Monday, May 5, 2014

SCOTUS: It's OK to pray...as long as you don't really mean it.

So the Supremes refused to say stop (in the name of love) to prayers at town council meetings. But only if the pray-ers try to be "inclusive" and because, well, nobody really means it anyway.

From the FoxNews report of Justice Kennedy's opinion for the court:

The inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent, rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers.

And there is something for the Gottesdients Crowd to ponder: in modern American parlance "ceremonial" indicates insincerity. A brief, ceremonial prayer is no big deal. If it's ceremony, then it's not authentic, you don't really mean it. This is perhaps the greatest hurdle to our flocks' understanding of public worship, liturgy, etc, etc.

+HRC

8 comments:

  1. I think this is a profound observation, Father Heath. It taps into the whole 'spirituality' vs. 'religious' dichotomy.

    Is ritual an expression of 'authenticity', or is casual lack of ritual considered 'meaningful'?

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  2. No, the purpose and effect of public prayer is to attempt to borrow for the state some of the respect due the church.

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  3. What is absolutely fascinating in all of the opinions is the assumption that the "audience" of the prayer are the people in the room! I mean, Who else could the audience of a prayer be?

    +HRC

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  4. Do they mean "address the people, not the supreme deity" kind of thing?

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  5. This is just what that incomprehensible phrase, "of the people, by the people, for the people," means...and the what comes of it.

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  6. I don't think the state or the church should do anything merely for the sake of "heritage and tradition," as the majority seems to be arguing. While I'm loathe to see the court prohibit such legislative prayer, I do think it would be wise for governments to quietly end the practice. Christians do not pray out of habit or tradition but because we believe that as his baptized children God invites us to come to Him as dear children come to their dear father.

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  7. I wonder if Naaman’s and Elisha’s conversation is relevant here? 2 Kings 5, “18 But may the Lord pardon your servant on one count: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow down in the house of Rimmon, when I do bow down in the house of Rimmon, may the Lord pardon your servant on this one count." 19 He said to him, "Go in peace."”
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

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  8. Regarding the prayers at the Greece, NY, town council meetings, the SCOTUS opinion stated (p. 2):

    "The town followed an informal method for selecting prayer givers, all of whom were unpaid volunteers. A town employee would call the congregations listed in a local directory until she found a minister available for that month’s meeting. The town eventually compiled a list of willing 'board chaplains' who had accepted invitations and agreed to return in the future. The town at no point excluded or denied an opportunity to a would-be prayer giver. Its leaders maintained that a minister or layperson of any persuasion, including an atheist, could give the invocation. But nearly all of the congregations in town were Christian; and from 1999 to 2007, all of the partici­pating ministers were too.

    "Greece neither reviewed the prayers in advance of the meetings nor provided guidance as to their tone or con­tent, in the belief that exercising any degree of control over the prayers would infringe both the free exercise and speech rights of the ministers. Id., at 22a. The town instead left the guest clergy free to compose their own devotions. The resulting prayers often sounded both civic and religious themes."

    According to the LCMS Church Locator, there are no LCMS churches in Greece, NY.

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