Thursday, December 01, 2005

Proverbs 29:2

The Indianapolis Star reports:

Judge David Hamilton found that the House practice breached the clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibiting government establishment of religion. While not banning prayers in the House, Hamilton ordered that any person chosen to give the invocation be instructed it must not advance any one faith or be used in a bid to convert listeners....

The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four citizens. The suit contended the House prayers -- a 188-year tradition -- overwhelmingly promoted Christian values....

"If the Speaker chooses to continue to permit nonsectarian prayers as part of the official proceedings, he shall advise all persons offering such prayers . . . that the prayers must be non-sectarian and must not be used to proselytize or advance any one faith or belief or to disparage any other faith or belief." Added Hamilton: "The prayers should not use Christ's name or title or any other denominational appeal."...

Rabbi Jon Adland, Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, praised the court decision. He was among those who submitted affidavits on behalf of the ICLU.

Adland said he has been a strong advocate for the separation of church and state. That doesn't mean, he added, that there can be no prayers in public buildings. But, he said, "if you're going to have prayer it has to be inclusive of all people."

Imam Umar Al-Khattab, of the Masjid Al Fajr on Cold Spring Road, said he doesn't think it's unreasonable to ask religious leaders to offer House prayers applicable to all faiths. "When you say Jesus or Buddha that's exclusive," he said....

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the right of government bodies to open sessions with a prayer, noting the "unambiguous and unbroken history of more than 200 years." But in the 1983 high court decision, the justices said the prayers can't promote one religion over another or disparage any other religion. The justices also ruled the prayers cannot be used in an attempt to convert.

How does one go about offering a prayer that's consistent with all beliefs? Do we have to be inclusive of atheists, Satanists, polytheists, and pantheists? Or do we have to be pluralistic only to some extent, not entirely? Is limited religious pluralism equivalent to secularism? No. The next step is for these people to acknowledge the irrationality of their current position and seek to outlaw all prayers before sessions of government, all references to God on our currency, etc. This irrational argument for a limited religious pluralism is just one step on the way to a different destination.

Today's Indianapolis Star also has a ridiculous editorial on this subject by Ruth Holladay. Here's one of the worst parts of it:

Tony Hinrichs stood outside the Indiana House chambers last April, shaking his head.

Then a lobbyist for the Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation, he was listening to opening prayers -- an enthusiastic message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Not exactly, he said to himself, the tone that state government should set.

Another listener joked that Hinrichs should have been there the day before. That prayer included singing a Christian hymn -- prompting Rep. David Orentlicher, D-Indianapolis, who is Jewish, to walk out.

That cut to the core of the Quaker's faith.

"If we don't understand that being Christian means accepting other people, then there is something wrong," Hinrichs, 58, said Wednesday.

There is something wrong.

What does it mean to "accept other people"? To never say anything that upsets them? Does it mean making every action of our government agreeable to Satanists, Hindus, Moslems, and atheists? How do we do that?

The editorial ends on a positive note, though the author didn't intend it to be taken positively:

But Hinrichs took heat from his own church for his stand.

"While he has every right to take such action as an individual, he does not represent the views of most Quakers in Indiana," Doug Shoemaker, general superintendent of the Indiana Yearly Meeting, said recently, referring to Hinrichs' role in the lawsuit.

Then, Hinrichs was fired.

In other news related to corrupt judges, South Africa's highest court has given the South African legislature one year to change the state definition of marriage so as to be inclusive of homosexual marriage.