Thursday, September 03, 2009

You can think about Jesus...Just don't mention his name at City Council...

I'm almost caught up on things I'd like to blog about like this article from yesterday in the Toledo Blade, Council urges caution regarding invocations, I wanted to express my thoughts and have you share your thoughts on this whole debate about prayer and to point out, in my humble opinion there is no such thing as a nonsectarian prayer. There are nondenominational prayers, but one thing that all of those who believe in God share is...they believe in God. That at it's very essence is sectarian. Those who don't believe in God or any higher power are not a part of that "sect."

Yet we play games and pretend that if we just ban naming Jesus and I'm guessing the Virgin Mary too and maybe Jehovah, that it's okay. The Supreme Court has ruled legislative prayer is widely acknowledged to be an exception to the constitutional prohibition on governmental prayer. (link and link as reference) This has come up elsewhere and in Ohio where:

We, the people of the State of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and promote our common welfare, do establish this Constitution.

In 2007 a prayer given before the Ohio House made then House members Chris Redfern of Catawba Island and Bob Hagan of Youngstown walk out. Talk about the power of prayer...Logic dictates it was more related to the political positions the pastor was advocating for as opposed to the mere mention of Jesus but Jesus has been a focus in many of these situations. Stone the Preacher has a great example.

I know quite a few people who don't believe in God or any organized religion, I have yet to meet one who was so traumatized by the mere mention of the word Jesus that they could not come before a legislative body such as Toledo City Council. While a Roman Catholic, I also do have to admit that in all of the times I've watched or listened to Toledo City Council or any legislative body that offers a prayer sectarian or nonsectarian, I've yet to see the hand of God come down and inspire legislators either, though some of us have prayed for common sense, for them to get to the point and a variety of other things that have never happened either.

The question that I believe that should be asked is how does the word Jesus harm a person? If I am walking down a public street and a street minister is utilizing his first amendment right to speech, to tell me that if I do not repent I am going to hell, can I sue him because I find his behavior offensive or traumatic to me? The public street is as much mine as the City Council chambers is. If he stops me and tells me I must repent or pray with him at that moment for me to continue on with my business then it would be a problem, but similar to what happens during those few moments used in prayer before a legislative body, no one is forced to pray just as no one is forced to say the pledge of allegiance and no one is forced to sing the national anthem.

Our Founding Fathers did not want there to be an organized national religion, one where you were forced to join or suffered the consequences. Even they didn't agree on religion but they did agree with that. Those who like to argue if we are a Christian Nation or not often cite the Treaty with Tripoli, as proof we are not a Christian Nation, which anyone who has studied the Treaty of Tripoli will tell you, the original document was in Arabic and the original does not contain the same wording. (One of the many links on that topic.) It's also impossible to argue that while the Federal Government did not advocate for a federal or national religion that many of the early state constitutions specifically mentioned God and Jesus...An example, Delaware:
ART. 22. Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, before taking his seat, or entering upon the execution of his office, shall take the following oath, or affirmation, if conscientiously scrupulous of taking an oath, to wit:

" I, A B. will bear true allegiance to the Delaware State, submit to its constitution and laws, and do no act wittingly whereby the freedom thereof may be prejudiced."

And also make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit:

" I, A B. do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration."

And all officers shall also take an oath of office.

Or Pennsylvania who had a similar form:
I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.

We've argued about this for years, but the separation of church and state was not a requirement of the actual states that made up the United States of America, it was the federal state...Using the Treaty of Tripoli ignores a variety of other documents that contradict including the much cited Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, it comes down to an argument over which documents hold more power...

While demanding such an oath of office is today something that would not be demanded to be able to serve as an elected official, is the mere utterance of the name Jesus in a legislative setting a barrier to citizen participation in government? Do we have freedom of religion or freedom from religion? Do we have freedom of speech or do we have freedom from speech...It seems difficult to view telling someone they are not allowed to say Jesus as being just as wrong as forcing someone to say it.

1 comment:

Cyberseaer said...

Seems to me that banning the name Jesus is just another way for minority telling the majority what should and should not be done. And here I thought that this country is based on the majority.