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Atheist gets her day at the Supreme Court
November 1st, 2013
04:39 PM ET

Atheist gets her day at the Supreme Court

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

(CNN)– Linda Stephens has lived in her upstate New York community for more than three decades and has long been active in civic affairs.

But as an atheist, those views have put her at the center of a personal, political, and legal fight that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

The issue is public prayer at her local town board meetings, another contentious case over the intersection of faith and the civic arena.

The justices on Wednesday will hear arguments over whether Greece, New York, may continue sponsoring what it calls "inclusive" prayers at its open sessions, on government property.

Stephens and co-plaintiff Susan Galloway have challenged the policy, saying virtually all of those invited to offer legislative prayers over the years were Christians.

"It's very divisive when you bring government into religion," Stephens told CNN from her home.

"I don't believe in God, and Susan is Jewish, so to hear these ministers talk about Jesus and even have some of them who personally question our motives, it's just not appropriate."

The town of about 94,000 residents counters that after concerns from the two women and others, it sought diverse voices, including a Wiccan priestess, to offer invocations. Officials say they do not review the content of the remarks, nor censor any language.

"The faith of the prayer giver does not matter at all," said John Auberger, Greece's board supervisor, who began the practice shortly after taking office 1998. "We accept anyone who wants to come in and volunteer to give the prayer to open up our town meetings."

A federal appeals court in New York found the board's policy to be an unconstitutional violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which forbids any government "endorsement" of religion.

Those judges said it had the effect of "affiliating the town with Christianity."

"To the extent that the state cannot make demands regarding the content of legislative prayers," said Judge Guido Calabresi, "municipalities have few means to forestall the prayer-giver who cannot resist the urge to proselytize. These difficulties may well prompt municipalities to pause and think carefully before adopting legislative prayer, but they are not grounds on which to preclude its practice."

Some legal experts say while the high court has allowed public prayers in general, it has not set boundaries on when they might become too sectarian in nature.

"The case involves a test between two different kinds of legal rules," said Thomas Goldstein, SCOTUSblog.com publisher and a leading Washington attorney.

"The Supreme Court has broadly approved legislative prayer without asking too many questions. But in other cases where the government is involved with religion, it has looked at lots of different circumstances. So we just don't know whether this court will be completely approving of legislative prayers in this instance."

The justices are now being asked to offer more firm guidelines over when and if such public prayers are constitutionally acceptable.

Felt marginalized

Galloway and Stephens say the elected board of the community outside Rochester almost always invited Christian clergy to open the meetings, usually with sectarian prayers. And they say they felt "marginalized" by the practice.

"When we tried to speak with the town, we were told basically if we didn't like the prayers, we didn't have to listen," said Stephens, "or could stand out in the hallway while they were going on."

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Washington-based group that is representing the two women, cited records showing that between 1999 and 2010, approximately two-thirds of the invocations contained the words "Jesus Christ," Jesus," Holy Spirit," or "Your Son."

And the lawsuit claims that from 1999 through 2007, every meeting had a Christian-only invocation. Following the complaints from the plaintiffs, four other faiths were invited in 2008, including a Baha'i leader and a Jewish lay person.

The plaintiffs say the Christian-only invocations resumed from January 2009 through June 2010. They claim those invited to the monthly meetings were selected by a city employee from a local guide that had no non-Christian faiths listed.

"Politics and religion simply don't mix, and they certainly don't mix in the local context of the Greece town council," said the Rev. Barry Lynn, AUSCS executive director.

"The town seems to take the position that because once or twice over a decade, it hears from someone of a different religion, that somehow is inclusive. It trivializes what's going here - a local government that should be willing and interested in participation of all its citizens, it wants those citizens to participate in an almost inevitably Christian prayer, in order to begin doing their business."

Different rulings

While the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York last year unanimously ruled against Greece's policy, other courts around the country have found such invocations - if inclusive and limited in scope - to be permissible.

Congress regularly opens its sessions with a prayer. Wednesday's invocation by House Chaplain the Rev. Patrick Conroy began: "Eternal God, we give you thanks for giving us another day. Once again, we come to ask wisdom, patience, peace, and understanding for the members of this people's House."

Nearly 120 members of Congress, mostly Republicans, along with several state attorneys general have filed supporting legal briefs backing the city. So has the Obama administration.

"The history of prayers offered in connection with legislative deliberation in this country makes clear that a legislative body need not affirmatively solicit a court-mandated variety of different religious faiths– from inside and outside the borders governed by the legislative body– in order to avoid running afoul of the Establishment Clause," said Justice Department lawyers' in their amicus brief.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal ministry based in Scottsdale, Arizona, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Greece Town Board, saying the Supreme Court has upheld the practice of government bodies "to acknowledge America's religious heritage and invoke divine guidance and blessings upon their work."

"A few people should not be able to extinguish the traditions of our nation merely because they heard something they didn't like," said Brett Harvey, an attorney for the group. "Because the authors of the Constitution invoked God's blessing on public proceedings, this tradition shouldn't suddenly be deemed unconstitutional."

Stephens realizes the stakes are high for her community and for the law as a whole. But on a personal level, this legal fight has been tough.

"I've received something of a backlash, both Susan and me," the retired librarian said. "Threatening letters, some vandalism to my property, things like that. The prayers, and all the controversy, it makes you feel like an outcast, like we don't count in our town."

The case is Town of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway (12-696). A ruling is expected by early summer.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Courts

soundoff (6,237 Responses)
  1. Joe O

    Atheism is a Religion, itself, as it takes Faith to believe in something that cannot be proven. It would be different if she was an agnostic, but that is a different thing.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16RCvtziXj0

      November 6, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • sirhuxley

      Well then, not believing in Leprechauns is a religion too, how about Unicorns? Not believing in them must also be a religion.

      Jesus and Unicorns are equally supported by evidence so I just love it when religionists say that Atheism requires "faith"

      Faith is a mystical word these days, it can mean just about anything!

      November 6, 2013 at 10:54 am |
      • Bullfeathers

        Jesus is a factual and historic figure, regardless of your beliefs. I'm having trouble finding historical evidence of unicorns. Maybe you can point me to the correct literature.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:57 am |
        • Bible Clown©

          All the factual histories of Jesus report that he was crucified and never seen again. You ok with that as proof?

          November 6, 2013 at 11:11 am |
        • ScienceSoma

          The existence of a man named Jesus in antiquity and the claim that he is the son of an omnipotent being who performed miracles and died for your sins are two completely different things. Pharoahs were real people but were considered gods on earth. According to your argument, because they existed as actual humans they are therefore also gods. False.

          November 6, 2013 at 11:12 am |
        • sirhuxley

          No, its really true, the ONLY historical references to jesus come from the new testament, all others, those of josephus and eusebius are demonstrable forgeries.

          The tacitus references relate to "Christus" which is a greek word that means "savior" but that was a word that was commonly used by Romans to refer to captured jewish rebels, to that one last reference has nothing to do with the Jeebman.

          November 6, 2013 at 11:30 am |
        • Bible Clown©

          Tacitus is the most reliable source and he barely mentions Jesus.

          November 6, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Rochester

      Just like baldness is a hair color.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • ScienceSoma

      You could not be more wrong. Atheism is imply the lack of a belief in a god or god(s). That is where the similarity among athiests ends. It takes more faith to believe in something for which there is no evidence then to not believe in the first place. Your error is in assuming a belief in a god is the default position – it is not. The default position with any argument is not to believe until evidence is presented. Your argument is the same as me writing down that I have magic unicorns in my basement that grant me wishes and saying everyone who does not believe it is religious because it requires faith not to believe what I say. Your often repeated argument is completely incorrect.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:07 am |
      • Bible Clown©

        So, if you don't believe in Atheism, then your religion is anti-atheism instead of Christianity, right? You guys crack me up.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • sirhuxley

          You are indeed a clown.

          November 6, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • Ernest T Bass

          He doesn't believe in not believing..... LOL

          November 6, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Andrew

      'Atheism is a religion.' Ugh. That lamo claim again? Besides being untrue, for the life of me I do not understand why you theists think it is a worthwhile point to make. Even it were true it just bolsters the case that prayer by magistrates during a public event is dead wrong, because it has magistrates of the state making an official proclamation that a particular religion is wrong – equivalent to saying, "Let us bow our heads and recite that Judaism is a crock."

      I don't get it. I guess you guys think atheists might be insulted by the claim, and that is why you do it? I guess it *is* a bit insulting to reason as is all bad reasoning, but so are a lot of things, no skin off my teeth.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • Bible Clown©

        For some people, it is a religion. But Atheism is not a religion itself. Come on, I mean do you believe in Doctor Doom? No? You mean you have a whole church with meetings and a book all about Doctor Doom not being real? Do you send out missionaries to developing countries and tell them the Good Word about there not being a real Doctor Doom?

        Christ, your people have brain problems and they are incredibly cruel to people they dislike. Why did you teach them to be so awful?

        November 6, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
      • Sara

        They see atheists critiquing 'religion' and think that if they can show atheists are religious it will stop. The problem is the folks who engage in this don't really understand what either religion or atheism are so they just come off sounding silly.

        November 6, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  2. Barbara

    It would only make sense if she wins because the Atheist rights and views are the only ones that count and the world does revolve around them.....at least that's what they think.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • more2bits

      Every religion wants to be the boss and totally convert everyone else. Such BS.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I like your technique.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXz-fOtKBU8

      November 6, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      You are sooo right .. I don't believe in unicorns and I must have the world revolve around me!

      -or- to read between the lines you wrote .. I'm not getting my way so no one should get their way and I'm going to be snarky about it!!

      November 6, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • ScienceSoma

      If you read the article it says her friend is a Jew and was also offended by the frequent Christian prayers. So, by your logic, if they win, Jews also get what they want because the world revolves around them. History may differ with that view a bit.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Why is it necessary for you Christians to tell such awful lies about atheists? Aren't you commanded not to bear false witness? Commanded to love your fellow man? And don't you know perfectly well what you are saying about atheists is BS? Why do you do it? It seems to prove that you defend religion with no fear of an actual god.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • G to the T

      Once more for the kids in the back: "Secular" does NOT equal "Atheistic". Secular is "blind" in regards to religious views, it is NEUTRAL. That's all people are asking for. NO ONE is asking anyone to stop believing, they are only asking that the government represent everyone, not just those of a particular belief system (not even atheism).

      November 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  3. sirhuxley

    Stupid Christians want to mix religion and government, well, just like we have two parties pretty soon we'll have Islamists wanting to have their say too, then what?

    Are we going to have sectarian warfare in America like the Sociopath Elite would like?

    Allowing Christianity to encroach on government even trivial city meetings in this hick town have the effect of associating government POWER (ie. the Police) with Christianity.

    Well, everyone, including Christian Americans should want a SECULAR state approach because our system can't do anything to legislate Islam out of the game, so we need to continue the wise policy of completely rejecting Religion as far as Government is concerned.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Barbara

      Stupid Christians?! Glad to see you are taking the high road....

      November 6, 2013 at 10:48 am |
      • cosmok

        My thought exactly.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          😉

          November 6, 2013 at 10:51 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        😉

        November 6, 2013 at 10:50 am |
  4. Stephen

    Our "Founding Fathers" were for the most part diests. They believed in a "God" or "Supreme Being". Not neccesarily a "Christian" God. If the prayers were to "God", or "Heavely Protector", that might be ok, but if you are not Christian, "God", and "Jesus" are not the same thing.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • more2bits

      Our founding fathers were running from the supreme coercion of the church in Europe. They didn't want a repeat of total control exercised by European churches over the 'state'. Get your facts right.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • dylncox

      Not true.

      You can't say "for the most part" if only a small minority of them were actually deists.

      Of the 55 founding fathers, 49 were Protestant, and 2 were Roman Catholic. The rest were deists. So, 55-51 = 3... Three deists? That's hardly "for the most part".

      November 6, 2013 at 10:57 am |
      • Sara

        Deists usually belonged to religious sects not officially declared as deist, so you have to look at the individual writings. Of Morris' core founders we get:

        John Adams – quasi deist
        Benjamin Franklin – self-declared deist
        Alexander Hamilton – not deist
        John Jay – not deist
        Thomas Jefferson – deist
        James Madison – probably deist
        George Washington – probably deist

        I'd call it 4-4.5 out of seven. Not that I think it matters or should influence us any more than the whether various founders owned slaves or thought bleeding a good medical treatment.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  5. Frank Fortune

    what do you call an atheist who doesn't care if other people express their faith in a religion? anyway, that's what i am... that's like getting offended by a conversation that you're not a part of...

    November 6, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • more2bits

      Express your faith in private. Religion has no place in public places otherwise it's using public–government land–to proselytize.your religion. That's clearly a violation of separation of church and state. Get a life.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:45 am |
      • cosmok

        But it's okay for Atheists to take out a billboard ad in Times Square with the message: "Keep the Merry!" (picture of Santa Claus). "Dump the Myth!" (picture of Jesus).

        November 6, 2013 at 10:56 am |
        • G to the T

          Absolutely, why wouldn't it be? One is a privately sponsored billboard and the other is a civic function. The creationists recently did their own billboard in response, AND THAT'S FINE. What isn't fine is a government that isn't neutral to religious belief in general. Remember – secularism doesn't equate atheism. It only means the govt it NEUTRAL in regards to ALL religious positions.

          November 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
      • dylncox

        Do you even know what the separation of church and state is? The first amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

        That has nothing to do with what you're arguing. It's saying the government can't force you to follow a certain religion, or disallow religions from being practiced.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • G to the T

          Almost... what it's saying is that government should be "blind" to religion and not show favoritism to any one religious position (which could indeed end up in the state you mentioned). Now that being said, what is the best way for govt to be "blind" – the answer is secularism. A wall of separation between govt and religion. It protects EVERYONE that way, not just the majority view.

          November 6, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
      • Jason

        When will people realize you can't violate the "separation of church and state". The law doesn't exist.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:03 am |
        • Ernest T Bass

          "The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States ConstLtution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion"

          November 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  6. Jason

    The Gays and Atheist are becoming the ruling cultures in this country!

    November 6, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      You go, girlfriend.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:37 am |
      • You're Almost There

        10/10

        November 6, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • HotAirAce

      And there wouldn't be a thing wrong with that if true!

      November 6, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • J Gaston

      Yep, the gays run this country.... You can totally tell by the way they're able to get married in every state and not get fired from a job just because their gay.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:40 am |
      • You're Almost There

        They can't get married in every state.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:39 am |
        • You're Almost There

          Oh. I get it. Woooosh

          November 6, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • E

      ...and who should be the ruling culture? Christians? Maybe there shouldn't be one. Maybe no one outside of your house and church should even know what your religious affiliation is. Your mind is closed.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Barbara

      Right...you would think they were the only people in this world.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • sirhuxley

      Thats right, and do you know why?

      Because we are sick of the Culture Wars, we are sick of GOP candidates starting wars for oil, we are sick of manufactured financial crises, we are sick crony capitalism, we are sick of the Christian influence that handed the keys to the kingdom to the idiots that we now have in congress.

      When we finally do take over, and we will, the world is going to be much better off.

      The scientific method and evidence will be applied to government problem solving.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • clarkgee

      Atheist are people who are like lost leeches. They benefit from living in a Christian based culture/society and blindly claim they don't believe that God is real. They even deny that a world without the love of God means a world of lawlessness... When actually the foundation of the so called universal laws can be found in the 5 books of laws in the Holy Bible. Which means God is a justice and love. Therefore, for Atheist to seek justice arguing their nonbelief is again practicing the self denial of the truth we all live in.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:28 am |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        By a "Christian based culture/society" do you mean America? Where there is justice for all whom God loves?

        November 6, 2013 at 11:46 am |
      • thinkb4speaking

        "When actually the foundation of the so called universal laws can be found in the 5 books of laws in the Holy Bible. " – civilizations existed long before these books were written and these civilizations had their own laws. It astounds me that people still think that without the Decalogue there can be no morality or ethics.

        November 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  7. Riley Searles

    So many angry people getting caught up in such a stupid deal. Why waste time and money because of someone stepping on someones feel goods? Grow up! Get over yourself.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Billy

      I'm sure this was one of the lame arguments for those opposed to getting Bible readings removed from public schools.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Jackson

      Tell a church they need to perform gay weddings, and the church gets up in arms and tells the government to stay out of religion.

      Funny how religion wants government out of religion, but has ZERO problem when religion is involved in government.

      Blatant hypocrisy.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:35 am |
      • HotAirAce

        While I agree with your point, let's not feed the believer crazies untruths to spin back at as. As in, I don't believe any church has been forced or even been told to marry anyone, straight or gay. All the government has done is legalize gay marriage under the law. As an atheist, I fully support every religious cult's right to admit and/or marry anyone they like, without interference from the government.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  8. Matthew

    Prayer is freedom of speech.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Luke

      They hate free speech like they hate jesus

      November 6, 2013 at 10:36 am |
      • John

        They hope to eliminate Christians from the face of the earth.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:38 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          😉

          November 6, 2013 at 10:40 am |
        • Mark

          They hate god more than life. They hate everything except their humor.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:40 am |
        • Mark

          Liars.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:41 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Christians are not special. I hope to see the end of all religion, at least in public. Well, I would leave some room for believers to be entertainers, just like astrologists.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:42 am |
      • Rochester

        I don't hate Jesus – I just reject his divinity. If you strip away all of the trappings, he said some pretty good stuff.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:41 am |
      • sirhuxley

        Nope we don't hate jeebus, how could we hate someone who never even existed?

        No we hate crony capitalism, we hate culture wars, we hate the anti-woman stance of christians, we hate the anti-gay, we hate the anti-education, the anti-science.

        Those things are worth hating.

        Jesus? well, he is just a figment of your imagination.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • janine

      Not when it's mandated. By that warped logic, daily chants of "praising the dear leader" in totalitarian regimes is also free speech.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:39 am |
      • Matthew

        No one is mandating it; if you don't want to participate, you don't have to. I agree that it shouldn't be required; however, it shouldn't be banned either.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Paul

          The only way not to participate is not to attend. Religion is not part of government and should not be imposed on those who wish to participate in government.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:48 am |
        • Matthew

          You can attend and not pray.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:49 am |
        • Mark

          It shouldn't be in government. Period. Why is that so hard to understand?

          November 6, 2013 at 10:52 am |
        • Andrew

          You miss the point. You haven't thought it through. The issue isn't whether people are forced to pray or not. The issue is magistrates (a town council) praying to start the business. It is magistrates making it clear to people of different beliefs than the majority, that they are the minority, are wrong, are second class citizens, and are inevitably about to be the victim of discrimination and different consideration based on their religious beliefs (including the belief that god are myths). It is the state having am official position on atheism – a negative one.

          If you truly supported freedom you would have thought this through and come to this conclusion on your own and wouldn't need an atheist to explain it to you. But religious people have a long history of not really supporting freedom – of it being lip service more than anything.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:54 am |
        • Matthew

          The First Amendment prohibits the making of any law that impedes the free exercise of religion. As long as you have the right to not participate, I don't understand why anyone would have a problem with someone else exercising their First Amendment rights.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Doris

      All freedoms come with responsibilities – so that you don't infringe on the freedom of another. Why is that so difficult to understand?

      November 6, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Andrew

      Not if it is coming from magistrates about to make judgments (like a town council), right?

      A more obvious example for you: A judge making a statement in support of racism just before a trial involving people of different races isn't "freedom of speech", it is a perversion of justice and fairness. You haven't thought it through. You don't understand how to balance free speech with a separation of church and state.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • sirhuxley

      Well then Islamic Prayer is too!

      How about an Islamic political party right here in America? There is nothing you can do to stop it.

      Don't think its coming? It is, and if we don't reject religious encroachment on government then it will happen sooner than later.

      You christians might want to stop making so much fuss about religion and government and start being smart.

      Keep your prayers out of schools, football games, and government meetings.

      Keep your nonsensical delusions about spirits, demons, deities, and devils to YOURSELF because it is creepy to think that humans can still believe this nonsense given what we actually know about the universe.

      You are an evolved primate, get over it.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  9. Andrew

    It is an important case.

    It is very important for all government authorities to be neutral with regards to religion. And for decision-making bodies to begin praying obviously destroys this neutrality and makes it clear to atheists and people of minority religions that they are second class citizens and can expect to be treated unfairly as such.

    This is especially true in light of obvious alternatives to prayer rejected by theocrats, such as a group oath to fairness and justice and truth, or a moment of silence where people can do whatever they like. Theocrats have been quite clear that it is PRAYER they want – they WANT atheists and polytheists and people of minority religions to know they are the minority, they are wrong with regards to god as far as the theocrat is concerned, and it will be taken into account in the decisions, judgments and votes to follow.

    But the Supreme Court has a few theocrats of its own in its ranks. So a just decision is far from certain.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:33 am |
  10. Richard Weil

    Good for her. If people want to pray, fine, but not publicly on the property or time of a government that is using everybody's tax dollars and is supposed to represent everyone. Maybe a gentle form of Christianity is far removed from the madness of the Taliban, but forcing it on people puts it in the same spectrum. And agnostic/atheism aside, I wonder how those town officials would like seeing a Wiccan, Shi'ite, Hindu, or any of a thousand other non-Christian (let alone non-monothesistic) religions' members come in and lead a town council prayer. Better to stop the whole thing. Personally I have no belief, but respect those people have. But not in my face or on my dime. Should it be on yours?

    November 6, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Matthew

      Prayer should be allowed at government functions because freedom of speech should be protected at government functions. If any of us don't like what public officials say, then we have the right to vote them out.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:39 am |
      • HotAirAce

        Too bad SCOTUS disagrees with you. You have the right to believe whatever you like. You do not have the right to practice those beliefs wherever, whenever, however you want.

        What's wrong with "no religion in government ever"?

        November 6, 2013 at 10:46 am |
        • Matthew

          It's wrong because the First Amendment prohibits the making of any law that impedes the free exercise of religion.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:53 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Then you better get busy getting the already in place laws restricting free speech repealed. I suggest you barge into the next session of the SCOTUS to inform them they've got work to do, but don't be surprised if you get thrown out or worse.

          November 6, 2013 at 11:12 am |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        Reading of entrails and blood lettings should be allowed at gov. meetings, after all it's just freedom of speech, right? I like to start meetings with an hour long comedy monolog (I believe it put everyone in a better mood for making good decisions) so should I have the right to impose that on everyone at meetings? It doesn't hurt or indoctrinate anyone.

        -or-

        We could just have the meeting we're there for.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • Matthew

          If the people feel that what's being said by elected officials is a waste of time, the people can vote those officials out of office.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:58 am |
      • Ash

        However, it's using the time they should be solving problems and making decisions by having formal prayers that people may not even believe in. At a minimum, a moment of silence for whoever wants to pray to themselves could be allowed. This country is suppose to be accepting of people of all beliefs, but Christianity is always forced on people in many situations just because it's a majority. Then when someone tries to counter that, Christians act out with unchristian-like behavior that's hypocritical to their own beliefs and teachings.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • Matthew

          Christianity can't be forced on anyone because it's impossible for someone else to make you believe anything. That's like saying that banning praying is forcing atheism on everyone.

          November 6, 2013 at 11:10 am |
        • Katrina Wogoman

          How is that forcing you to be athiest? They aren't forcing you not to go to church on Sunday or pray at home or even in your car or office. If you become an athiest because you can't pray at the beginning of a government function, thats your own lack of belief... not the fault of the government.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
        • Katrina Wogoman

          Nevermind. I can't read today. Sorry.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  11. Jenny

    Stop putting non-belief stories in the (ugh) Belief (ugh) Blog!

    November 6, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      It's someone's belief that caused it to be an issue to begin with. That's why it's in the belief blog.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:32 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Pwnage (to use the parlance of our times).

        November 6, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Joseph

      Jenny, atheism is a belief. Just a different belief. They believe there is no god. No know can know what the truth is, some believe in God, some don't. It's all beliefs though.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:34 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Would you class aSkeletorism as 'a belief'?

        November 6, 2013 at 10:36 am |
      • Jake

        Well sort of. But if you consider atheism a belief, then you also have to consider everything you don't believe in a belief. Like your belief that you can't fly. Or your belief that there is no tooth fairy. Those are "beliefs" in the same way atheism is a belief. In other words, they are a lack of belief. If it weren't for your the concept of god, atheism wouldn't exist so it's not really a belief in the normal sense.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:38 am |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        It's not a belief, why is that so hard for so many of you to comprehend? Is your indoctrination so deep that you can't even comprehend not believing in something?

        Do you believe in flying unicorns? Does that mean you have a belief in not believing in flying unicorns .. no, it simply means you do not believe in them.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:41 am |
      • J.Iscariot

        If you believed that the Tooth Fairy was real and that you talked to her sometimes, and I say I do not think she is real, I do not think most people would agree it is the same thing. No scientific process starts by assuming a theory is real.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:43 am |
      • sirhuxley

        No you are wrong.

        Belief in things not supported by evidence is hearsay.

        Rejecting hearsay and waiting for evidence is Science.

        Science is not "belief" because science has shown that nothing is certain that there is too much mystery for us to understand.

        Religion and belief are the opposite, they offer certainty, they make good people do evil.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Andrew

      You imply you are okay with stories about polytheism, pantheism and other forms of theism on the belief blog. Well, that is what this case is all about... the special discrimination and scorn reserved for non-believers. There are many believers like you who think people just need to believe in a god, any god, even many gods, "JUST NOT NO GOD!" It is a character flaw, a national character flaw, akin to the islamic world finding criticism of the prophet to be unacceptable. The nation should fix this character flaw – hence this case. Kudos to the editor of the Belief Blog for understanding the importance of non-belief in any interesting discussion about belief.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  12. Tannim

    There is no need for prayer in government, since government is immoral and evil by definition, so an infinite amount of prayer done in an infinite amount of time in an evil setting by hoodwinked folks will accomplish zilch. And so far, it has done exactly that.

    Besides, the Christ told his followers to pray in private, not public. See Mt. 6:5-6.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Maybelline

      It IS EVIL!! Even Justice Scalia said Satan was a real dude!

      November 6, 2013 at 10:34 am |
      • Truth

        True – and here's proof!

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JuSfRgh0Vo

        November 6, 2013 at 10:35 am |
      • Valentina

        So did Christ.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  13. Riley Searles

    I am so tired of all this crap. If the atheist is against people praying, she should just stay away. I would not go after her because she says she doesn't believe in God! That is her choice to believe or not believe in whatever she wants. BUT, why go after the Christians who do believe in God. That is none of her business. I do believe in God and talk to Him every day. She has been given her rights for her beliefs, why are not Christians afforded the same?

    November 6, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      😉

      November 6, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • Sean Lynch

      They deny freedom of speech

      November 6, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Jake

      She should just stay away?! And I suppose if the atheist doesn't like voting in a church, they just shouldn't vote? This is our country too – you can't force us to endure your religious prayer to participate.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:35 am |
      • Riley Searles

        Oh, but I have to hear you Atheists curse my God and my people just because you are ignorant of truth? I have to listen to all the secular music at my grandkids Christmas programs so as not offend the atheists, Muslims or Buddhists and Christmas IS a religious holiday! My family should be offered the same rights. I just don't go to the programs anymore and neither do they. If you really think I meant for her to stay from voting, you are wrong. My son who works in retail was told he can't say Merry Christmas to shoppers, that is taking away his religious freedom. That doesn't bother you, it does me. I suppose if someone said God Bless you after a sneeze, you'd gripe about that!

        November 6, 2013 at 10:49 am |
        • dylncox

          Christmas is not a religious holiday: nor is Easter. I'm saying that as a Christian, by the way.

          For one, Jesus wasn't born in December, it was in the spring. Secondly, nowhere in the Bible does it say to celebrate God's birth or Resurrection. If you want to celebrate God, you can do that at church every Sunday – not turn a holiday into a worship service.

          It's a Catholic-inspired holiday, so take that however you want.

          Or you can just read http://www.warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org/bulletin_articles/122400.htm

          November 6, 2013 at 11:10 am |
        • Jake

          You don’t seem to understand the difference between individuals and government. You can pray wherever and whenever you want. It may not be appropriate to do so in many situations (like in a meeting at work), but it’s not illegal and I support your right to do that. However, in a public government meeting, religious prayer should not be part of the scripted structure of the meeting. If an individual citizen wants to say something about religion when it is their turn to speak, that’s absolutely their right.
          Your son chooses to work for that company. The company has every right to decide how they want their employees to speak to customers. If they don’t want him to say Merry Christmas because they think it will offend some customers, they can make that policy, just like they can tell your son not to swear at customers. He certainly has the choice whether or not he wants to work there, but the company has no obligation to allow him to express his religious views while on the job.
          I am not offended when someone says God Bless you, but frankly, it does lessen my opinion of that person.

          November 6, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      No one is going after "the Christians who do believe in God", they are going after people who are imposing their religious belief on others at public meetings.

      I love your solution of "she should just stay away". OMG, that's the whole point!
      How about believers of a religion should "just stay away" from PUBLIC meetings?! All they have to do is leave their religious beliefs out of the meeting.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • sirhuxley

      City meetings are NOT a church function.

      You think YOU are tired, I am. So why don't you Christians keep your religion to yourself?

      Keep it at church. We won't come to your church and tell you to stop praying.

      Now, evolution is a FACT, therefore YOU and everything that humans do are products of EVOLUTION, including your religion, so the fact that Christians don't accept evolution because it completely destroys the concept of "original sin" as enacted by Eve eating the apple in the Garden of Eden.

      Since evolution does not support the "creation", the garden of eden, original sin, then christians have to find a way to suppress those ideas, this is why they want to control all government functions.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:38 am |
      • Riley Searles

        Wow! Evolution is not a fact. You are free to believe what you want. So am I. Keep your evolution and Atheist beliefs our of my gatherings and keep it to yourself. What is good for me is good for you! That is what freedom is!

        November 6, 2013 at 10:51 am |
        • Jake

          It amazes me that people can be so delusional. There is no legitimate scientist on the planet that disputes evolution. How can you be so full of yourself to think that you are somehow qualified to dispute a world of experts on a subject that you are likely completely unqualified to evaluate?

          If you honestly think that evolution is disputable in the same way religion is, you are living in a fantasy world. One is based on actual scientific study and evidence. The other is based on a book, much of which has been proven to be wrong.

          November 6, 2013 at 11:03 am |
        • sirhuxley

          Actually I am going to start coming to your churches and preaching my own gospel of evolution.

          The truth will set you free...

          November 6, 2013 at 11:11 am |
        • Joey

          Yea Riley, and if you don't like it you can just leave.

          November 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Art

      You miss the point. The meetings are paid for with taxpayers' money. Having prayers means that the taxpayers are supporting religion. You have it backwards. It is YOU who can pray anytime YOU want. Why should she have to stay away from PUBLIC meetings paid for by HER tax money? You want to pray? Who's stopping you?

      November 6, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Live4Him

      Welcome my Christian sister to the agologetics battle.

      1 Peter 3:15 ... always being ready (apologia) to make a defense to everyone ...

      November 6, 2013 at 10:41 am |
      • Riley Searles

        Thank you. I knew what I was getting into. I pray over my food at lunch, but quietly. I am sure this might offend someone. I don't care. I am more concerned with offending my Father! It takes so much more faith to believe in evolution than in God. Take a look at the fall colors of the trees, look at a baby, stars and the sun and moon. THEY DID NOT JUST HAPPEN!

        November 6, 2013 at 10:56 am |
        • Jake

          I have to admit, it seems like you're living on another planet, so perhaps evolution didn't take place there. However, on this planet, believing in evolution takes precisely ZERO faith. It is based on tangible scientific findings – not faith-based unsupported theories.

          You do realize that science also understands why leaves change colors, etc, right?

          November 6, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      How about we make your kids bow to Mecca four times a day? You ok with that?

      November 6, 2013 at 10:42 am |
      • Riley Searles

        Are you? Would you join them? They can pray in public, why can't Christians?

        November 6, 2013 at 10:58 am |
        • sirhuxley

          You too can pray in public, no one has said you cannot.

          But when it comes to Government business, prayer has nothing to offer, besides most biblical scholars agree that jesus was a roman ruse.

          Besides, we humans are perfectly capable of deciding how to conduct our government business without bowing to demons, devils, deities, unicorns, leprechauns, or faeries.

          November 6, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " she should just stay away" Or you could save the Bible-banging for church, like the Bible orders you to. Public prayer is for hypocrites.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Jackson

      Please quote the section of her complaint where she is taking away their right to believe.

      Prayer has no place in a government meeting. It really IS just that simple. And, removing the prayer from the meeting does not deny your right to believe. If you cannot understand the difference, then you are too feeble minded to be allowed out of your house.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  14. IslandAtheist

    This problem isn't going to go away as long as government sponsored prayer continues.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Valentina

      You do realize that the federal government is one of the largest employers of clergy in the nation. That's not likely to change.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:40 am |
      • Doris

        References please. But if it were true – you can be certain that things will change. Millenials are leaving the church and many of them are leaving religion altogether.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  15. Live4Him

    @Blessed are the Cheesemakers : Why is it so important to you that others have to listen to your prayers? Every person at a city council meeting can pray silently any time they want.

    I actually agree with your idea here. I am generally opposed to public prayers – in almost every setting (including church). However, I do see the need to teach new believers how to pray, so some public prayers are needed. But, before a council meeting, legislative meeting, Supreme Court, in front of audience in a football game, or before taking the Presidential office? I don't think it is appropriate.

    At the same time, I'm opposed to teaching mandating religion – including Christianity, Islam and evolution. So I'm also opposed to teaching evolution in public schools. Would you agree to eliminating the following topics from public schools?

    1) Evolution
    2) Big Bang
    3) Safe sex

    If you're opposed to prayers in public settings AND these types of topics being taught in public schools, then I would agree that you are unbiased. Otherwise, I would argue that you just want YOUR beliefs taught, while hindering opposing beliefs.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Observer

      Live4Him,

      No. We should never eliminate science from school. Fossils should not be ignored.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:29 am |
      • Live4Him

        @Observer : We should never eliminate science from school. Fossils should not be ignored.

        Then would you agree that evidence AGAINST evolution be taught in schools too? Should the fact of dino soft tissue be taught in public schools to support a young earth? Or do you want to ignore some fossils while including others that support your a priori beliefs?

        November 6, 2013 at 10:36 am |
        • Art

          HUH? There is NO evidence against evolution. Not only do we have hard proof of the earth being billions of years old, but we have mathematical proof of that fact. Math is never wrong, ever. Also, if evolution does not exist, then how come we have different races, different hair and eye colors, and so many other physical differences between humans? If we all are descended from the same 2 people and there is no evolution, then all humans should look more or less alike.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Jake

          Uh, what?! Don't teach EVOLUTION in public schools?! Are you crazy? If we're not going to teach children about the world as we know it, what exactly would we send them to school for? You speak of evolution as if it's a religion, which is insane.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:45 am |
        • Chris

          I don't know why Young Earth Creationists have seized upon this. The rocks around said dinosaur were 68 million years old. Carbon dating showed the same. Every form of dating (direct and rock) point to the T. Rex in question being a very, very old lady.

          There are still a LOT of people trying to figure out how soft tissue survived eons buried in the ground, but frankly, that's why we love science. 🙂

          November 6, 2013 at 10:55 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Lie4Him
          Schweitzer's research has been hijacked by "young earth" creationists; being that the scientist that made the discovery says you are twisting her findings says a lot about your ethics. Lying for your delusional god beliefs is dishonest at best.

          November 6, 2013 at 11:38 am |
        • Peregrine

          L4h, two words, Dover trial. That battle has been fought and lost ( in front of a Christian, republican judge I might add).

          November 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
        • Peregrine

          L4h, two words, Dover trial. That battle has been fought and lost ( in front of a Christian, republican judge I might add).

          November 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
      • jayluv67

        We also have hard proof you can't get something from nothing

        November 6, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • Ernest T Bass

          ok, I'll play.... and how does this statement, right or wrong, provide evidence of a god?

          November 6, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Richard Weil

      In what way is evolution a religion? Science gathers observable facts, makes deductions and inferences, and develops theories. People are encouraged to test them and, if they are wrong then they get thrown out and new ones are developed. This is totally different from religion where "truth" is "revealed" and generally is not to be fundamentally questioned. Granted some scientists get wedded to beliefs, but that's a human trait you can find anywhere and, if they are wrong, no one considers them infallible bishops but just wrong about some concepts. True, strongly opposing points of view can be marginalized, but if the facts support them eventually there is a shift in understanding to accommodate new discoveries. I guess a big difference from religion is is that the fundamental "why" is generally ignored for the "how"–science deals with what has, is, and could happen based on how the universe is actually known (or understood, or thought to based on what we know) to work. And that isn't a religion.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:37 am |
      • Live4Him

        @Richard Weil : In what way is evolution a religion? Science gathers observable facts, makes deductions and inferences, and develops theories.

        Sceince is a methodology that seeks to falsify a theory. If that theory cannot be falsified, it is accepted as truth. For example, evolution presupposes millions of years of time for evolution to occur. Yet, empirical evidence (i.e. pure science) shows that dino soft tissue (maximum survivability limit : 10,000 years) exists. Does this falsify evolution? No. Instead, they are seeking to explain the unexplainable. Thus, it has become a religion, with the government funding its acceptence.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:52 am |
        • Madtown

          it has become a religion, with the government funding its acceptence.
          -----
          LOL!! Pure comedy. One the the scientists heading the NEW research on soft tissue within fossilized bone is a christian!! And, she doesn't for a moment believe the fossils are any younger than millions of years. Keep trying.

          November 6, 2013 at 11:05 am |
        • Sara

          "Sceince is a methodology that seeks to falsify a theory. If that theory cannot be falsified, it is accepted as truth."

          Seriously, where do you get this stuff? Do you have any idea the infinite amount of nonsense that would be "accepted as truth" if this were all there was to it? You live in a fantasy world.

          November 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
        • Joey

          Where is you evidence that under no circu.mstances dino soft tissue can last no more than 10,000 years?

          November 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      False equivalency; you want to say evolution is a religion. All the rest of your talk is smoke screen.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:03 am |
      • armageddon

        Bible Clown©, U R A PERVERT. U SUPPORT DONKEY PUNCH

        November 6, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  16. Christopher Wentzell

    Why are governments and the courtsbowing down to the pressures of the "few". Your great country's very foundation was built on God and His word. It is time that North American (Canada included) start to speak out. Our wolrd is falling apart and Canada and the US (two of the greatest countries in the world) are allowing non believers to erode these very principles. God wants true followers of Jesus to step up and be proud of who you are.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Doris

      "Your great country's very foundation was built on God and His word."

      No, it wasn't.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:27 am |
      • Eddie Arnold

        Oh yes it was, and that's the problem. People like you who have turned a blind eye to this countries foundation just so you can do as you please. You need to learn your history.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:33 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Oh no it wasn't.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:35 am |
        • Madtown

          You need to learn your history
          ---
          LOL. Irony alert!

          November 6, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Bible Clown©

          " You need to learn your history." He means you need to read some Glenn Beck pseudohistory, where Rev. George Washington and his Fighting Ministers drove off the Catholics and founded an Anglican country ruled by King George III.

          November 6, 2013 at 11:10 am |
      • Doris

        Rubbish. You're the one lacking history, Eddie.

        "The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

        Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind." –John Adams

        November 6, 2013 at 10:39 am |
      • Valentina

        Yes it was, Doris.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:41 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Nooop.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:45 am |
        • Doris

          NO it wasn't.

          ALSO – see what Stephen wrote several posts up about the deist God versus the Christian God of today...

          So wrong on multiple accounts.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • Live4Him

      Didn't Jesus Himself oppose public prayers, stating that the prayers were meant to honor the one giving the prayer rather than God? I'm with you on standing up for Christian values, but I include ALL the values taught by Christ – including the opposition to public prayers.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:30 am |
      • Madtown

        Matthew 6:6 for those who believe the bible is the ultimate authority.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:42 am |
        • Art

          That's the whole point. What about those who DON'T believe in Matthew 6:6?

          November 6, 2013 at 10:47 am |
        • Madtown

          Right! They should keep it to themselves also, if they desire to do it at all. Everyone should keep it to themselves.

          November 6, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Riley Searles

      That is excellent preaching Bro. I am a Christian woman who totally believes in God and that our country was founded on Godly principles. We need to take a stand, even if we get persecuted. We can't lose. We are secure that to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:32 am |
      • Art

        Excuse me... Persecuted? You have no idea what persecution is. Exactly how is banning prayers at a PUBLIC meeting paid for with PUBLIC money being persecuted? Who's stopping YOU from praying?

        November 6, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Nola

      The issue is that everyone, regardless of whether or not they are a Christian or even religious in any way, is a citizen of this country, and the laws of the country are to be separate from anyone's religious beliefs. You do not have to be a Christian to be an American. Period. Now, I also believe that everyone should have some grace and tolerance. It is not going to hurt anyone to listen to a short prayer during any given occasion; however, when laws that will govern all are based on the religious views of some (even if "some" is many people), there is a problem.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "God wants true followers of Jesus to step up and be proud of who you are" There aren't any. No one actually believes it. You can tell from their hateful comments and the amount of sheer lying they do.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  17. Scot

    Why don't these atheists invite a devil worshipping 'prayer giver"? It would be interesting to see Greece's reaction.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      I say a quick reading of entrails would be in order before each public meeting (as long as they clean it up after) ... It would be at least as effective as any prayer.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Eddie Arnold

      They don't because they don't believe in the devil either. If they did, that would be acknowledging God.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • sirhuxley

      How about hundreds of Muslims too?

      November 6, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Ben

      So typical of the close minded to consider atheists devil worshippers. To be atheist is to renounce not God, but religion altogether, which covers the duality of good and evil, i.e God and the Devil. Forgive me for believing that since we as a society are over 2000 years beyond Christ's time, when humans fought to the death as entertainment, Earth was the center of the galaxy, and Men could survive getting eaten by a whale, that people should not get persecuted as "intolerant" for developing their own beliefs.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  18. libertyadamson

    Stephens' real problem is a lack of maturity and social grace. I have been in situations where I've listened to the 'prayers' of those whose faith isn't my own. To listen respectfully isn't to negate my own faith, it's to be respectful, as my faith requests of me. I guess atheism, as a religion, doesn't require them to respect the people of other faiths. If she can't tolerate a few minutes of others observing their faith, can she tolerate others observing their cultures?

    November 6, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Mark

      *Sigh*. Atheism is not a religion.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Pfft

      I would say that ignoring the faith of others, and focusing exclusively on Christian faith (until someone complained), is a smidge disrespectful. Clearly you don’t see it as so. Why would you, it’s your flavor of religion. Its painfully obvious that the people running these events, that excluded the views of everyone else that were not Christians, could use some of your advice on being respectful.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Pfft

      And if you are only respectful because it is dictated to you by your faith, and not because its the decent thing to do then.....wow. Just wow. Holy crap proportions of wow.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Sara

      Liberty, it's simply not the same thing. Listening to someone occasionally talking about their differing beliefs is fun and interesting in the right context. But when one dominant group is repeatedly forcing those views on others, against the dictates of their own Bible and so seemingly as an act of oppression, it isn't entertaining at all. Instead, it is a reminder of how that dominant religion is constantly trying to control our bodies and marriages and keep its power.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  19. TheTraveler

    Simple solution: a moment of silence. Folks can do what they wish "spiritually" or not as the case may be, and silently, for 1 minute. We observe moments of silence for other things, why not this as well? It takes care of all the objections as far as I can tell and should satisfy all parties.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      How about just get on with the meeting and leave any moments of prayer, remembrance or contemplation for more appropriate environments?

      November 6, 2013 at 10:29 am |
      • TheTraveler

        First, you'd need to define "more appropriate environments". That in and of itself would probably prove to be as contentious or more so, than the whole "prayer" thing.

        Secondly, how do you reconcile the wants of others, who see prayer, or a moment of reflection (what have you) as an integral part of a meeting agenda. Isn't that depriving them of their rights, needs or wants?

        Prayer, for whatever reason, has long been part of public meetings, social events, sports events, etc. Presidential Inaugurations require the President to place his or her, (when that time comes) on a Bible.

        Personally, I see this whole issue as much ado about nothing. But it makes for good press. 🙂

        November 6, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Mick

      That would be a step in the right direction. But why do people need to pray at a town board meeting? They can pray all they want before they leave their home.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • ccarlssson

      I have no issue with the "moment of prayer" suggestion; it works and allows everyone to reflect in accordance with their own beliefs, or lack thereof. No opportunity for proselytizing of pushing their particular view, as the majority is always prone to do, given an inch.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:35 am |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        Or ... just leave it out altogether and have a meeting, pretty simple solution to something that shouldn't even be an issue.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  20. eric

    This headline is patronizing.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:18 am |
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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.