that places of Christian worship visible from a public road should not exhibit any indicia of the religion practiced therein and should not have a sign displaying times of worship because the very presence of such indicia and signs might offend someone of a different faith or of no faith at all.
The spouting of inanities offends thinking people, but the First Amendment grants your right to so spout. As for prayer and other matters biblical, people, especially those who don’t believe in the Bible, should not pick a verse here and there as grist for the argument mill. Community liturgy and prayer were engaged in by the early Christians, and Jesus also commented that where two or more are gathered in his name He is in their midst.
Those who can’t stand the Augusta Chronicle should put their money where their mouth is and subscribe to the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times.

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 08/13/10 - 12:09 am
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Christian bad. Christian

Christian bad. Christian evil. Must attack Christian at every turn. Ugh, Christian, Ugh.
( this secularite mantra brought to you by all liberal institutions)

sjgraci
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sjgraci 08/13/10 - 12:35 am
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Keep religion out of

Keep religion out of government and keep it in the churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and shrines where it belongs.

dani
12
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dani 08/13/10 - 02:05 am
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sjgraci, Why?

sjgraci, Why?

GGpap
528
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GGpap 08/13/10 - 02:24 am
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The AC "christian staff"

The AC "christian staff" writes that "In an act of polite defiance, they held a prayer rally before last Monday's council meeting. An OVERFLOW (emphasis mine) crowd of as many as 700 showed up."

Well, I would like to add that if one is mindful of the fact that the Aiken population (in 2009) was 29,494, at least 28,794 of the good folks stayed at home. Of course, it may have been more since we do not really know if all of the 700 in attendance at the prayer meeting were Alienates. My guess is that they were not. So, it's much ado about nothing in regard to the "overflowing" support.

In regard to the question: "what's the harm in prayer?" Or why do some of us protest the offering of prayers...no matter the religion represented...prior to government meetings in which binding decisions governing all may be adopted? Perhaps it is because we prefer that those decisions come about through clear and concise rational deliberation rather than through the influence of some misguided zealots, or even fanatics, that try to sway their civic leaders by way of audible and stentorian suggestion under the pretext of "innocent" prayer.

GGpap

carcraft
27005
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carcraft 08/13/10 - 05:37 am
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Impossible is correct. One

Impossible is correct. One of George Washington's first acts as commander in Chief of the Continental Army was to ORDER a day of fasting and prayer and establish a Chaplin's Corp. The US Congress has opened with prayer since it started! There are many more instances of PUBLIC demonstrations of faith since the founding of America but to those that dislike Christrians their closed eyes and ears won't see or hear!

Runner46
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Runner46 08/13/10 - 07:50 am
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I am sure the First Amendment

I am sure the First Amendment can be applied to most religions, because most religions encourage their followers to live together in harmony. However, when a religion instructs its followers to harm themselves or others, the First Amendment should be overruled for the common good. The problem we have with our system of government is the application of our laws, which of late have been applied dogmatically, rather than by practical decisions for the common good.

Techfan
6461
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Techfan 08/13/10 - 08:08 am
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When they rotate religious

When they rotate religious leaders, I'd like to see the reactions when the Rabbi, Imam, or Shaman gives the prayer. For that matter, even a Catholic leading the crowd with a Hail Mary.

Tigger_The_Tiger
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Tigger_The_Tiger 08/13/10 - 09:12 am
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It seems that sjgraci doesn't

It seems that sjgraci doesn't support "the FREE EXERCISE thereof."

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 08/13/10 - 09:59 am
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And we all thought the best

And we all thought the best science in the world was carried out here in the United States! Who knew it really was Mozambique????? Let's get serious, although it's going to be hard to stop guffawing over MR's touting of a so-called scientific study in Africa purporting to prove the efficacy of "PIP," short for Proximal Intercessory Prayers. This "study" supposedly showed improvement in Africans with vision or hearing impairments
after they were prayed over at close range. If MR had had even an ounce of skepticism about yet another "prayer study," he might have learned the pathetic truth about this one. But no, he no doubt dredged up this report from the usual Right Wing sources and used it to make a political point. Anyone with an even limited science background will be interested in learning:

1. This Mozambique "study" had no control group. A control group might have received no PIP, or might have received PIP using African tribal prayer, or Buddhist prayer, or Islamic prayer asking Allah or Mohammad to help the subjects. None of this was done.

2. The subjects were not randomly chosen; they were a group self selected for a pre-existing belief PIP would work.

3. Subjects were "tested" multiple times, not just once. PIP was administered, in other words, until a measurable "positive outcome" could be recorded.

Most damning, perhaps, was a statement by the "professor" himself, who admitted the study made no effort to determine the actual "mechanism" which produced the [highly questionable, as I have pointed out] results.
In other words, any "positive outcomes" might be the result of patients feeling nurtured, cared for, attended to in ways beyond the mechanical help of glasses and hearing aids. This "study" did not solely involve PIP, but also the "laying on of hands," which makes the nurturing, caring counter-hypothesis more plausible.

Bottom line: From a science perspective, there was nothing scientific about the Mozambique study. And despite its almost total lack of scientific rigor, any "positive" results can be explained by a number of alternative hypotheses.

Typical of the sort of intellectually vacuous sleaze we expect from MR and ACES.

effete elitist liberal
3147
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effete elitist liberal 08/13/10 - 10:14 am
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Next, the Monday evening

Next, the Monday evening "prayer rally." "Aiken residents won't be cowed," MR assures us. Well, maybe, but the "Christian" rally was put together by the Lakeside Baptist Church of Bath. And judging from the AC's photo, which showed the front row of the assemblage, the crowd was mostly middle-aged white women of ample girth, plus a few ernest-looking guys with buzz cuts, herded up from the backwoods of Midland Valley. I'm pretty sure that crowd would not be too receptive to the idea of ministers of various faiths doing the pre-meeting prayer. I want to be there when its the imam's turn!

effete elitist liberal
3147
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effete elitist liberal 08/13/10 - 10:19 am
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"The practice of opening

"The practice of opening public meetings with prayers -- which was done by those who wrote our Constitution, by the way... " No doubt, but the FF also kept slaves, counted African-Americans as 3/5s of a human being, would have laughed at the idea of women voting, and many other ideas long consigned to history's dust bin of really bad ideas.

Labatt
0
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Labatt 08/13/10 - 10:28 am
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"I like your Christ, I do not

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

“God has no religion”

Gandhi

effete elitist liberal
3147
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effete elitist liberal 08/13/10 - 10:34 am
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"Public bodies also could

"Public bodies also could invite a rotating group of clergy to give prayers, making it even more inclusive." The more I reflect on MR's suggestion here, which in fact reflects current court thinking, the more I like the idea. So I'd like to hear from posters about the night it's the imam's turn to offer the prayer. Remember, if the proposed NYC mosque is a "Monument to Terrorism," what's a real, live, garbed-up Muslim cleric in Aiken?

mary dits
2
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mary dits 08/13/10 - 10:57 am
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university of indiana? never

university of indiana? never heard of it.
what can prayer hurt? when will we have a muslim prayer at the marble palace before a commission meeting? what can it hurt?
as long as it's not ground zero, religion is a-ok.

Mr.L.A.Kegbrat
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Mr.L.A.Kegbrat 08/13/10 - 11:07 am
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Public group prayer is a form

Public group prayer is a form of mass psychosis. People who participate should be in mental institutions, not running our government.

Tigger_The_Tiger
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Tigger_The_Tiger 08/13/10 - 11:17 am
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Again, Mr.L.A.Kegbrat

Again, Mr.L.A.Kegbrat displays the intolerance of the atheist religion.

carcraft
27005
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carcraft 08/13/10 - 11:55 am
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OK! Lets throw out the

OK! Lets throw out the constituion because the FF had slaves. That entirely negatess the whole thing EEF?

Tigger_The_Tiger
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Tigger_The_Tiger 08/13/10 - 12:02 pm
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No carcraft....like all

No carcraft....like all liberals, they just want to ignore the parts that they don't like......or have a judge "re-define" it.

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 08/13/10 - 12:06 pm
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"Clinical research there

"Clinical research there indicated significant improvements among hearing- and sight-impaired patients who were prayed over."
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Tigger_The_Tiger
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Tigger_The_Tiger 08/13/10 - 12:22 pm
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Empirical research is

Empirical research is delusional?

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 08/13/10 - 12:23 pm
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Well lookie here.....Muslims

Well lookie here.....Muslims in Lebanon respecting Christians and not beheading them or killing them en masse because they are infidels as the silly American christians so ignorantly believe.

http://ap.augustachronicle.com/pstories/world/20100813/694402347.shtml

baronvonreich
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baronvonreich 08/13/10 - 12:25 pm
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Tigger_The_Tiger Friday, Aug.

Tigger_The_Tiger Friday, Aug. 13 12:22 PM Empirical research is delusional?
-------------------
When the research is conducted in a non-emperical manner that is not at all consistent with standard statistical and scientific methods.......yes.

Tigger_The_Tiger
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Tigger_The_Tiger 08/13/10 - 12:26 pm
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http://scopeblog.stanford.edu

http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/archives/alternative-med/

There's plenty of other studies that came to the same conclusion.

Tigger_The_Tiger
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Tigger_The_Tiger 08/13/10 - 12:27 pm
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Are you saying that Muslims

Are you saying that Muslims are NOT beheading "infidels?" I guess Daniel Pearl didn't get that memo.

Tigger_The_Tiger
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Tigger_The_Tiger 08/13/10 - 12:29 pm
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Ah... research done that is

Ah... research done that is not consistent with standard statistical scientific methods.....such as scrapping temperature readings that don't support anthropogenic global warming.

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