In early 2013, we learned that Joelle Silver (below), a science teacher in the Cheektowaga Central School District in New York who also doubled as the faculty sponsor for the school’s Bible Study Club, had no idea where to draw the line between being a public school teacher and being a representative of her church.
A just-released Gallup survey asked respondents, “Do you believe that religion can answer all or most of today’s problems, or that religion is largely old fashioned and out of date?” 30% of Americans, to my delight, went with “old fashioned and out of date.”
It’s not the highest percentage on record, but it’s not an insignificant number either:
Earlier this year, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in New Zealand ran an advertisement promoting their Healing services:
When doctors and medicines are not enough.
For people who suffer with constant pain, deteriorating health, can’t work due to illness, incurable disease, doctors don’t know what’s wrong, dependent on pills, recovering from injury, weight problems, sick children.
The implication is clear: Prayer will help cure your “incurable” diseases! Just come to our healing sessions!
Mark Hanna, co-founder of the Society for Science Based Healthcare, saw that ad and knew full well that prayers didn’t solve any of those problems. More importantly, for the church to suggest otherwise appeared to him to be a case of false advertising. So he filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority, a self-regulated agency that is pretty effective at getting companies to remove or change their ads.
A couple of years ago, before the Supreme Court ruled that sectarian invocation prayers were legal, the city of Huntsville, Alabama was threatened with a lawsuit for its overuse of Christian invocation-givers. In response, Huntsville City Council President Mark Russell (below) offered a possible solution and his colleague agreed:
A possible compromise, he said, is using a rotating roster of clergy from different faiths. Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Baha’i leaders have delivered a few council invocations through the years, but Russell estimated that 90-95 percent of the prayers are Christian.
“I think we’ll continue to want to open our meeting with a prayer of some sort,” he said.
Councilman Will Culver said he agrees with the idea of an opening prayer that rotates among different faiths.
“That’s the only way to do it, in my opinion,” Culver said Friday. “Everybody should have an opportunity.”
As we know, that’s essentially the solution the Supreme Court went with: People of all faiths must be allowed to give the invocations, but the invocations aren’t going away.