Council Meeting 2-2-15 from City of Port Orange
Prayers at Government Meetings
Is an Establishment Clause violation occurring at government meetings?
One of the most frequent complaints to the Freedom From Religion Foundation from the public over state/church violations concerns government officials opening government meetings with prayer.
It is inappropriate for public officials—many of whom have tax-paid positions and all of whom take an oath to uphold secular constitutions—to schedule prayer at government functions, or open government meetings with prayer and religious ritual.
While the U.S. Supreme Court has issued two unhelpful decisions about prayer at legislative meetings, you can still complain when you encounter government prayer. Just because the Supreme Court carved out an exception for some legislative prayer does not mean legislatures must schedule prayer. They are free to embrace secularism and to be responsive to citizen complaints and the need to avoid excluding constituents.
Without going to court, citizens and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have successfully halted sectarian prayer by local governments. Citizens have even persuaded local boards to drop prayer altogether or to substitute a moment of silence.
Citizens of all religions or no religion are compelled to come before local government bodies on civic, secular matters: variances, sewers, permits, licenses, repair, etc. They should not be subjected to a religious show or test, or be expected to bow heads and demonstrate religious obeisance at a government function. (We fail to see why divine guidance is needed over such earthly matters, anyway.)
Nor is it necessary to pray on taxpayers’ time and dime. Members of government boards are free to pray privately or to worship on their own time in their own way. When government bodies lend their power and prestige to religion, this amounts to a governmental endorsement that exclude one-fifth of the population —today one in five adult Americans is nonreligious. This practice inevitably will turn minorities, including atheists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Wiccans, into second-class citizens. Even when prayers are “nondenominational,” there is no way a government body may conduct prayer that will not inevitably exclude, divide and embarrass at least some taxpayers and constituents.
Even the Jesus of the New Testament condemned public prayer: “Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in secret” (Matt. 6:5-13).
Observing a strict separation of church and state will offend no one and include all citizens.
More at http://ffrf.org/outreach/item/14015-prayers-at-government-meetings
Comment follows from Hank Springer
I do not wish to watch any clergyman from the following listed religious groups saying a prayer in public before the Port Orange City Council.
Size of major religious groups, 2012
Folk religions 5.9%
Pew Research Center, 2012
Which god are we praying to?
The following link lists thousands of gods to pray to:
I want to keep church and state separate, and do not want to see citizens into accepting that this is a Christian Nation or a Christian City. I don’t care which councilmen is connected with this pastor or church, and the fact that any religious clergyman is invited to offer a prayer before the public and city council does not placate me. I do not want to hear from any of them.
This is an issue which the Mayor would love to have develop so that we get preoccupied with putting Christ back in Christmas instead of financial, water, meter, berms, lakes, dirt, drainage, contracts, lack of communication and other city governmental issues. And this is only part of the story. Let’s face it, a person who does not want to pray, or watch another pray, and wants to keep taxes down is not a good person, like someone who does not like apple pie and mothers.
I hope the people who want to pray will do so in the closet as Jesus recommended. Even the YMCA does not offer to make young men better Christians any longer. I hope the people of this city will show their tolerance for those among us who do not want prayer in a public place.
Sincerely – hank springer
posted 408 PM http://www.popdradiolog.com