Santa Maria Sun / Letters to the Editor
There are lots of places to legally pray
Pearl Munak - Paso Robles -
I am a regular churchgoer and a strong believer in the Constitution, and especially the First Amendment. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or interfering with the free exercise thereof.
As a child in the public schools of Houston, we recited the Lord’s Prayer every day, mechanically, despite the fact there were Jewish children present. I believed then that this was unconstitutional and un-American, as the government school was forcing Jews to recite a Christian prayer. It convinced me that grown-ups could and would defy the law and impede the rights of others if they saw it as being it to their advantage and could get away with it, and our Constitution meant nothing if it was not enforced. It was frightening and disillusioning.
Courts have said that Congress and other governmental bodies can do it because they are grown-ups. Some opinions are based on it being a long-standing practice. I do not believe that an illegal act that has been done for a long time becomes legal because of that. Councilmembers are free to pray in church, or on a street corner, or at home, or silently and individually in council meetings, or at any other times, but not to make it a part of the governmental proceedings. It is easy to tell the difference between individual rights and freedoms and forcing others to participate in an outward expression of beliefs that they do not share.
Jesus never forced anyone to believe as he did. That is impossible.
L. Paul Carpenter - Arroyo Grande -
Heidi Flanagan wants to “draw a line in the sand” and fight for legislative prayer. (“It’s time to fight,” July 17.) She says this isn’t just for “Christianity per se.” Great! Then I can inform the City Council about my Earth Goddess Geo-Gaia and how ticked off she is at humans for climate pollution. It’s good to know the legal fees will be covered pro bono (and pro-life) by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which was so successful in running the recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case.
Of course, you might say praying to a Supreme Being before a legislative meeting is just passing the buck. Many believe that “acts of God” like hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and town-killing tornados are powered by human-caused climate change. If so, prayer is no substitute for legislative action such as a carbon tax. ChurchoftheGoddess.org teaches us that climate disasters are just a warning to obey the natural laws of Earth science and cut carbon pollution.