Christian prayer

Confessions of a progressive religiophobe

Some of you may have read Leonard Pitts' column over the weekend, and there are a few good points to keep in mind: "With oozing condescension, they lament that someone otherwise so smart and perceptive – i.e., someone who agrees with them on the issues – can’t let go of faith. For them, faith and progressive politics are incompatible."

Let me state upfront that I don't want to live in a state/country/world dominated by any specific religion, or even a generic hybrid. But at the same time, I also don't want to live in a world where people are afraid to admit they hold religious beliefs. And that's not any sort of "internal conflict," that is what America is supposed to be about. You don't have to be a historical scholar or a time traveler to figure out what the Founding Fathers had in mind on this subject, because it too is self-evident. But when it comes to political discussions, whether it's campaign rhetoric or policy decisions, religious views are simply out of place. Irrelevant, patently undemocratic, and more often than not, a vehicle for abusing the trust of those who are counting on leaders to make the right choices. More on church vs state below:

County Commissioners' prayer case may be headed to US Supreme Court

Please bow your head while you read this:

On Wednesday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 9-6 count, ruled that prayer practices by Jackson County, Michigan, commissioners do not violate the U.S. Constitution. The court said the commissioners in Michigan adopted a religion-neutral practice. Writing for the majority, Judge Richard Griffin said there is no evidence the board adopted its prayer practices with discriminatory intent.

The ruling does not directly affect Rowan County’s lawsuit. However, in what’s known as a circuit split, Wednesday’s decision could increase the chances that one or both cases will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

I wish they would just outlaw this and be done with it. I find myself in an increasingly uncomfortable position, because of my involvement in my Town's government. First of all, I serve on the Planning Board at the pleasure of the Board of Aldermen. I take that responsibility very seriously, and actively opposing them or the Mayor over a procedural issue is not something I'd care to do. There's too many things I want to accomplish, and we need each other's trust and support to do that. Second, I have run for office and (very likely) will do so again in the near future, and getting on the wrong side of local church leaders is an express ticket to failure at the ballot box. So I've got personal principles on one side and political realities on the other, and I feel like they're squeezing me. And that alone should be proof enough that prayer and (good) government don't mix.

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