First of all I must clarify my position on religion and prayer for those of you who don’t know me. I am personally opposed to all organized religion. I believe that they are cults. I do not need a man or woman standing on a stage telling me how to live a spiritual life. I doubt that there is a ‘god,’ but I’m undecided. If there is a god, I do not believe that he or she is not concerned with our daily lives, and does not have contact with any human being. Therefore I do not believe in the ‘power of prayer.’
However, I believe that the Constitution is the greatest document ever written by man. I would fight to the death to support any man or woman who chooses to practice any religion. The first amendment is the most important section of the ‘law of the land.’
Now that you know what I believe, let’s talk about North Carolina.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners begins their meetings with prayer, which is primarily Christian. Nan Lund and the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the commissioners. Their complaint stated that this practice violated the rights of those in attendance who were not Christian. Ten judges sided in their favor.
“By proclaiming the spiritual and moral supremacy of Christianity, characterizing the political community as a Christian one, and urging adherents of other religions to embrace Christianity as the sole path to salvation, the Board in its prayer practice stepped over the line,” Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote in the .
Why is this important? Remember that first amendment thing? Here’s the entire amendment; pay special attention to the part about religion.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
This defines the rights of those who practice religion, but also defines the rights of myself and more than 65 million other Americans who refuse to practice any form of organized religion.
I was raised a Catholic. My grandfather, and my uncle instructed me to keep my religion personal and private. Religion does not relate to politics or government; they do not mix, and are often in opposition to each other.
Each day every Republican in Washington is violating the Constitution. They denounce the religion of Islam, and others, while they bow to the Christian religious right. They have established a single religion as the only religion of our nation.
There are other lawsuits coming. Other southern states are re-instituting prayer in public schools. If they do, and refuse to allow Muslims, Hindus, or Jews to have equal prayer time, they will be in violation of the first amendment.
Contrary to the lies from the right wing, our nation was not founded on religious beliefs. One of the primary reasons our founding fathers left England was their opposition to the rule of King George III, who ordered all citizens to join the Anglican Church.
The men who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were mostly ‘Deists.’ They believed that a supernatural entity did exist and created the heavens and earth, but they were unsure if he or she existed today. If he or she does exist, this entity does not communicate with mortal man, and is unconcerned with their daily lives. This is how I learned to describe my personal beliefs.
Finally, a statement by a representative of the ACLU describes the court’s decision.
“This ruling is a great victory for the rights of all residents to participate in their local government without fearing discrimination or being forced to join in prayers that go against their beliefs,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina, who argued the case.
Please re-post; thank you.
Op-ed by James Turnage
My novels are available on Amazon; CLICK HERE