County commissioners in North Carolina should not open meetings with prayers that single out a particular religion.
That was the decision of a federal judge who ruled Jan. 28 in favor of two Forsyth County residents, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in a lawsuit against that county. While the suit was in Forsyth, the judge’s decision is applicable to all 100 counties in the state.
The problem wasn't that the county didn\'t attempt to bring in other parsons to do the prayer, it's that they were all of the same religion!
Was it wrong of the commissioners to have a prayer? No. But it can't be sectarian, partisan prayers.
“The Supreme Court has recognized that ‘legislative prayers’ which open or solemnize government meetings such as the meetings of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners are part of a rich history and tradition in this country and are constitutional,” he wrote in his five-page decision.
“However, the Supreme Court has also emphasized that such legislative prayers must not advance a particular faith or belief, because to do so would have the effect of affiliating the government with that particular faith or belief in violation of the Establishment Clause.”
Because they always prayed in Jesus name, they lost the lawsuit.
I\'ve read a lot of related articles over the last years about prayer at government meetings. I\'ve seen that some entities that want to have prayer will create their own non-partisan prayer for the members to read, or they invite others in the community to do the invocation, making sure they invite all for diversity.
In Somervell County, the county commissioners meeting does not open with prayer. Nor do any of the city meetings. Nor does the Somervell County Water District. But the GRISD School Board does. And if there were to be a lawsuit about it, today, they would lose because their prayers are partisan. I've recorded quite a few meetings and have audio of quite a few others, and make a short compilation showing that one might believe one was in a Southern Baptist Church rather than a board meeting.
My views on this are well known on this site. I was raised a Southern Baptist, with the rich tradition of separation of church and state, and also respect other people\'s religions (or lack of them). I strongly support people being able to worship God as they choose, including private prayer at football games, governmental meetings, etc. But the line needs to be drawn when someone stands up and says " Bow Your Head Please and Join Me In Prayer" and then invokes Jesus. It shows a lack of consideration for other faiths and it is a violation of the constitution, according to the Supreme Court.
I believe the other governmental entities in Somervell County understand this, keep their meetings secular, appropriately, and think GRISD should follow suit.
Update: The February 2010 GRISD School board meeting opened with partisan prayer- audio clip here (Brady Brown) Full Audio on GRISD website.
March 2010 partisan prayer- full audio at GRISD website.
1 - RamAm
13 Feb 2010 @ 2:36:27 PM
I am pleased as punch that JESUS has not been forsaken at these meetings. Let his
name ring from every public entity in the whole world until He comes to reign
on this earth in PEACE forever!!!!
Not afraid to say His name anywhere.
Heh. YOu make my point for me- the school board meetings are not church meetings. Jeus would equally not be forsaken at these meetings by those who chose to pray privately. And the school board is breaking the law.
Randy. I know what you're saying but the problem is this. These are not church meetings but secular government meetings and the Supreme Court has held that the meetings cannot be partisan. If there are to be prayers, you have to go out and solicit prayers from all different demominations in the community. One court case recently in CA held that it wasn't good enough to solicit prayers if all the prayers happen to be one religion. I don't think I would want to go to a meeting where other faiths that I don't agree with offer prayer. The people who want to have God in government can pray quietly to themselves and that brings God into the situation. But overall leading a prayer is not appropriate nor lawful when it is partisan.
You can say that you were raised Southern Baptist but you apparently didn't pay attention or you'd know that what your saying goes against everything that you've learned. I referee HS football and I cheer inside everytime a school has the guts to stand up to this God-less state and a student or preacher leads everyone in prayer in Jesus' name. We can't choose to have GOD in this aspect of our life and leave him out of another. You missed the teaching that God is a jealous God and he wants us fully, not just when it's convenient for us. Don't bother replying to this for my sake because I don't care what you have to say, but will pray for you. PM
@PeM. You apparently don't know your Baptist history. The only issue I am talking about here is separation of churcn and state. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Baptists in this country is SOCAS (ie, Roger Williams). From article talking about how the Southern Baptist church has changed.http://www.accessmylibrary.com/article-1G1-94160859/sbc-resolutions-regarding-religious.html
I. Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State as Baptist Distinctives
The great Texas and Southern Baptist leader, George W. Truett, once said:
Never, anywhere, in any clime, has a true Baptist been willing, for one
minute, for the union of church and state, never for a moment ... That
utterance of Jesus "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and
unto God the things that are God's," is one of the most revolutionary and
history-making utterances that ever fell from those lips divine. That
utterance, once for all, marked the divorcement of church and state. (1)
In describing why he chose to unite with Baptists, evangelist Billy Graham wrote, "I share with Baptists a strong belief in the separation of church and state" and went on briefly to describe Baptist contributions to that end. (2) The late R. G. Lee, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, put it this way: "There should be religious liberty for all people ... There should be complete separation of church and state at all times--no matter what, no matter who, no matter where." (3)
To understand the doctrinal foundations of this issue so important to Baptists, one may look to Edgar Young Mullins, one-time president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and president of the Southern Baptist Convention. In his Axioms of Religion, Mullins listed, defined, and described six general truths basic to faith. Among them was the "Religious Axiom" that "All souls have an equal right to direct access to God." The "Moral Axiom" was "To be responsible man must be free." The "Religio-civic Axiom" called for "A free Church in a free State." In chapter 11 of Axioms, Mullins connected the concepts of soul freedom and the separation of church and state:
The Church is a voluntary organization, the State compels obedience. ...
The direct allegiance in the Church is to God, in the State it is to law
and government. One is for the protection of life and property, the other
for the promotion of spiritual life. An established religion, moreover,
subverts the principle of equal rights and equal privileges to all which is
part of our organic law. Both on its political and on its religious side
the doctrine of separation of Church and State holds good. Civil liberty
and religious liberty alike forbid their union. (4)
Mullins was echoing what John Smyth, sometimes called "the founder of the modern Baptist churches" (5) had written in Propositions and Conclusions concerning True Christian Religion, containing a Confession of Faith of certain English people living in Amsterdam (1612):
84. That the magistrate is not by virtue of his office to meddle with
religion, or matters of conscience, to force or compel men to this or that
form of religion, or doctrine: but to leave Christian religion free, to
every man's conscience, and to handle only civil transgressions (Rom.
xiii), injuries and wrongs of man against man, in murder, adultery, theft,
etc., for Christ only is the king, and law giver of the church and
George W. Truett concurred with Mullins in connecting soul freedom and competency with religious liberty and separation of church and state. (7) He also pointed out the doctrine of biblical authority as foundational to the other two doctrines. If people truly look to the Bible as their "rule of faith and practice," they must be free from externally-imposed traditions, customs, councils, confessions, and ecclesiastical formulations. Only in that way can they live ruled "simply and solely [by] the will of Christ as they find it revealed in the New Testament." (8)
The Baptist Faith and Message adopted by the SBC in 1963 was an update (with a few minor revisions of substance, but several in structure) of a statement of faith adopted in 1925 (which was itself strongly influenced by Mullins and based on the New Hampshire Confession of Faith of 1833). The article on "Religious Liberty" (one of the sections not found in the New Hampshire Confession, but included in the 1925 document) closely reflecting the thought of Mullins, held that:
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the
doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not
contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to
every [the 1925 statement read "the" instead of "every"] church protection
and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for
such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by
the state more than others ... The church should not resort to the civil
power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual
means alone for the pursuit of its ends ... A free church in a free state
is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered
access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate
opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.
I'ts really too bad that Southern Baptists don't seem to know their history and that so many who have commented here don't seem to get it that their religious freedom on an individual basis is not restricted.
Yes, I will reply to what you said, even if you never return to read, because you need a reply badly.You pray for me, because you do have religoius liberty in this country and I will think for you.
PeM: your assumption that people who support the separation of church and state are "God-less" is absurd and frankly tiresome. The real problem here is that everyone is not just like you and you can't handle it.
Yeah, Hb. Those Godless Southern Baptists! I'm a little amused at the tactic for that post which showed so much historical ignorance. "Let me go post my comment, but please do not comment BACK to me, my fingers are in my ears and I will PRAY FOR YOU because you don't agree with me in my ill-informed stance". heh.
@shemc- Who do you think is secretly taping people praying? heh. I'm guessing you have never been to a PUBLIC school board meeting where Open Meetings Act applies.
From the Texas OMA.
551.023. Recording of Meeting by Person in Attendance
(a) A person in attendance may record all or any part of an open meeting of a governmental body
by means of a tape recorder, video camera, or other means of aural or visual reproduction.
(b) A governmental body may adopt reasonable rules to maintain order at a meeting, including
rules relating to:
(1) the location of recording equipment; and
(2) the manner in which the recording is conducted.
(c) A rule adopted under Subsection (b) may not prevent or unreasonably impair a person from
exercising a right granted under Subsection (a).
And, I might add, the audio is from GRISD, which records PUBLIC school board meetings on both audio and video. Any one can either go record the meetings themselves or request a copy from GRISD.
shemc: There's an interesting segment in the documentary, God in America, that tells the story of how Thomas Jefferson supported the newly founded Baptist sect who was being prosecuted in Virginia for their divergent beliefs. He didn't embrace their ideology but fought for their rights to have their beliefs. This resulted in the Bill of Rights amended to our Constitution in 1771.
Funny, but the TSOB wants to minimilize Thomas Jefferson in Texas history books. Go figure.
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