home
RSS
May 5th, 2014
04:23 PM ET

After Supreme Court ruling, do religious minorities have a prayer?

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - If you don't like it, leave the room.

That's 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.

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.

At least one justice, Elena Kagan, seemed to agree. And while Kennedy's decision reads like a lesson in American history, Kagan's dissent offers a picture of the country's increasingly pluralistic present.

American politicians have prayed before public gatherings since the Founding Fathers crowded into a stuffy Philadelphia room to crank out the Constitution, Kennedy writes.

The inaugural and "emphatically Christian" prayer at the First Continental Congress was delivered by an Anglican minister, who overcame objections from the assembled Quakers, Anabaptists and Presbyterians.

The prayer united the mostly Christian Founding Fathers, and the rest is history, Kennedy writes.

So, the justice suggests, as long prayers at public meetings don't fall into a pattern of proselytizing, denigrating nonbelievers or threatening damnation, what's the problem?

According to a recent poll, the vast majority of Americans share Kennedy's view.

Less than 23% of Americans told pollsters at Fairleigh Dickinson University that they dislike prayers at public government meetings.

“This has always been a praying nation, despite its very secular Constitution,” said Peter J. Woolley, professor of comparative politics at Fairleigh Dickinson in Hackensack, New Jersey.

“People generally see generic prayer as harmless, if not uplifting, not as something that is oppressive.”

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.

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.

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 matter, Kagan continues.

In essence, she said, the majority is 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."

To illustrate her point, Kagan, who is Jewish, raises a hypothetical scenario.

Let's say there's a Muslim resident of Greece, New York, who appears before the town board to share her policy views or request a permit.

Just before the Muslim woman makes her argument, a minister "deputized by the town" asks the room to pray in the name of "God's only son Jesus Christ."

With less than a dozen people the room, every action is noticed.

So, the Muslim woman has two choices, Kagan argues: 1) Go along with the majority and pray, despite her religious objections, or 2) Risk causing some kind of disturbance or public disagreement with the very people she is trying to persuade.

"And thus she stands at a remove, based solely on religion, from her fellow citizens and her elected representatives," Kagan writes.

Kagan did not suggest that the Supreme Court's majority (Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito) voted to uphold sectarian prayer because they are members of the country's largest church, Roman Catholicism.

But Ronald Lindsay of the Center for Inquiry, a Humanist group, called it "striking and sad" that "five of the six Christian justices on the Supreme Court formed the majority." (Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is Catholic, voted with Kagan.)

"With a Supreme Court that appears hostile to the rights of religious minorities, those of us who believe in a secular government must redouble our legal and advocacy efforts,” Lindsay said.

Of course, there's a great gap between being Catholic and using the gavel to promote Christianity.

But a new study conducted by scholars at the University of Southern California offers intriguing insights into how the justices have voted on First Amendment issues.

The upshot: The conservative justices tend to side with conservative causes; the liberals with liberal ones.

"Supreme Court Justices are opportunistic supporters of the First Amendment," write the scholars.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Courts • Discrimination • Interfaith issues • Prejudice • Religious liberty

soundoff (2,070 Responses)
  1. mangobrowne

    Next thing you know they will be supporting an individuals right to possess a firearm.....holy smokes!

    May 5, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
    • chuckthefish

      See: DC v Heller, and McDonald v. Chicago (RIP Mr. McDonald).

      May 5, 2014 at 9:50 pm |
  2. copanut

    I don't have a problem with Christians in general/

    The problem is the obnoxious vocal minority of self-righteous zealots who absolutely INSIST, who positively MUST, broadcast their faith and shove it down the throats of everyone else.

    It's natural that this is an outrage to those of other faiths or atheists, but it should be an equal outrage to majority Christians who should find such behavior offensive. I do not want my faith, or lack thereof, shoved down anyone else's throat, and all I expect is similar courtesy in return.

    Among thoughtful people, this is known as "the Golden Rule".

    May 5, 2014 at 8:04 pm |
  3. jamaljk85

    I love it. The next time an idi*t atheist throws a tantrum, I'll just say, "Leave the room"!

    May 5, 2014 at 8:00 pm |
    • gulliblenomore

      Actually, I wouldn't be caught dead in the same room as you, mostly because I am much more intelligent than you....or anybody else that believes a 2000 year old fairy tale with absolutely no proof. Still believe that a 600 year old man built a giant boat and loaded thousands of animals on it? Talk about idiots.....

      May 5, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
      • ugemeistro

        So what do you care, if you believe in nothing, then this shouldn't bother you. To you it's nothing, but to Christians it means something.

        May 5, 2014 at 9:45 pm |
        • G to the T

          So if I want to participate in my local government, but have to leave when they have the prayer session, how unbiased will those that stayed be?

          Why create a solution that divides when a secular option is ALL INCLUSIVE?

          May 6, 2014 at 10:14 am |
    • Relictus

      You love it because you do not remember your history. Such as when Catholic children where made to read Protestant Bibles in class. You love it because you are not a Native American, whose ancestors were forced – forced – as children to give up their native religion in schools taught by christian missionaries. Catholics worship the Trinity, which separates them from some other forms of Christianity. It's common for Catholic prayers to end, "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.". Hope that sits well with the Protestants, Baptists and Mormons.

      This ruling just elevated Christianity as a special case above the rights of all other religions, simply because the Judges were Catholic and Christianity is the majority religion.

      May 5, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
    • tcppp12

      How VERY Christ-like of you.

      May 5, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
    • gumdrop1957

      That is a very Christian thing to say to somebody, Jamaljk85. Just why is it that atheist or anyone that does not agree with you an idiot?

      May 6, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
      • rickdday

        Better yet, do the Christ like thing and forgive us.

        That is assuming you are Christlike.

        May 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
  4. haime52

    I find it hard to believe that a prayer, by anyone, to a being I don't believe in causes harm to me. Now, the Jewish lady, on the over hand, may have a grievance.

    May 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
    • rickdday

      It's not 'harm' we fear, it's 'mission creep'.

      When each new law has that Fresh Bible Smell™ that is when the problems come up for the Secular

      May 6, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
  5. jamie816

    I hope Satanists show up and perform a ritual.
    Because they absolutely would not be able to do anything about it.

    Fair and equal protection then under this ruling.

    May 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
  6. Salero21

    Well, well what can I say that I've not said before?

    Men of reason and reasonable men have once again let atheists know it. That though we heard and see your Tantrums, your belly aching and your whining, that doesn't mean we're listening to you, much less paying any attention to you. Now, go ahead and throw yourselves on the floor.

    Atheism is Absolute, Complete and Total NONSENSE [stupidity]. All men of reason and reasonable men can and do understand that and more. We all know that atheists are extremely hypocritical and compulsive pathological Liars. Even apes have more social Graces than atheists! That's why even in Hollywood of all places they're NOT listening to you, though they hear you. Go ahead now bark, bellyache, complaint, cry, howl, squeal, whine, throw yourselves on the floor and behave just like the Lord Jesus called you all.

    May 5, 2014 at 6:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Well, well what can I say that I've not said before?"
      -------------------

      Apparently nothing. So do us all a favor and give us a rest from your bilious nonsense.

      May 5, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
      • Salero21

        You have some gall. Why don't you just leave the room? I mean, is Total NONSENSE [stupidity] for atheist to pretend that with such pretense. No rest for the wicked says the Lord.

        May 5, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          I had a very disappointing Cubano sandwich yesterday. It reminded me of you.

          May 5, 2014 at 7:18 pm |
        • fintronics

          I took a dump in the toilet just now and it reminded me of saler-o-hole.

          May 6, 2014 at 9:30 am |
    • killaw

      Take your pills and crawl back to your cave, kthxbye.

      May 5, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
    • kenmargo

      Yea Salero, You believe in a god that was missing in action on 9/11. A man that is all powerfull and knows all let 9/11 happen. With friends like that who needs enemies. I guess he was scared of allah, another made up "peaceful" individual that has the arabs in muslims in constant conflict.

      May 5, 2014 at 7:44 pm |
      • kenmargo

        Correction: Arabs and muslims in constant conflict.

        May 5, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
      • niccage2014

        Let's face it. If you were in God's position, it would be quite a fun show to watch. "Fear" of the lord was wisdom, after all.

        May 5, 2014 at 8:17 pm |
    • eoyguy

      The funniest thing about your entire rant is equating atheist to the ones crying and throwing themselves around on the floor. The only time I have seen that, outside of a 2 year old throwing a tantrum, is at a southern baptist or pentecostal gathering. LOTS of that stuff goes on there.

      May 5, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
    • tcppp12

      I will do none of those things. What I will do, however, is question whether or not YOU think Jesus would react to me the same way YOU have? He is YOUR savior. Do you think he condones your name calling, belittling, and judgement of others?

      May 5, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
    • rickdday

      Men of reason and reasonable men have once again let christians know it. That though we heard and see your Tantrums, your belly aching and your whining, that doesn't mean we're listening to you, much less paying any attention to you. Now, go ahead and throw yourselves on the floor.

      christianity is Absolute, Complete and Total NONSENSE [stupidity]. All men of reason and reasonable men can and do understand that and more. We all know that christians are extremely hypocritical and compulsive pathological Liars. Even apes have more social Graces than christians! That's why even in Hollywood of all places they're NOT listening to you, though they hear you. Go ahead now bark, bellyache, complaint, cry, howl, squeal, whine, throw yourselves on the floor and behave just like the Epilepsy called you all.

      May 6, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
  7. Concert in an Egg

    I can almost understand the whole god(s) thing. Believing in a higher power. What I don't get is religion. Why the worshipping and the dogma and the mistreatment of others who don't believe. Religion is a curse on humanity, perpetrated by those seeking power and carried out by the sheep people who are only oh so willing to pay for the charade with money they could use for many other important purposes.

    May 5, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
    • halfdime1

      Im in the same boat Egg. I can almost, almost see the whole god thing. This is a stretch toward deism, but Im always going to be skeptical until i see something for my self. Even then I would have doubts, because even if afforded proof, I would assume that I was suffering a delusion, or misapprehenshion. I too think that religion is a scorn, and that if people wanted to believe in a god, that they would go to deism at least.

      May 6, 2014 at 3:51 am |
  8. Concert in an Egg

    When I was a little kid, I had pretty much the same arguments with little Christian kids then that I have with adults on this blog 40 years later. Amazing. Once the indoctrination is complete, few helpless believers can escape it.

    May 5, 2014 at 6:44 pm |
  9. Concert in an Egg

    I used to get in trouble all the time in grade school for not saying the lords prayer or holding my hand over my heart.

    May 5, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Here's hoping you did not attend a public school.

      May 5, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        Yes GOPer, public.

        May 5, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Hmm, Well that raises my hackles. "Under God" in the pledge is annoying enough for me. The Lord's Prayer is way out of bounds.

        What decade and in what state, if you don't mind my asking?

        May 5, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          In the 70's – Oklahoma and Kansas

          May 5, 2014 at 6:17 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          School prayer was definitively illegal after Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971) when the "Lemon Test" was introduced.

          I can imagine it taking time for old habits to work their way out of the system. After all the Confederate battle flag lasted on multiple state flags for a long time too.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          This would have been right around then. Late 60's early 70's.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
    • kenmargo

      @concert....How long ago did this happen to you? I can't imagine it happening now in the last 10 years or so.

      May 5, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        This was in the 70's.

        May 5, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      I went to school in the Bible Belt and prayer was a big NO NO.

      The only spiritual talk allowed was "school spirit". Cheer on the football team!

      Obey the government, trust your leaders and don't question authority. We are secular so we are good.

      May 5, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        You are likely younger than I am. I also went to school in the bible belt. Oklahoma and Kansas.

        I refused to pray at bible school lol. They really hated me there.

        May 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I went to school in Kansas. All through the 1980's up to 1992.

          We didn't have a public bible school.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          sorry, I didn't mean the bible school was public. that was at the First Christian Church in my small town.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          You were probably in the southern part? West or east side?

          I was visiting my grandparents in SE Kansas. My sister and I went to play basketball at a court by a church. Somebody came out and told my sister she was welcomed to play ball on the court, but she would need to put on some pants. Shorts were not allowed for females.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          Northwest.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm NE. KC, basically.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          I lived in Liberal, KS for sometime and a short time in Garden City. I mostly grew up in Oklahoma though.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:21 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Concert,

          Are you familiar with Woodward and Guymon? I grew up in Oklahoma and we played some epic football games against them.

          May 5, 2014 at 8:05 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Dala,

          If you know Columbus and Pittsburg, I have/had family there.

          May 5, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          @Sungrazer

          Yes! Been to both towns a few times.

          May 5, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        It's still an issue in southeast Texas.

        Google Kountze High School cheerleaders.

        May 5, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Freedom of speech...just watch what you say!

          May 5, 2014 at 6:38 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Freedom of speech and freedom of, and from, religion are at odds *all* the time.

          There are limits on freedom of speech. This is about respect for those with different beliefs.

          When it contravenes other first amendment rights, in context, one can take precedence over the other.

          The Kountze high school cheerleaders can fill their church or their front yards with all the bible phrases they want and their right to free speech is not in any way abridged. It's disrespectful to project this as the official position of the public school.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:49 pm |
  10. MidwestKen

    Wow, couldn't disagree more. (Well not much more)

    May 5, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
  11. Vic

    From the article:
    [
    "The prayer united the mostly Christian Founding Fathers, and the rest is history, Kennedy writes.

    So, the justice suggests, as long prayers at public meetings don't fall into a pattern of proselytizing, denigrating nonbelievers or threatening damnation, what's the problem?"

    "“This has always been a praying nation, despite its very secular Constitution,” said Peter J. Woolley, professor of comparative politics at Fairleigh Dickinson in Hackensack, New Jersey."
    ]

    I believe that civility requires acknowledging that most people choose to keep their long held traditions, given that there is no harm in that.

    In other related news, President Obama sided with Greece, NY.

    May 5, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Consti.tution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?

      In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Consti.tution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.

      – James Madison, fourth President and framer of the Consti.tution of the United States

      (The purpose of the Chaplain was to give the blessing.)

      May 5, 2014 at 5:40 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "I believe that civility requires acknowledging that most people choose to keep their long held traditions, given that there is no harm in that."

      I don't have any argument with that. So long as people consider it a ceremonial formality and not a requirement.

      Are you ready for a Satanist to give the blessing – either in Greece, NY, or in Congress?

      May 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
      • Vic

        Notice I indicated "most people," hence the majority.

        May 5, 2014 at 5:56 pm |
    • kenmargo

      The bigots think he's a muslim anyway so it doesn't matter what he thinks.

      May 5, 2014 at 6:02 pm |
      • Vic

        Well, he confessed his Christian Faith.

        May 5, 2014 at 6:13 pm |
        • kenmargo

          The bigots don't believe he's a christian. So how does his "confession" mean anything.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          He's also a politician. I am not too sure what he really believes. My impression is that he's not very religious.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
        • kenmargo

          @Sun.....................He's been very consistent. He's a christian.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
        • Vic

          Of course it does.

          Romans 10:9
          "9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;" (NASB)

          Politician, not religious, etc. has no bearing on being a Christian. Plus, all US Presidents have been Christians.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:33 pm |
        • kenmargo

          @Vic............What you need to do is go to washington and talk to the republicans and tea partiers that don't believe he's a christian. Quote the bible to them. Then watch them laugh in YOUR face.

          May 5, 2014 at 6:37 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Ken,

          He's consistent in what he says. That's my point. He's a politician. The Obamas rarely go to church, if that's worth anything. I don't think he's much of a believer.

          May 5, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
        • kenmargo

          @Sun........Mitt Romney is a politician. Is he consistent with what he says? How much free time do you think Obama has to go to church? He doesn't have off on Sundays! Obama has also stated he doesn't want to be a distraction for others at the church. (think of the security)

          May 5, 2014 at 8:17 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Ken,

          There are stats on presidential church attendance. For example, W went way, way more than Obama. So yes, absolutely there is time.

          May 5, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
        • kenmargo

          I knew it would come out sooner or later. The bush comparison. Lets see.

          Obama got Bin Laden. Bush didn't
          The economy is recovering under Obama. Tanked under bush.
          Bush wasted a trillion bucks on the Iraq war.
          Bush didn't pay for medicare part D.
          Obama saved the auto industry. Bush passed the buck.
          bush went on vacation WAY MORE than Obama. I guess when you're on vacay, you have time to go to church.

          I guess you're another Obama hater that needs something to get on the prez about. The birther thing is out the window, nobody talks about that. They've stopped saying he hates the country. Remember those "death panels" that lie has stopped also. So the best you can come up with is "he's not at church on Sunday". WOW.

          May 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Ken,

          What? Seriously, what??

          I am a liberal. I voted for Obama twice. I think W was one of the worst U.S. presidents.

          My ONLY point in our conversation was that I don't take politicians at their word. If Obama says he's a Christian, I think there are political reasons behind it: namely, to get voted President. I'm not the only one who suspects that he is not truly religious.

          I have no idea where you are coming from.

          May 5, 2014 at 9:30 pm |
        • kenmargo

          @sun..............Why would you even bring up bush then? Whether he goes to church doesn't matter. If bush went to church as much as you think, It sure didn't help him during his presidency! Apparently god wasn't listening (or maybe god was and this is what bush wanted!) It wouldn't change things anyway. ALL politicians say things to get elected. (Execept the wacko extremist repubs.) I can't stand bush either. I only refer to him when I think an Obama hater starts whining.

          May 5, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
  12. ogamidiagoro

    I would suggest that while they pray, the others should sing an annoying song loudly or perhaps belch and pass gas.

    May 5, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Funny – albeit inappropriate.

      How about all the town's pastors give the benediction all at once, and throw in a secular humanist so no-one feels left out? It would be like speaking in tongues!

      May 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
    • kenmargo

      Honestly it isn't worth the time. Just ignore the prayers. Have a silent protest by walking out when the prayers start.

      May 5, 2014 at 5:34 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yep. Same as before.

      May 5, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I had a bad feeling about them even bringing this case before this particular court.

      The consequences could be worse than if the case had not been raised at all.

      May 5, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        I just hope that Macy Matthews, et al.*, v. Kountze Independent School District doesn't come before this court.

        * the Kountze High School Cheerleaders

        The arrogance of messages like "If God is for us, who can be against us?" has no place in a public school football game.

        This latest ruling and the Kuntze case opens the door for a reversal of cases like Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe 530 U.S. 290 (2000), where student-led and student-initiated prayers conducted over a loudspeaker during football games were ruled unconst.itutional.

        May 5, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      I've solved problems like that in that manner before. It works well.

      Free speech is free speech for us all.

      May 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
    • halfdime1

      Hah, I had similar thoughts, like athiest should sing the song from the end of Life of Brian loudly, Muslims chant Allahu Akbar loudly etc.

      May 6, 2014 at 3:56 am |
  13. kenmargo

    Just ignore the prayers (god certainly does) just make sure you vote for people that share your views.

    May 5, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
    • flightfromfrostmtn

      WISDOM! AHHHHHH....runaway runaway!!!

      it just gets the better of me sometimes and i pitch a fit.

      May 5, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
  14. Reality

    Easy does out there. The SCOTUS, Congress, state legislatures and probably most If not all regulating bodies start their meetings with some form of prayer. So how could the SCOTUS rule otherwise? .

    "Nothing could be further from the truth," added Alito. "All that the court does today is to allow a town to follow a practice that we have previously held is permissible for Congress and state legislatures."

    If I lived in Greece, NY, the following would be my recommendation for their opening prayer:

    The Apostles'/Agnostics’/Atheists' Creed 2014: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    If anyone from Greece, NY wants to submit this Creed for the opening prayer at your town's next meeting, go for it.

    May 5, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
  15. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    This opinion by the SCOTUS was inevitable – again a 5-4 decision based on politics.

    One can argue that this is just business as usual and nothing really changes, but I'd argue that this decision creates a green light for further politicizing of religion.

    I wish James Madison hadn't rolled over on this one and instead revoked the practice of allowing a Congressional chaplain.

    May 5, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      From Madison's 'Detached Memoranda' (written after he was President):

      Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Consti.tution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?

      In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Consti.tution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Const.ituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation.

      The establishment of the chaplainship to Congs is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Consti.tutional principles: The tenets of the chaplains elected [by the majority] shut the door of worship agst the members whose creeds & consciences forbid a participation in that of the majority. To say nothing of other sects, this is the case with that of Roman Catholics & Quakers who have always had members in one or both of the Legislative branches. Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain? To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the evil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers. or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor.

      If Religion consist in voluntary acts of individuals, singly, or voluntarily associated, and it be proper that public functionaries, as well as their Const.ituents shd discharge their religious duties, let them like their Const.ituents, do so at their own expence. How small a contribution from each member of Congs wd suffice for the purpose? How just wd it be in its principle? How noble in its exemplary sacrifice to the genius of the Consti.tution; and the divine right of conscience? Why should the expence of a religious worship be allowed for the Legislature, be paid by the public, more than that for the Ex. or Judiciary branch of the Govt

      Were the establishment to be tried by its fruits, are not the daily devotions conducted by these legal Ecclesiastics, already degenerating into a scanty attendance, and a tiresome formality?

      Rather than let this step beyond the landmarks of power have the effect of a legitimate precedent, it will be better to apply to it the legal aphorism de minimis non curat lex: or to class it cum "maculis quas aut incuria fudit, aut humana parum cavit natura."

      Madison essentially decided to pick his battles and focus on 'bigger' issues: (de minimus non curat lex = the law does not deal with trifles)

      And now, once more, so do we.

      May 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Madison's thoughts in this matter are very different from the opinion expressed by Justice Kennedy.

      May 5, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
  16. flightfromfrostmtn

    Correct me if im wrong but arent these 'justices' supposed to interpret the law in a fair, balanced and impartial manner?

    Secular society....this means we should all be free of a particular religious practice or influence ESPECIALLY in the halls of government.

    this nation is in trouble....this SCOTUS just keeps the hits coming.

    May 5, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
  17. colin31714

    Image I built a golden calf. I put it on an altar and I assured everybody that if you prayed to it, it would answer your prayers. Now think about what would happen when people prayed to it. Most times what they asked for would not transpire. Every now and then, through sheer luck, it would.

    Now, if people doubted my golden calf, how would I respond? I bet I would say things like:

    1. The golden calf always answers prayers, it’s just that sometimes the answer is “no” or “not yet.”

    2. The golden calf moves in mysterious ways.

    3. The golden calf knows what is best for you. You should take into account the bigger picture.

    4. Sometimes the golden calf has a plan for us all. In the long run HE looks out for you.

    5. You should not question the golden calf.

    6. Sometimes I thank the Golden Calf for “unanswered prayers.”

    Now think about the excuses Christians give when God does not answer prayers. See any difference?

    May 5, 2014 at 4:35 pm |
  18. flightfromfrostmtn

    Yup – religion rocks....should be kept around a few centuries more....foolish..deluded and foolish.

    May 5, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
  19. colin31714

    Justices who believe in the Judeo-Christian sky-fairy voting to uphold prayers offered to the Judeo-Christian sky fairy. No huge surprise there.

    May 5, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
  20. Dresden

    Wise decision!

    May 5, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
    • gulliblenomore

      On what basis was this a wise decision?

      May 5, 2014 at 4:42 pm |
    • In Santa We Trust

      So you'd be happy to have Muslim or Hindu prayers at your town meetings?

      May 5, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
      • jamaljk85

        Read the ruling. Hindus and Muslims didn't found this nation.

        May 5, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
        • geladius

          Neither did Jesus....he never made it in time.

          May 5, 2014 at 8:05 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          So....where in the ruling does it say that the prayer must be about your invisible, unproven god? I don't believe it says anything about the prayer being confined to Christianity only.

          May 5, 2014 at 8:33 pm |
        • tcppp12

          That has NOTHING to do with it.

          May 5, 2014 at 9:07 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.