And whenever you pray

And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.

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But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

– Matthew 6:5-6

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The above photographs by Scott Nathan of The News Journal (Del.) are from an article last week titled "Suit against prayer spurs backlash."

The lawsuit was filed by a Jewish family in Delaware's Indian River School District. They have since moved away after receiving a communitywide cold shoulder, as well as more explicit threats. Reporter Sean O'Sullivan finds the people of Indian River candid and forthcoming:

"I'm for religion in schools," [said Oliver Hitchens]. "That is the way I was raised. Keep it in."

Many people in Hitchens' community appear to agree, rallying behind the local school district accused in a federal lawsuit of violating a Jewish family's right to be free from state-sponsored religion, in this case, Christianity.

Hitchens, like others in the Indian River School District, believes the central issue is not the Jewish family's right to be free from Christian prayers. They believe it is about the right of Christian students to pray where and when they want.

The Dobrich family, who filed the lawsuit against the Indian River School District in February in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, could ignore the prayers, said Donna DeForest, 62, of Millsboro.

"I just don't think they should be so narrow-minded," Hitchens said. …

The Rev. Lehman Tomlin, the pastor of Zoar United Methodist Church, conceded that if a Jewish family feels discriminated against when Christian prayers are offered at school, there's a problem. But "the answer is not me giving up the Christ to assuage someone else's feelings," he said. …

The feelings of one family should not overrule 1,000, said Bruce Scott, 58, the owner of Scotty's clothing store in downtown Selbyville. "That's ridiculous." ,,,

"If they don't like it — go to another school," Scott said, or leave the area.

This is not an unusual story. The Indian River district is not unique. So why is it that so many American Christians have become so vehemently disdainful of both the Constitution and the Sermon on the Mount? Why is it that these Very Nice People see their determined embrace of an un-Christian, un-American position as evidence that they are good Christians and good Americans? And how is it that the CHINO majority can bully a single Jewish family into leaving town while simultaneously pointing to that as evidence that they, the majority, are "persecuted"?

I'll try to tackle those questions in a future post, but here just let me leave you with some choice letters to the editor from today's paper. Such as this:

"Perhaps all Indian River School District players and fans should go inside the school and have their pre-game prayer while the Jewish girl sits alone in the bleachers. Or would it be easier if she would arrive five minutes later for the games?

"I understand that girl is accepted at Columbia University. She might have a room mate who is Catholic and who might pray the Rosary. A Methodist or Presbyterian might read the Bible. Would she go to her mama or the American Civil Liberties Union, or sue the university?

"Maybe the Dobrich family should live in a glass bubble so their sensitive ears cannot hear prayer."

Or this:

"Why is it always Christians who have to be tolerant? This Jewish woman in lower Delaware and her liberal allies are whining about the name of Jesus being mentioned in a prayer. So what? This nation was founded on Christian principles. The Constitution doesn't say anything about the separation of church and state.

"Try to be tolerant of Christians once in a while. We're not told to leave our faith at home except by secular humanists who have been infiltrating American society for decades."

Feh.

  • spencer

    This nation was founded on Christian principles. The Constitution doesn’t say anything about the separation of church and state.
    Neither does it say anything about “Christian principles.”
    I would love to have one of those boneheads explain to me exactly how this country was founded on Christian principles. I suspect it would come down to two things: the number of Commandments is the same as the number of amendments in the Bill of Rights, and that the words “commendment” and “amendment” sound kind of the same.

  • Beth

    The Constitution doesn’t say anything about the separation of church and state.
    Actually, it does. The phrase, “separation of church and state” isn’t found in the Constitution, but the Establishment Clause clearly has something to say about it.
    “Christian principles” is a different matter. I don’t think there’s a single principle in the Constitution that’s exclusively Christian, and there’s certainly nothing to suggest that Christianity is the basis of any of its principles.

  • mecki

    Dear Fred
    Please post something new. The sight of those sanctimonious idiots every time I open Slacktivist is really starting to affect me. In a negative way.
    That is all.
    Thank you

  • Marshall

    I think that it is very clear that the United States was not founded on theological principles. Ironically, I think that the
    current attempts to pretend otherwise will eventually lead to the destruction of the centrality of religion in this country.
    From Religion and Politics, by Richard Reeves
    “During almost 15 centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial,” wrote James Madison, the father of the Constitution. “What have been its fruits? More or less in most places, pride and indolence in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”
    John Adams had this to say: “The United States of America governments have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”

  • R. Mildred

    “it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
    Unfortuantly he was incredibly wrong there, people like the idea of their duly elected representatives being appointed by God, no emperor has ruled without the consent of who ever was most able to kill them, but people love the idea that someone infallible put the ruler on the top of the heap, that way they don’t have to feel responsible for any thing wrong the ruler does with their consent, it’s comforting.
    Don’t be fooled into thinking that the people who most want to turn america theocratic are deeply devout, It’s called over compensation and it’s no longer exclusivly for the closeted homosexual republican

  • R. Mildred

    “it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
    Unfortuantly he was incredibly wrong there, people like the idea of their duly elected representatives being appointed by God, no emperor has ruled without the consent of who ever was most able to kill them, but people love the idea that someone infallible put the ruler on the top of the heap, that way they don’t have to feel responsible for any thing wrong the ruler does with their consent, it’s comforting.
    Don’t be fooled into thinking that the people who most want to turn america theocratic are deeply devout, It’s called over compensation and it’s no longer exclusivly for the closeted homosexual republican


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