Well, Jay, I enjoyed our debate last week at Gettysburg College and look forward to doing more live and in-person events. I hope you are now satisfied that no students in Kentucky were threatened with arrest and that all of the furor was caused by students who apparently didn’t believe that school rules applied to them. But onward…
Of course I cannot tolerate National Day of Prayer, the first Monday in May. The fact that the government has the audacity to declare such an event is mind-numbing. I always wonder what the Congress and the President think we should be doing that day: pray harder, longer, louder, or with hands more tightly clasped together?
I have actually participated in a number of “prayer plus” events that day, including one in Oklahoma City which featured speakers who were Christians, Jews, pagans, and atheists–as well as a Baptist gospel singer–all promoting the value of religious freedom for everybody.
Now, your argument in the Freedom From Religion lawsuit is highly problematic. The fact that historically there have been prayers at government events hardly dictates the conclusion that Congress should be able to set aside one day for special prayer recognition. But I know where you are going with this. You want to have the court do what I’ll admit a 5-4 majority did in a 2005 Supreme Court case involving the placement of a Ten Commandments monument near the Texas state capitol. There the majority basically concluded that since nobody had complained about it for 40 years, it couldn’t have been that big a deal and was therefore constitutional.
Although I am skeptical that the Ninth Circuit will adopt the Freedom From Religion view (and indeed may rule that the group lacks standing to even pursue the matter) I trust that it will never go as far as you suggest. Jay, of course history matters; however, so does the impact of new realities. One of those realities is that we have 2000 different religions in this country and 15-20 million nonbelievers, freethinkers, atheists and humanists. Congress would do well to stick to the things it knows something about (although at the moment I’m having trouble thinking what those topics might be) and leave any and all praying to those who do it and will continue to do it without their intervention.
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