Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's Time To End Public Prayer in America

Glenn H. Burkins is editor and publisher of Qcitymetro.com. His commentary on the recent CMPD decision to remove the name of Jesus in public prayer is a bold and well made statement.

As much as it makes CP despondent, he's right. When we removed school prayer we landed on the well greased slippery slope. But the First Amendment which the church and state debate is based on requires that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." While for the past 60 years the emphasis has been on the first part "establishment" maybe it is time to focus on the last part, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

Should we eliminate prayer before Panthers games? What about NASCAR, and boxing? Don't our gladiators of sport deserve and need prayer? What if there is no prayer and some tragic accident happens? After all tragic accidents happen all the time in sport even with prayer, so without how bad could it get without?

But what do you think?

By Glenn H. Burkins:
So, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has asked its chaplains to stop invoking the name of Jesus when they pray at official department ceremonies.

John Diggs, who heads CMPD’s volunteer chaplain program, told the Observer’s Mike Gordon the move was not meant to “demean anyone’s Christian beliefs” but rather to show greater sensitivity to all religions practiced by the department’s 2,000-plus police employees.

A bold stroke in a town sometimes called “the city of churches.”
Sadly, though, not bold enough.

If Chief Rodney Monroe had asked for my opinion, and clearly he did not, I would have advised him to go one step further and eliminate prayer altogether at events such as police promotions and graduations.

No, I have not taken leave of my Christian senses. Neither have I forsaken the teachings of my father, who every Sunday of my youth called his wife and children around the breakfast table and led us all in family prayer.

What I have done is come to the reluctant conclusion that public prayer – be it of the Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish variety -- has no place when Americans gather for secular events.
In explaining the police department’s move, Diggs told the Observer, “CMPD is not anybody’s church.”

Precisely. Neither is it anybody’s synagogue, mosque, temple or prayer closet – all appropriate places for personal expressions of faith.

Who among us has not attended a business or community luncheon where all in attendance were directed to stand for a public invocation? For me, those occasions rank among my most uncomfortable moments as a Christian.

Will the person praying call on the name of Jesus and risk offending every Muslim or Jew in the house, or will he ignore the name so sacred to my faith and leave me feeling ambivalent? And what about the guy fidgeting next to me who desires no faith at all?

In our noble attempt to avoid every offense, we have watered down public prayer to a point where it has become more rote than religious. At that point, it ceases to have significance.

In a conversation I had with Bishop Claude Alexander late last year, he touched on this topic. Increasingly, he said, he is being asked to pray at public events in Charlotte without mentioning the name of Jesus.

“Well, personally,” he said, “I’m accepting fewer invitations to pray.”
I often hear people whose opinions I otherwise respect lament the day that prayer was taken out of our public schools. Look where it got us, they say.

For me, it was a no-brainer.

I remember watching in elementary school as a quiet kid who seemed to have few friends exited our classroom every time we prepared to pray or hold Bible study. (Yes, we actually had Bible study in school back then.)

How strange it was that our schoolmate would leave us, we all whispered, which only added to this kid’s alienation. It wasn’t until years later that I learned that he was a Jehovah’s Witness and that his parents did not want their child participating in what amounted to our classroom worship service.

The beauty and genius of the United States is our racial and cultural diversity. China and India will never touch us in that category. But it’s also the quality that, more than any other, may lead to our undoing.

As much as some might desire it, we will never go back to the days of big-finned automobiles when practically every American was either black or white but all most likely were Christian. If we are to survive as a nation, we must find a way, somehow, to respect our growing differences while avoiding situations that might allow our differences to become nation-busting fault lines.

Public prayer, alas, is one of those situations.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

To be blunt - no one has the right not to be offended and there is no constitutional authority to sterilize govt from religion. The 1st Amendment does the opposite - it safeguards religion from government. When I served in uniform overseas, I wasn't "offended" that our allies suddenly stopped to pray to their god multiple times a day nor did I ever expect the democracy we were encouraging in their country would ever prevent them from doing it. Why? They are primarily muslim and is stupid to think a society should sterilize it's culture in the name of democracy.
"Congress shall make no law". A volunteer municipal police chaplain does not serve due to federal law and asking him to sterilize his personal religious actions WHEN HE IS ASKED TO PROVIDE THAT SERVICE FREE OF CHARGE is ignorant of any actual constitutional underpinnings.
Chaplains provide an important service and walk an incredibly narrow corridor to provide that spiritual service to uniformed members. Why would we have them remove the very expertise they bring to the dance?
if Major Diggs wanted a "secular prayer", he is imminently qualified to deliver one himself. No chaplain needed.
A. Adkins

Anonymous said...

If you think about it, we are on the "greased slope" heading towards a world of metro sexual drones, a colorless, sexless, world where everyone is a replica of some big brother mandated droid. Everyone in lock step marching forward to the metronome rhythm of the federal government. A future were ethnicity is a crime where religion is forbidden all in the name of a totally homogenized world.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts give way to just "Scouts" in a place where testosterone is bad and gay is good. A world where competition is forbidden because average is "good enough". A place were graduating "with honors" means nothing because everyone receives the same grade, "PASS".

A world where invoking the name of Jesus Christ is punished by stoning.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:50
There is a time and a place for everything.

Churches, Synagogues, Mosques, etc. are all places of worship.

Your home is a place where you worship.

No one is in lock step, just the opposite actually.

Your religion is yours, and to force it on others and make them feel somehow less because they do not share your
faith is just wrong. That would be your lock step mentality.

Would you like it if at EVERY public event the name of Allah or Buddha was invoked and nothing else?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Burkins when we started letting the towel heads into the country we set yourselves up to lose our Christian faith at least in a public setting. I also agree that CMPD should just shitcan the Chaplin program altogether.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, "towelheads"?

No one is "losing their Christian faith".... and if you are a Christian, is not praying at Gov't events enough for you to "lose your faith"? If it is, you are not much of a Christian.

Let's just put a fence around the whole country, stop anyone that is not a Christian from entering the country, or make them wear tags that say they are not Christian, put them in Ghettos or 'labor camps".......sound familiar?

That is the problem with most "Christians"....their total
lack of tolerance for anyone different, their arrogance that their way is the only way, their lack of compassion, empathy and kindness.

Our founding fathers are surely ashamed.

Anonymous said...

A sad day for CMPD. The fact is very few are offended by prayer. My Jewish friends are not offended by Merry Christmas nor am I with Happy Hanuaka.

Anonymous said...

This is just another case of make the many suffer for the few. There was probably one person who wanted this (and most likely they were not even part of CMPD) and they got their way. It makes sense, one person feels sad that they have no faith or they are insecure of their own faith, so get it changed where no one can enjoy their faith. I get it, we're just trying to bring an end of the world a lot sooner.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:14
NO ONE IS SAYING YOU CANNOT PRAY...

The only thing they are saying is you must be DIVERSE and inclusive...recognizing all faiths.

And you are free to go to the Church of your choice 24/7 and pray all you want to whatever diety you choose.

Merry Chrstmas and Happy Hanukkah are not prayers.

It s a good day for CMPD.....including folks of all "religions".

Anonymous said...

We have become a Godless Nation new bills might as well say "in Aliens We Trust"

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:48
Who is "suffering"? And an "end of the world"? Get over yourself, your faith must be thin if you think something like this will "end the world". Irrational and illogical.

Anon 4:23
In God We Trust was adopted as the official motto of the U.S. in 1956 and was put on bills in 1957...... by men.
The CONSTITUTION forbids the government from passing any law respecting the establishment of a religion.

Christianity IS NOT the "official" religion of the U.S.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:36. Yes the Founders are indeed ashamed but for none of the reasons your limited understanding would comprehend.

Your pure left hyperbole about 'ghettos' and 'labor camps' shows you're likely the product of public education and most likely living on the largess of the tax payer.

Funny how the vaunted ideal of the left - tolerance rarely applies to anyone other than themselves.

Please go tell the local Imam that he cannot invoke the name of Allah and see what reaction you get.

Yes, Christian theology is hard to fathom because it is so very declarative - the one and the only way. Nothing wishy washy about it. Period. You either accept it or reject it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:53
So you think I am poorly educated and live off welfare?

What a raging idiot you are.

Why, I am even tolerant of arrogant jackasses like you, there must be some reason for your vapid, angry existence.

Christian theology is very simple to understand actually.

You are the one that doesn't seem to understand the basic tenets of Christianity.

It is only "christians" like you that I reject.

Anonymous said...

Jesus es mi amigo.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:44
Now that is some funny shit!

HDLadee said...

Sorry, but I will pray when and where ever I want. If if offends you, DON'T LISTEN! But NO BODY including the government has a right to stop prayers at ANY event IF the owners & sponsors of that event want PRAYER!

Sick and tired of all the offended! This is America, Home of the Free and Brave, NOT of the weak and offended! Don't like it, don't listen or leave...THAT is your right!


Don't stomp on my rights just because you are weak!

Cedar Posts said...

I have given this issue a lot of thought.

And the solution is simple.

I suggest that from now on, those in attendence at CMPD events simply offer the following at the end of any Chaplain led prayer.... "In Jesus' Holy Name, Amen".

A wonderful thing about being a Christian, is strength in numbers.

Anonymous said...

Now people are saying they are opposed to Using "God’s name or saying Jesus" out loud...however that piece of paper that has a value on it - everyone seem to want...No one’s offended about possessing the oh mighty Dollar -

If it offends you that much don't listen...if you can't hack that then leave...