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Humanist Fellowship of San Diego Message Board › Supreme Court Upholds Prayer at Public Meetings

Supreme Court Upholds Prayer at Public Meetings

San Diego, CA
Post #: 47
This Court scares me to death.­
A former member
Post #: 124
There will be much rejoicing in churches and other places of Christian worship this week. I, for one, do not relish the thought of being subjected to "ceremonial prayers" at public gatherings, etc., proselytizing or no.

I had a discussion with a conservative, close friend (non religious, attorney) some years ago about such topics as separation of church and state, religious symbols on public property, etc. He said something that struck me as an interesting perspective. Essentially, his point was that we liberals have been getting the issues called our way for several decades, and now the pendulum is swinging back to "normal".

So are we experiencing a political cycle that will go more and more conservative before, eventually, moving back to the so-called "center", then moving on to liberal?

Or is this the end of the beginning of Liberalism? The irony for me is that I recently picked up a used copy of the book "The Collapse of Liberalism: Why America Needs a New Left". Maybe I should move this to the top of the pile?

Wilfredo P.
user 11974495
Chula Vista, CA
Post #: 245
I don't buy Justice Kennedy's ridiculous "nation's traditions" argument. Slavery was a tradition in this country, as were whaling, child labor and denying women the right to vote. Just because something was a "tradition" doesn't mean that it's right.

The problem is that Republican presidents have nominated five of the current nine Supreme Court justices. Scalia and Kennedy were nominated by Reagan, Bush I nominated Clarence Thomas, Bush II nominated Roberts and Alito. Clinton nominated Justices Ginsberg and Bryer and Obama nominated Justices Sotomayor and Kagan. How sad that Carter never got to nominate a Supreme Court justice.

Let's hope that a Democrat wins the presidency in 2016 and that he or she will nominate a progressive Supreme Court justice or two. Nomination of a Supreme Court justice is one of the greatest powers a president has. The justice can put into practice the president's judicial/political philosophy for decades. I thought Souter was a good conservative justice, but several of the conservatives on the Court right now are of the right-wing, religious wacko variety.

Remind your conservative friend that conservatives have historically opposed civil rights, worker protection and environmental laws, Michael. I wonder if his definition of "normal" includes denying human and civil rights to people of color and allowing corporations to exploit and oppress workers and the environment?

One of the main causes of the death of liberalism is that the Democratic Party has turned to the right and has forgotten its progressive roots. There's a reason we didn't see Obama supporting the workers of Wisconsin, a reason why Obama hasn't punished a single Wall Street crook, a reason why he has deported more people than G. W. Bush and a reason why he escalated the war in Afghanistan. Democrats today think they have to move to the right to win. And once they get in office, they act like Republicans. What a huge disappointment.

Ed S.
user 105793922
San Diego, CA
Post #: 6
I agree that this was a very bad decision and that it made no sense. Look out for the religious right becoming more aggressive.
A former member
Post #: 127
I don't think my friend would try to justify oppression (overtly, anyway) by the government, however, he is all for a "free market", as in Ayn Rand. Of course, we all know what that means: Oligarchy.
Wilfredo P.
user 11974495
Chula Vista, CA
Post #: 247
That's hypocritical and nonsensical, too, Mike, because there is no such thing as a free market. Recall that towards the end of her life, Ayn Rand, who made a living bashing government, secretly collected Social Security benefits under her late husband's name. I know two staunch Republicans who lost their jobs and are hoping that their government unemployment benefits are extended. And I know another Republican "free market" advocate who had to foreclose on his house, then complained that the government did nothing to help him. All these "free market" advocates are HYPOCRITES. Every single one of them was helped by the government at some point. I'd sure like to ask them if they went to college on government-subsidized student loans. If we truly had a free market, then the government wouldn't have bailed out Wall Street and the automobile companies.
Wilfredo P.
user 11974495
Chula Vista, CA
Post #: 248
Here's an interesting article on this topic from the CNN Religion Blog.

Of course, I think the SCOTUS is dead wrong in this case.The Supreme Court has been wrong many times before, as in the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson, when it upheld the constitutionality of state laws requiring segregation in public facilities via the "separate but equal" doctrine, which was not overturned until the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954.

This ruling essentially makes all non-Christians second-class citizens at public meetings in our country. And it clearly indicates that the government favors Christianity over other religions and religion over non-belief. That's why leaders of non-Christian religions and leaders of secular groups strongly condemned this decision. The government should be neutral on these issues. The attitude of the SCOTUS on this issue has historically been that adults are free to leave public meetings. Well, that's baloney, as the article notes.

Many times, the dissenting opinions of SCOTUS justices are more important than the decision of the majority and many times, the dissenting opinions eventually become the law. I believe that will happen in this case. I compeltely agree with Justice Kagan's dissent. Note the following in the article:

"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 really matter, Kagan continues.

In essence, she said, the majority is arguing "What's the big deal?" and making light of religious differences while conferring a special role on Christianity.

"Contrary to the majority's apparent view, such sectarian prayers are not 'part of our expressive idiom' or 'part of our heritage and tradition,' assuming that 'our' refers to all Americans. They express beliefs that are fundamental to some, foreign to others - and because of that they carry the ever-present potential to divide and exclude."

There's that "exclude" word again, something conservatives love to do.

Secular Americans don't want to ban religion. We just want to get religion the hell out of the public sphere and out of our government, as the Founding Fathers intended.

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


A former member
Post #: 51
As to leaving meetings being a way to deal with this outrage -

I belong to a number of organizations that say the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of meetings. When I say the Pledge, I remain silent during the "under God" part. A few meetings ago, I had someone shout UNDER GOD!!! in my face, because I guess he had noticed my non-participation at that point in the recital. It was very awkward.

If one cannot simply be silent without drawing such venom, what would happen if one left the room during an offensive prayer?
A former member
Post #: 43
This is to address the Ayn Rand issue raised regarding the hypocrisy of collecting Social Security retirement benefits. I have many issues with Rand and the Objectivist philosophy but in this case it is common sense not hypocrisy. I don't see the hypocrisy of advocating for the elimination of a Federal program and collecting the benefits from a program that was paid into. I might agree it would be a matter of hypocrisy if she collected food stamps or welfare but not if she collected Unemployment Benefits or Medicare as other examples.

There are many examples of people advocating a position but operate under the given, current system. For example, Warren Buffet and those politicians and citizens who advocate for the Buffet Tax are not paying that level tax until the law is changed. We would agree that to do otherwise would be foolish. And, those who advocate for public schools sometimes send their children to private schools like President Obama and others. Again, in the case of President Obama flip-flopping and opting for private instead of public campaign financing. I don't think they are hypocrites and neither was Ayn Rand in the Social Security case.
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