Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Glendale City Council to Set Rules for Prayer

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Mayor Jerry Weiers of Glendale, Arizona, a former four-term Republican member of our joke of a state legislature,  has come up with a plan to give God room to at least observe at city council meetings.  Mayor Weiers wants to end the practice of a "moment of silence" at the beginning of council meetings and replace it with (of course) a prayer.  He said that he sees an opening prayer as an opportunity for each council member to bring someone of "any" faith from their district to say a prayer.  He justified his obvious attempt to breach the wall between church and state by noting that our legislature does it.

Color me surprised!

Now, according to our major Valley rag, council members are trying to decide what guidelines will be imposed to make the mayor's political prayer gambit work in a manner that would appear to be fair.  Proposed rules for prayer are being bandied about, with some news reports saying that the number of suggested safeguards is now well into the teens.

Color me surprised on that, as well.

Regardless of what prayers are spoken openly at the meetings, I would guess that several people sitting at the council table (or perhaps kneeling) will also be offering silent prayers - in an effort to cosmically bar any members from showing up with a Muslim cleric to intone the blessing.

After all, free speech and religious tolerance can only extend so far.

What a shame that the Glendale City Council doesn't have some pressing city business on which to focus.


Xobekim said...

Even the Supreme Court opens with a prayer, sort of: "The Honorable Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable Supreme Court of the United States are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court!"

Likewise the Congress opens each legislative day with a prayer from the chaplain, or chaplain du jour, of each chamber. The Presidents, and candidates for that exalted office are remiss if they don't close speeches with "and God bless the United States of America."

Neither of those examples are seen to offend the Constitutional prohibition of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. That clause prohibits the establishment of a state religion. Recall that back in England the Crown was shifting in violent form from Roman Catholic to Church of England [Reform Protestant].

The Founders wanted each person to have the right to worship, or not, as they saw fit without repercussion.

The case law on the Establishment Clause is murky. It reminds me of the early line of cases on pornography, the Court knew it when they saw it.

What we can be fairly secure in knowing is that this clause forbids the government from establishing an official religion, prohibiting government actions unduly favoring one religion over another, prohibiting government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.

These cases often look at intent, real intent and not the bull manure that those intent on breaching the wall separating church and state blither on about their own deceitful actions.

For instance, when the Alabama judge put the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the Court House, he was pandering to the radical right wing base in the local community; no doubt to his political advantage. At the University of Missouri Kansas City's School of Law, in front of the administrative offices is a bas relief sculpture. That sculpture includes the Ten Commandments. It also includes other sources of law recognized in society like the Code of Hammurabi.

Now what is the real intent in Glendale? My guess is that the city is about to waste the scarce resources of the city in costly litigation, and come up with the short end of the stick. Mayor Jerry Weiers needs a reminder that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

molly. said...

When people feel it necessary to pray before meetings shouldn't that clue us in to the fact that a lot of work needs to be done.. And that maybe we should start the meeting instead?

Not everyone is religious.. people need to remember that.