The Los Angeles Times recently editorialized that governments should not have “a blank check to pray in a whole community’s name with language drawn from a particular faith” – that “a Jewish [sic], Muslim or atheist shouldn’t have to endure routine official prayers in the name of Jesus’ as the price of participating in local government.”[i]
The Times would prefer that “governments held no prayers at all at their official proceedings” but that “if a government insists on sponsoring prayers, it should either keep them nonsectarian or make sure that it offers equal time to a range of voices, so as not to endorse one religious tradition over another.”
Here we go again. Another attempt to undermine freedom of religion by driving it out of the public square.
Leaving aside the Times’ sloppy writing – using an adjective when the reference obviously requires a noun – let’s dissect three of their points: endorsement, nonsectarian language, and equal time.
First, the intellectual elite, among whom the LA Times editorial board surely considers itself charter members, seem to believe that the public isn’t smart enough to understand that a town council prayer by a clergyman is not a government endorsement. There can be few (perhaps the town drunk and his buddies) who are not aware that people take turns – last week a Catholic priest gave the prayer, this week a Mormon bishop, and next week a Jewish rabbi. Is this really a flavor-of-the-week endorsement? Does the Times board think people are that ignorant and gullible? If having the honor of invoking God’s blessings on the council’s proceedings really had an endorsement impact on the petitioner’s denomination, then show me the stats – show me that attendance at each religion’s weekly worship services waxes and wanes with who gave the prayer at Thursday’s council meeting. You will find no such correlation.
Second, these don’t-taint-me-with-religion wusses hold that all public prayers should be nonsectarian, that is, stripped of language preferential to a particular denomination. Of course we don’t want a bishop saying, “We thank thee for re-establishing thy original church; services Sunday at 9:00 at Elm and Main,” but how can a Christian offer a sincere prayer if he must delete all references to Christ, if he cannot close in the Savior’s name? How can one even begin a prayer without expressing a religious preference in the form of the Addressee – God, our Father, Allah, Isis, etc.?
Those who love to tell others what to do want to sanitize public prayers so they won’t offend sensitive ears. Just get up and mumble a jumble of mushy platitudes. I say that such hollow prayers offend God’s ears, and the whining is directed almost exclusively toward one religion. Think about it. Who among us is offended if a Muslim references Mohammad or Allah, or if a Wiccan speaks of “Mighty mother, daughter of the Nile”? We’ll even respect an atheist’s moment of silence if that is his “prayer.” So if someone cannot stand to hear the word “Jesus,” that someone needs a life. A minister should not be forced to pray in a way he usually does not. Speech control is for speech therapists.
Third, the editorial noted that council meetings of the town at the center of the Supreme Court case (Greece, New York), two-thirds of prayers concluded in Jesus’ name, with “references to Jesus Christ,’ Jesus,’ Your Son’ or the Holy Spirit'” sprinkled throughout. Oh, the ignominy. The town is probably more than 67% Christian and yet it is somehow unfair for Christians to be proportionately represented.
These brilliant sampling theorists want town councils to offer equal time to a range of voices – they want diversity without proportionality. This means that if there are, say, five religions in town – Christians in general being one, and Judaism, Islam, atheism (yes, it’s a religion) and Wiccan being the others – each one gets 20% of the prayers. And yet I have a feeling that more Christians would be willing to hear 80% of the prayers in non-Christian language than non-Christians would be willing to hear 20% of the prayers in the name of Jesus Christ.
Funny how the great champions of diversity want conformity to their values, and how preachers of tolerance reverse course when it comes to religion.
There is one being, more than any other, who dreads and cannot stand to hear the name of Jesus Christ. Others holding a similar attitude should at least be told whose company they’re in.
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This article is an excerpt from Gary Lawrence’s forthcoming book “The Relocated War in Heaven – How to Recognize Satan’s Strategies and Tactics on Seven Critical Battlefields.”