That was the title of a recent article on a liberal rag website called "Slate" in response to a recent Supreme Court decision allowing prayers to be held before municipal meetings. The author of that article is a Dahlia Lithwick who writes about law and the courts for this rag. Besides Slate she comments for a who's who of Leftist publications. The Supreme Court decision in question was Town of Greece, NY vs.Galloway, a case that involved opening a municipal council meeting with a prayer. Mind you that Greece is primarily a Christian community and it would make perfect sense that the town would draw on Christian clergy to deliver this prayer. After the initial objections, they invited other denominations to deliver the opening prayer and one was even a practitioner of Wicca. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decided the practice violated the Establishment Clause and the town pursued the case to the Supreme Court and won in a 5-4 decision.
Lithwick's article is the archetype article on the Left regarding their reaction to the decision. There are so many things wrong with her article and her arguments yet it is the epitome of stupidity of the Left where religion is concerned. But then again, this is a group that centers their mantra on an few lines from a letter by Thomas Jefferson while ignoring the actual text of the Constitution and the history behind that text. In fact,other Leftist commentary on the decision disparages that history and history itself in general. Of course,these are the same folks who wish to rewrite that very history to advance their own agenda.
Let's parse a few quotes from the Lithwick article:
Today, on the usual 5-4 lines, the Supreme Court reversed the appeals court, finding that even sectarian prayers offered in Greece do not violate the Constitution, and, more importantly, that outside prayers that "threaten damnation or preach conversion", neither state legislatures nor the judicial branch should play any role in second-guessing the religious leaders conducting prayer sessions. From now on,we just do as the religious majorities says so long as nobody is damned or converted.
A few thoughts here. First, although the majority of the prayers offered in Greece were delivered by Christian clergy, they were general prayers that did not "damn" nor seek to convert anyone. In fact, not a single prayer cited in the record was as much as disparaging towards another religion. Yes, they did mention "Jesus Christ," "our Lord,"or "God" but that is to be expected in a prayer. But to the Left, the mere mention of these words is an endorsement of religion and a de facto establishment of religion. Secondly, a opening prayer is not a "prayer session" as the author asserts. It is no better and no worse than a benediction which is common at the beginning of state and federal legislative sessions. No one- but NO ONE- forced anyone to pray, bless themselves in the sign of the cross or even remain in the room while this took place. No one was even required to bow to their heads. Third, as far as barring legislatures and the judiciary from "second-guessing" here, kudos to Anthony Kennedy. It is high time someone had the balls to get the courts out of this silliness. Thus, "doing as the religious majority says" is Leftist hyperbole of the highest order.
Another direct quote:
...stepping back from the specific arguments of the plurality and the dissent, it is fascinating to see how Kennedy and Justice Alito relentlessly characterize religion as an essentially peaceful,civilizing, lofty influence that seems to do more with social politeness than religious zeal. Kennedy's majority opinion contains the complete texts of four prayers, presumably to calm and unify his stressed-out reader, and he writes lovingly of prayer that is "solemn and respectful in tone, that invites lawmakers to reflect upon shared ideals and common ends before they embark on the fractious business of governing." He seems unaware that for every respectful and solemn prayer, America offers up dozens of fiery,judgmental and even violent ones.
The first striking thing about this quote is the apparent hostility of the writer towards religion. It outright dismisses things like peacefulness, civility and lofty influence. The writer sees a 12:1 ratio of "fiery, judgmental or violent" prayers to respectful and solemn prayers. It is quite obvious this writer and the Left in general fails to grasp the basic teachings of Christianity and their statements make more sense if talking about radical Islam than mainstream Christianity. That is, this is the same Left that defends fiery rhetoric in mosques yet then attacks the more peaceful message of Christianity.
Leaving aside the legal construct of the "coercion test" which the Court used to analyze the constitutionality of this action, it became obvious from the oral arguments that the majority would rule this way. But the recent analysis and rants in Leftist publications leaves out some important points. For example, Kennedy's opinion lays out some general ground rules such as the prayer being recited during a ceremonial part of a meeting and not during its business part thus allowing those who wish to avoid the prayer to come a few minutes late to a council meeting. Members of the body can join in the prayer, bow their heads or even pay a chaplain without running afoul of the Constitution. The prayer can mention a deity, but cannot promote any particular faith to the exclusion of others, nor can it disparage or discriminate against another faith. And contrary to popular belief on the Left, courts are not excluded henceforth from Establishment Clause jurisprudence, but simply blocked from second-guessing prayer content or mandating content and they are to look at the pattern of prayers offered to determine if they run afoul of the promotion/disparagement rules. All in all, Kennedy's decision makes it harder for any atheist Tom, Dick or Harry from challenging these prayers because they may feel "offended" or subtly coerced which is what the particulars in this case boil down to. Left alone, the cross on a church or a message on a message board outside a church viewed by a passing motorist on a state road could conceivably be considered "subtle coercion."
Most importantly, contrary to the sarcastic title of the Slate article, would having a little more "Jesus in your life" be such a bad thing? To the Left, the answer is a resounding "Yes." But this is to be expected from a mindset dedicated to eradicating religion totally from public life because of its inherent hostility towards religion in general based upon a misreading of a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Convention. They denigrate the historical context of the Establishment Clause because that history contradicts their worldview when it comes to this Clause. The fact remains that the Establishment Clause provides the very constitutional cover for what they fret about from this decision- a religiously pluralistic society. When not directly attacking religion in general and Christianity in particular, the new argument is that this decision will repress or suppress minority religions. In other words, despite their historical hostility to religion, the Left now portray themselves as defenders of religion and their best method of defense is to wipe religion from public life. The logic is circular, internally inconsistent and quite hypocritical. The last thing religion in general needs is the Left "defending" it because its defense is its obliteration, denial of it, or historical revisionism of the worst order.