Yesterday, in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court reached the stunningly obvious conclusion, under the text of the Constitution, the views of the Founding Fathers and the historic practice in this country, that prayers prior to town meetings are not unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Go here to read the text of the opinion. Of course the four liberals on the court, for whom the text of the Constitution is so much Play-Doh, dissented. I was going to write a post on the decision, but Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels for the Church so frequently that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has beat me to it:
I’m not a lawyer, I just pretend to be one on the Internet so I apologize if there’s too much technical jargon in this post. But yesterday, CNN’s Daniel Burke reported that the United States Supreme Court told people who claim that the mere sight of a Christian cross compels them to become Christians or who claim to break out in a cold sweat whenever they hear someone say “Jesus Christ” to grow a pair and man the hell up:
If you don’t like it, leave the room.
That’s the essence of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s advice for atheists and others who object to sectarian prayers before government meetings.
In a 5-4 decision written by Kennedy, the Supreme Court allowed Greece, New York, to continue hosting prayers before its monthly town board meetings – even though an atheist and a Jewish citizen complained that the benedictions are almost always explicitly Christian.
Many members of the country’s majority faith – that is, Christians – hailed the ruling.
Considering the intellectual vacuity of court rulings on the Establishment Clause over the years, any schadenfreude yesterday, Chris? Yeah, a little bit. I’d use “wailing and gnashing of teeth” here but that’s Biblical and I don’t want to offend anyone.
Many members of minority faiths, as well as atheists, responded with palpable anger, saying the Supreme Court has set them apart as second-class citizens.
Groups from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism to the Hindu American Foundation decried Monday’s decision.
“The court’s decision to bless ‘majority-rules’ prayer is out of step with the changing face of America, which is more secular and less dogmatic,” said Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which litigated the case.
If you don’t like it, step out of the room for a few moments.
But what about people who like their local government meetings to be religion-free?
“Should nonbelievers choose to exit the room during a prayer they find distasteful, their absence will not stand out as disrespectful or even noteworthy,” Kennedy writes.
Elections matter, folks. Because they can result in stupid people getting lifetime jobs.
[Justice Elena] Kagan, writing for the dissenting minority, sharply disagreed.
She suggested that the five justices who formed the majority – all of whom are Catholic – don’t understand what it’s like to belong to a minority faith in America.
Did Burke happen to mention that the majority in this case was Roman Catholic?
The Supreme Court’s Catholic majority seems to think that, because many prayers before government meetings take on a ceremonial aspect, the actual content of the prayers doesn’t really matter, Kagan continues.
In essence, she said, the majority is arguing “What’s the big deal?” and making light of religious differences while conferring a special role on Christianity.
“Contrary to the majority’s apparent view, such sectarian prayers are not ‘part of our expressive idiom’ or ‘part of our heritage and tradition,’ assuming that ‘our’ refers to all Americans. They express beliefs that are fundamental to some, foreign to others – and because of that they carry the ever-present potential to divide and exclude.”
Ellie? Have you ever actually read the Establishment Clause? It says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That’s it.
There’s nothing in there about division or exclusion or any of the rest of that hippie crap. Put it another way. What if that town board brought in a Muslim to offer a prayer one evening, he opened with “In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful” and mentioned Mohammed a time or two, using that “peace and blessings be upon him” line?
Know what I would do if that happened, Ellie?
I wouldn’t make a scene or anything. But I wouldn’t pray. I’d sit there quietly and respectfully until the gentleman finished and then I guess we’d proceed with town business. The fact that a Muslim publicly prayed while I was in the room neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg, as Mr. Jefferson once put it.
And it certainly doesn’t constitute an establishment of the Muslim religion in that town, Ellie, your tortured reading of the First Amendment notwithstanding.
One more thing. Atheists? What is the deal with you people? Why do you always turn up in stories like this? You don’t believe this stuff or at least you claim that you don’t so why legally force people who disagree with you to keep quiet? What difference does it make to you if someone publicly expresses concepts that you find absurd?
Sounds REAL insecure to me. Continue Reading