Town of Greece v. Galloway is a US Supreme Court case to heard in the fall that might set the boundaries for prayers before town council meetings so they aren’t a violation of the separation of church and state. One interesting thing to come out of the pre-hearing filings is that the Obama administration is supporting the prayers. I really never knew why it was so important for an elected body to pray before working since prayers don’t make elected officials do a better job nor do the prayers improve living in a certain town or county. As one church state group put it, a town council meeting ‘isn’t a church service and it shouldn’t seem like one.’ Continue reading →
The new year begins much like the old year ended with unnecessary calls for “returning” religious prayer to the public schools. Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse (R) introduced a bill, on the first day of a new legislative session, to force children in public schools to pray at the start of each day. Not only would such a law violate the 1st amendment, it simply isn’t needed. Prayer wasn’t removed from schools, only forced recitation is prohibited. Continue reading →
The mayor of Columbus, Ohio, Michael B. Coleman has been sponsoring and hosting an Interfaith Prayer Luncheon for the past 13 years and using city resources to sell tickets and promote it. Last week he got a letter from the Freedom of Religion Foundation letting him know that the luncheon violated the law. He decided to not to get a legal opinion from the city legal department but in his speech at the event he doubled down on violating the law. Continue reading →
Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, announced his intention to run for President of the United States. His overt religious views are a big concern. He recently hosted a prayer event in Houston’s Reliant Stadium that included major religious right groups like the American Family Association, people like Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and others. He has called on prayer to solve Texas’ drought and also for our current nationwide economic problems. It hasn’t worked yet. Continue reading →
It’s really hard for some religious believers to understand why the separation of church and state is really important. In an effort to advance the cause in support of strong separation I have come up with a good analogy to explain it. I call it “The Sports Analogy”. Continue reading →
President Obama gave a speech on the BP Oil spill tonight. While I heard some good things, the end of the speech however didn’t thrill me. How many times do we need to say that praying won’t stop the leak or clean up the Gulf?
Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region’s fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe. It’s called “The Blessing of the Fleet,” and today it’s a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea -– some for weeks at a time.
The ceremony goes on in good times and in bad. It took place after Katrina, and it took place a few weeks ago –- at the beginning of the most difficult season these fishermen have ever faced.
And still, they came and they prayed. For as a priest and former fisherman once said of the tradition, “The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. The blessing is that He is with us always,” a blessing that’s granted “even in the midst of the storm.”
The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again. What sees us through -– what has always seen us through –- is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it.
Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.