To follow up on the obviously unconstitutional practice of opening city council meetings with a collective recitation from the Gospel According To Matthew.
A few days ago, the P-G reported:
Monroeville council meetings no longer will begin with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, a practice the municipality had engaged in for nearly 50 years.That specific prayer started with these words:
On Monday, council unanimously voted in favor of starting its meetings with a moment of silence and voted down an invocation ordinance that would have called on various community religious leaders to lead council in prayer prior to meetings.
Council’s discussion and vote on the matter stemmed from a complaint that resident Josh Allenberg filed last fall with the American Civil Liberties Union, asking elected officials to refrain from reciting a specific prayer.
Our Father, who art in heaven...Surely a text that officially establishes the Monroeville City Council's position on a number of religious topics (on the existence of a Supreme Being, on an afterlife, on the relationship between humanity and that Supreme Being and so on) for the Monroeville as a whole. In doing so, in making the recitation of the prayer an official act that opened each meeting the City Council, it seems to me, violated the 1st Amendment. Clearly, it did.
Good for them for stopping such an unconstitutional practice. When things like this happen, we all win.
Of course there were opponents of the change. From the P-G:
“I don’t know how council can make decisions without prayer,” the Rev. Bruce Shafer, pastor of Grace Life Church in Monroeville, said at Monday’s meeting prior to the vote. “I don’t know how you can do your job without prayer.”This one is easy: You use your brain and think for yourself.
The P-G reported this in the next paragraph:
He proceeded to recite the Lord’s Prayer during his public comment.An act that, incidentally, the 1st Amendment protects. As a citizen, he's free to say what he believes, just as any Monroeville resident who's a muslim is free to open his (or her) comments with "Allāhu Akbar" or any skeptic is free to follow those comments with "No, God is NOT great."
See how that works? Everyone is free to express their own beliefs - what's not allowed is the government (at any level) to say, "See that one? That belief? That one's the right one."
Of course our friends on the Tribune-Review braintrust miss the point entirely:
Lance: To Monroeville. Threatened with an ACLU lawsuit over the mayor's practice of reciting the Lord's Prayer before council meetings, it then considered having various local religious leaders open meetings with an invocation. But it reversed course this week and opted instead, at the suggestion of the Monroeville Interfaith Ministerium, for a moment of silence. Some will call this a “compromise.” Thinking people will call it a “capitulation” and an affront to all faiths.[Bolding in Original.]And then there are those of us who will call this a much needed bit of constitutional protection - for everybody.