Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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"In Christ's Name"- ACLU seeks sectarian prayer


Religious Right Watch reports on exclusivist prayer at public committee meetings:

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution is running a story concerning an American Civil Liberties Union suit in filed in federal court in Atlanta, Thursday that--according to the article--seeks to "end prayer that references one religion over another during Cobb [County] commission and planning commission meetings."

The prayers are said by the commissioners themselves, invoke Jesus, and are voluntary.

This is a tricky issue insofar as the debate about sectarian prayer in civic contexts is not necessarily a debate about the Christian Right or dominionism. Issues of local culture and simple tradition are involved often, and individuals uttering such prayers are not always Christians with effectively Christian supremacist or dominionist worldviews, goals, or intentions.

Nonetheless, the dominionism and public prayer debates are never mutually exclusive, either. Once a governmental proceeding includes public prayer, voluntary or not, and especially if the prayer is sectarian--that is, aligned with a specific religion--then religion and the state have become mixed, and a host of questions arise: should we allow prayers from other religions? if so, which ones--Islam, Wicca, Mormon, Jewish? if not, then are we being discriminatory? what if no one's complained yet? what if someone does later? what about a moment of silence? what about a prayer that strives (though it will fail in this goal) to be applicable to all religions? what about a deistic prayer (besides, no Hindus live in the area...right?), etc., etc., etc.

Shockingly often what is lost in all of those questions is the simple fact that all potential substantive controversy could be done away with if the prayer simply didn't occur.

No state prayer; no problems. Period. It's that simple.

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