Obama Administration Supports Legislative Prayer

That evil Muslim atheist Obama is supporting the practice of saying Christian prayers at the beginning of legislative sessions by local elected boards. They’ve filed a brief in a Supreme Court case challenging such prayers saying that the court should allow them to continue.

The Obama administration has taken sides in a significant new test case on the separation between church and state, urging the Supreme Court to allow prayers at the beginning of government meetings. The administration lays out its arguments in a newly filed amicus brief in Town of Greece v. Galloway, a case that questions whether the prayer practices at town council meetings of a small town in upstate New York violate the First Amendment. The case could drastically expand the types of legislative prayer practices considered constitutional…

In its brief, the Obama administration does more than just defend the historical practice in Congress of opening daily sessions with prayers. It goes one step further to provide a complete embrace of religious-oriented prayers at government meetings, with one caveat. It’s a significant position for the administration to take given the multitude of policy battles it’s embroiled in over its alleged hostility toward religious rights. But much like its negotiations with members of the religious right over contraceptive coverage, the administration takes pains to accommodate religious beliefs and assumes a level of good faith simply not supported in the record.

The brief says, in part:

Where, as here, legislative prayers neither proselytize nor denigrate any faith, the inclusion of Christian references alone does not constitute an impermissible advancement or establishment of religion. So long as the goal of the government-backed prayer is not to recruit believers or criticize a given faith then the practice should be supported. Neither federal courts nor legislative bodies are well suited to police the content of such prayers, and this Court has consistently disapproved of government interference in dictating the substance of prayers.

But under O’Connor’s endorsement test, I think the result is quite clear. A reasonable observer, seeing that a local city council begins every single meeting with a Christian prayer, would obviously conclude that they are endorsing Christianity. The fact that the same people claiming this is not an endorsement would lose their minds if a single prayer were offered by a Muslim or a Pastafarian only proves that conclusion to be true.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    But under O’Connor’s endorsement test, I think the result is quite clear. A reasonable observer, seeing that a local city council begins every single meeting with a Christian prayer, would obviously conclude that they are endorsing Christianity.”

    But it’s just simple, ceremonial Establishment of Religion. If Unpopular Minorites (like the Athiest and the Jew* who precipitated this case) want their own prayer Established, they should have more of themselves.

    Also, Judeo-Christian Values (see, again, the Jew above).

     

    “The fact that the same people claiming this is not an endorsement would lose their minds if a single prayer were offered by a Muslim or a Pastafarian only proves that conclusion to be true.”

    But Creeping Sharia!

     

    * Also, a buddy cop TV series from the 1970s.

  • caseloweraz

    From Digby: The administration’s filing was “a surprisingly conservative brief, and it came as a pleasant surprise,” said Ken Klukowski, a lawyer for the Family Research Council, who filed the brief for the House members. “It’s gratifying that even the Obama administration recognizes that courts are not qualified to censor prayers.”

    An unsurprising gloat from Ken Klukowski’s clan. The last part goes way beyond the meaning of what the administration’s brief really said.

    Of course, as others here have noted, if the prayer were Muslim the Family Research Council would be falling all over themselves to denounce any court that approved it.

  • gshelley

    I think it shows just how much the Christian right is immersed in Christian privilege, that this, on top of all the other special treatment religious groups get as evidence against their belief that Obama is anti-Christian.

  • D. C. Sessions

    It won’t take many contrarians to break this.

    I was in high school shortly after the O’Hair case and one of my teachers had played a role in getting rid of daily prayers in our district. At the time, the rule was much as we see in legislatures and meetings: the district didn’t have an official prayer, but did mandate that the teachers lead some prayer in the first class of the day.

    So he, as directed, led prayers. Quite even-handedly; he looked up not only Christian prayers but Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. I was particularly fond of the Navajo morning prayer that he still remembered years later.

    And, yes, heads exploded. Rock, hard place. The Board ditched the organized prayer and not long after O’Hair came down.

    So bearing in mind that the Devil is in the details, I can readily see that once someone demands a turn with their prayer it’s all going to come undone, one way or another.

  • exdrone

    Where, as here, legislative prayers neither proselytize nor denigrate any faith, the inclusion of Christian references alone does not constitute an impermissible advancement or establishment of religion. So long as the goal of the government-backed prayer is not to recruit believers or criticize a given faith then the practice should be supported.

    It seems that an extrapolation of this concept outside of the context of prayer would result in teaching creationism in public schools. The defence would be, “Yeah, it’s religiony, but we’re not recruiting.”

  • D. C. Sessions

    Actually, if your standard is “recruitment” then there would be no problem running the State according to orthodox Judaism. No proselytization — but still a strict theocracy. Somehow I have a hard time reconciling that with the Constitution.

  • abb3w

    Alas, Justice O’Connor is now only an emeritus member of the Court.

  • Michael Heath

    abb3w writes:

    Alas, Justice O’Connor is now only an emeritus member of the Court.

    True, but J. O’Connor was not representative of what the GOP had become by the time President Reagan nominated her. My biggest regret is we won’t see any John Paul Stevens types nominated by the GOP. He represented a wing of the party that no longer exists, to the great detriment of all of humanity now and for at least the next several decades.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    The very same “change you can believe in” that Bush would have done.

  • lancifer

    This action by the Obama administration is emblematic of the disappointing behavior that led me to vote for him….

    …once.