An inclusive approach

Public prayer should unite us, not divide us

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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.”

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.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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.

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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GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 11/05/13 - 05:36 am
6
10
I am a Christian. I am a
Unpublished

I am a Christian. I am a devout Christian, actually putting my beliefs into actions. This is a SECULAR government, and public Christian prayers violate the Constitution if the United States. It's also no more than the Pharisees "lengthening their Phylacteries", making a show to the public so that they are viewed as pious. Christ said to "go into your private rooms to pray"
Matt 6:6

ymnbde
9544
Points
ymnbde 11/05/13 - 07:07 am
9
1
there is no true freedom of religion, actually

the government forces poor kids to go to public schools
the government forbids Christianity in public schools
therefore poor kids do not have freedom of religion
rich kids can go to the school of their choice
rich kids can have Christianity in their school
therefore rich kids have freedom of religion
poor kids don't have enough money for freedom of religion
the "separation" isn't that, so much as submission
to government's power
they force students to keep their religion in a private room
mainly the closet...
(oh, and hey, how does increasing the ratio of doctors
to patients
cause no harm?)

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 11/05/13 - 07:19 am
9
3
GAC, your actions and words

GAC, your actions and words speak otherwise. Our Heavenly Father taught His children to pray "on earth as it is in heaven". All public prayer is not as the Pharisees "lengthening their Phylacteries" or making a show.

GAC, was Elijah making a show when he prayed to the Lord in 1 Kings? When he publically called upon the Lord after challenging the prophets of Baal to pray that their god.

“’O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their hearts back.’

And what does scripture say God does? "Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.”

There is nothing wrong with public prayer when it is sincere and is nothing more than a connection and communication with God. There are many instances in scripture where Christ himself prayed publically in crowds and gatherings.

He warns us not to be pious when we pray and He also tells us to pray without ceasing. Are we to remain in our quiet place always? There is a time to pray to God in the quietness and stillness, and then there is a time for corporate prayer. His instructions to us is about the sincerity of our prayer, not so much where we should pray.

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 11/05/13 - 07:29 am
8
3
Acts 2:42 And they devoted

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Matthew 18:19-20 "Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Acts 1:14 "All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

In each of these verses, prayer is offered up to God in a gathering, not in solitude, but as a body of believers speaking with God.

billcass
761
Points
billcass 11/05/13 - 07:34 am
7
3
Contradiction

GAC your letter is inherently contradictory. You say that people should pray in private so as to not draw attention to themselves, but then you draw attention to yourself by saying you are "actually putting my beliefs into actions" and, therefore, speaking like a Pharisee.

Rhetor
995
Points
Rhetor 11/05/13 - 08:22 am
4
7
good idea

An inclusive approach is a great idea. It's about time that conservatives adopted one.
PS: the courts have long recognized the value of public prayer in legislative contexts. There is no danger that they will change this attitude. They have rightly opposed publicly-sponsored sectarian prayer like that practiced in this case. If you want to pray for your particular sect or cult, then don't expect to do so on the taxpayers' time or money. Have a nice day.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 11/05/13 - 08:32 am
9
2
" This is a SECULAR
Unpublished

" This is a SECULAR government, and public Christian prayers violate the Constitution if the United States."

Show us in the Constitution where public prayers of any kind are forbidden.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 11/05/13 - 08:34 am
7
2
Interesting that the same
Unpublished

Interesting that the same Congress that wrote the First Amendment, opened each session with a prayer. I wonder what their intent was.

Bodhisattva
5977
Points
Bodhisattva 11/05/13 - 08:42 am
4
7
People can pray anytime and

People can pray anytime and anywhere they wish. It's not the job of the government. It would be interesting to see the support for prayers led by a Muslim, Buddhist, or how about the Church of Satan? It's all fine and dandy when it's your religion, I just wonder how far the inclusiveness goes when you disagree with the message. My bet is not very far. It's what the forefathers feared. That's why we have, "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Riverman1
82181
Points
Riverman1 11/05/13 - 08:55 am
5
1
Viktor Frankl: Necessity of Meaning of Life

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
― Viktor E. Frankl

Little Lamb
45281
Points
Little Lamb 11/05/13 - 08:56 am
5
1
Court Sessions

To this day, if I am not mistaken, the U.S. Supreme Court opens each of its sessions with prayer.

Riverman1
82181
Points
Riverman1 11/05/13 - 08:57 am
8
0
"God"

I believe you can use "God" in prayers and leave to everyone to interpret God as they choose.

Little Lamb
45281
Points
Little Lamb 11/05/13 - 09:03 am
4
0
Inclusive Prayers

If the Supreme Court grants ACES its wish (see the last sentence of the editorial), and allows inclusive prayers at public meetings, while outlawing exclusive prayers, we will then need prayer rules and regulations set up by a federal bureaucracy. We will then need an enforcement agency to investigate alleged rule infractions and enforce as determined proper by the agency.

I prefer free speech, myself.

Bizkit
30682
Points
Bizkit 11/05/13 - 09:50 am
7
0
Public prayer is protected by

Public prayer is protected by the constitution. I can pray in any place any time. Any you of you want to try and stop me? That in no way establishes a "religion". We have free speech and a protected right to pursue any religion. Prayers shouldn't be "mandatory" in any govt meetings, but if any persons their want to pray-they can. Augusta has held a number of multi-faith initiatives and meetings appreciative of this diversity.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 11/05/13 - 09:53 am
6
2
" My bet is not very far.
Unpublished

" My bet is not very far. It's what the forefathers feared. "

And yet for some reason the opened every session with a prayer....interesting that they would open up with what they feared.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 11/05/13 - 09:56 am
6
2
" I just wonder how far the
Unpublished

" I just wonder how far the inclusiveness goes when you disagree with the message."

Apparently not very far.....just look at who is filing the law suits because they disagree with the message...........hint......it's not the Christians.

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 11/05/13 - 09:59 am
0
0
If I regard sin in my heart, He will not hear me.......
Unpublished

If I regard sin in my heart, He will not hear me.......

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 11/05/13 - 10:00 am
0
0
soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 11/05/13 - 10:01 am
0
0
We will obey man's laws, until they conflict with GOD's laws-MLK
Unpublished

We will obey man's laws, until they conflict with GOD's laws-MLK

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 11/05/13 - 10:02 am
0
0
What communion does belief have with unbelief?
Unpublished

What communion does belief have with unbelief?

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 11/05/13 - 10:03 am
0
0
You can be a redeemed child of God and not be a patriot. Its ok
Unpublished

You can be a redeemed child of God and not be a patriot. Its ok

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 11/05/13 - 10:06 am
0
0
In fact, you cannot support this government beast and be a true
Unpublished

Christian. Search your heart. Murders innocent babies. Enslaves the poor. Imprisons the uneducated. Steals from the productive.

effete elitist liberal
3112
Points
effete elitist liberal 11/05/13 - 10:59 am
3
6
"hint"

Duh, Humble. Of course Christians are not filing lawsuits-they already have pretty much what they want, public meeting beginning with Christian prayer! What I want to know is what ACES means by "inclusive" prayer. MR doesn't say, of course; his piece today is characteristically non-commital. Does "inclusive" mean public meetings could begin with a non-denominational prayer that acknowledges the "Supreme Being," the "Creator" of America's founding documents, but doesn't mention Jesus? Or does "inclusive" mean revolving prayer, including Christian, Jewish, and Muslim prayers, along with other religious denominations' prayers? Would such a revolving scheme include a "Humanistic" prayer with no mention of God, since conservatives have long claimed Humanism is a "religion"? Hopefully the Supreme Court will be less wishy-washy than ACES.

GiantsAllDay
9378
Points
GiantsAllDay 11/05/13 - 10:30 am
3
6
God, in the form of Jesus had

God, in the form of Jesus had to die, so we could be forgiven of all the things he was mad at us . You know, kind of like how a mother, who also happens to be a cutter, will cut up her arms, then tell her children that it is their fault, that they made her do that.
I never really 'got' the atonement. I thought it weird that god would make us imperfect and then be mad at us for being imperfect. I understood the atonement maybe if you murdered someone, or raped someone but for us 'normal' people just trying to do the best we can in a crazy world, why would someone have to suffer like that so we could go back to heaven?
There is a scene in "The Sixth Sense" where one of the ghosts is that of a female cutter, and she turns to the boy who sees dead people, and yells, while raising bloody carved up arms, "Look what you made me do," repeatedly. I think about that scene every time I think of the atonement. Poor God, look what you made him do! Such a loving and responsible parent.
From what ive read about crucifixion, Jesus got off comparatively easy. He was up on the cross a few hours, and many people were up there a lot longer. Crucifixion is horribly painful; Jesus was just one of many, so who did all those other people atone for by their deaths? This was always a stumbling block for me. What was up with this god's fondness for bloody sacrifices? Its pretty barbaric and sick. Never made any sense to me.
What kind of a parent thinks any child of theirs deserves to be tortured forever for finite "crimes"? A monster, a sick, psychopathic, evil, petty monster.

Bizkit
30682
Points
Bizkit 11/05/13 - 10:33 am
4
2
America is changing. America

America is changing. America is becoming more hispanic and predicted to be majority hispanic (in 2040 or so) we can bet prayer will be around a long time-as most are devout catholics. Now in Europe it is changing and will become mostly muslim so likely Islamic prayers will be used there.

Bizkit
30682
Points
Bizkit 11/05/13 - 10:39 am
3
1
People don't like

People don't like christianity-I get it. But it is a protected freedom. I don't like communist or communism either but that belief is also a protected freedom. I don't like Reps or Dems so there we go-that just leaves me out.

Bizkit
30682
Points
Bizkit 11/05/13 - 10:41 am
2
1
Jewish tradition doesn't have

Jewish tradition doesn't have a "hell" it has Sheol that isn't related to punishment.

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 11/05/13 - 10:52 am
0
0
The Chronicle is wrong
Unpublished

Matthew 6:5-6. The Chronicle is obviously biased in favor of the Christian religion, but there happen to be many others and, using this thinking, all should be able to offer to a prayer since they are all part of the community. There are appropriate times and places for public prayer. These take place in a church, mosque, temple, or synagogue. It is inappropriate for governmental business. The founders did not want religion to be part of the government; their writings both in and out the Constitution reveal this. The business of the town square and the business of the church do not need to be intertwined for either to do its job.

deestafford
26237
Points
deestafford 11/05/13 - 10:59 am
2
2
Those who are against prayers in the public domain as seems

to be the genesis of this case are totally ignorant of the actions and intentions of our Founding Fathers. During the drafting of the Constitution the Founders had reached an impasse and were heatedly arguing when Ben Franklin stopped the debate and suggested the body go into prayer to let them carry on their duties with solutions. After that the meetings progressed more smoothly and the Constitution was developed.

Also, during their time of debate and discussion, the Founders would set aside entire days of fasting and prayer with the hope that God would guide them in their efforts.

No matter what the five justices of the SCOTUS decided in the 40's, the intention of the Founders was their would be no established federal-level religion (denomination in the original drafts.) They did not intend to restrict the states from establishing a religion nor did they intend to banish religion from the public square.

I am not saying the removing religion from schools and the public square in 1963 was the cause; however, it is interesting to note that the number of unwed mothers, amount of violent crime, and many other negative actions and statistics increased after the removal of prayer from schools and the public square. Don't know if that was the cause...just sayin'.

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 11/05/13 - 11:00 am
3
3
GAD, your comment just goes

GAD, your comment just goes to show how uninformed you are concerning Christ and the purpose for His death on the cross. Christ did not die on the cross because He was mad at us, just the opposite. It was because He loves us and the only way for redemption was through His death because of sin. By His death he became the mediator between us and God. Christ has never blamed us for His death so your comparison with the scene from “The Sixth Sense” has not meaning. Atonement has nothing to do with blame but with acceptance of responsibility and the request for forgiveness. Another misconception you have is that God made us imperfect. That is lie, sin makes us imperfect and when we choose to sin, we make ourselves imperfect. I’m afraid you have a much higher opinion of yourself than what is realistic. Although it is your right to your opinion, your blasphemy is truly sickening, and if you feel Christ got off easy with His death on the cross and your viewpoint on God being a sick psychopathic evil monster shows just show lost your soul truly is. I will continue in my prayer for you, but my guess is your soul is under conviction by the venomous comments you spew today.

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