Written by Jim Kouri
May 1, 2008
by Jim Kouri
The early 1970s, a famous rock band, The Doobie Brothers, sang "Jesus Is Just Alright with Me", but apparently He's not alright with the American Civil Liberties Union in North Carolina.
The incident duriing ACLU started rattling their legal sabers at the Winston-Salem City Council recently, complaining that the decades long tradition of having council meetings opened with a prayer by a local pastor is unconstitutional because the pastors leading the invocation used the name of Jesus.
Pastors in the Winston-Salem area are already mobilizing to fight this Traditionalist v. Secular Progressive battle in their own backyard.
The establishment clause of the US Constitution's First Amendment says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free expression thereof .... "
Of course, the argument of how the mentioning of the name Jesus during a simple prayer is establishing a national religion appears to escape the ACLU and many legal scholars, and because of nine feckless black-robed lawyers on the US Supreme Court, the confusion will probably continue.
According to the ACLU and their supporters in the news media, when the city council has Christian preachers start its meetings with prayers to Jesus, it stands to reason that "somebody might get the idea that the council favors Christianity over other religions."
In the eyes of ACLU lawyers and their cheerleaders, someone might get the wrong idea about 75% of the US population favoring Christianity because they attend Catholic or Protestant churches on Sunday. Talk to most practicing Jews and rabbis -- not the ACLU and university campus types -- and you'll find they have no problem with Christians praying to Jesus or invoking the name of Jesus whether it's in the privacy of their homes or at the start of a government meeting.
Does anyone believe that if a rabbi came to a city council meeting and mentioned Yahweh during the opening prayer, the Jewish cleric would be pulling a fast one and establishing Judaism as the national religion? Now, perhaps some Muslims may become offended, but they usually are easily offended as was evidenced by the global uproar over a few Danish newspaper cartoons or a bogus news story about a Koran being flushed down the toilet.
So, using the logic of the ACLU, because a few individuals may feel uncomfortable or offended hearing the name Jesus, invoking his name at a public gathering in a government building must be curtailed due to the offended person's immaturity? Someone too stupid to understand the difference between tradition and proselytizing should not be allowed in a government building, but then we'd have to fire or impeach half the lawmakers in Washington.
Christian invocations -- which are also standard practice before many other government meetings in this region -- simply reflect Christian history of the area, and the fact that Christianity is the majority religion.
But the ACLU counters: How would Christians feel if they had little choice but to hear Muslim invocations at government meetings -- as millions of residents of the Middle East are forced to do? So not only are Christians exclusionary, but we're stupid as well and can't tell the difference between a "tradition" and a religious Jihad. I hear the name Allah all the time and haven't felt as if the state religion is Islam. In California, while Jesus cannot be uttered in grade school classrooms, children are directed to wear Islamic costumes and read about Allah. Has Islam become the national religion because a bunch of kids mimic Muslims?
The ACLU also claims that the right to free expression of religion ends when it starts to blur the line between church and state. Where does it say that in the First Amendment?
Actually, it was Associate Justice Hugo Black, a former Ku Klux Klan member, who used the term "separation of church and state." Justice Black was well-known for his hatred of what he termed American Papists.
This council meeting prayer issue first surfaced in Forsyth County when the ACLU expressed concern about sectarian prayer in invocations at meetings of the council and the county board of commissioners. In that case, City Attorney Ron Seeber and County Attorney Davida Martin caved into the ACLU. They said that prayers to Jesus at public meetings could be replaced by either nonsectarian prayer or a moment of silence, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
However, Gloria Whisenhunt, the chairwoman of the Forsyth County board of commissioners said: "I don't see us banning prayer, and I don't see us asking ministers to change the way they pray. I don't think we're bothering anyone, quite frankly."
Seeber proposed that clergy, before giving invocations, sign papers agreeing to guidelines to be followed by the pastors as to what is allowed or not allowed during the brief opening prayer.
But -- here's the lunacy -- that would smack of clergy entering into a contract with the state, blurring the line between church and state and leaving clergy open to being dragged into court for lawsuits. So the ACLU believes firm guidelines are enough.
In a Winston-Salem Journal editorial on this issue, the writer(s) stated: " When council members and commissioners consider their options, they should remember that nobody's trying to end prayer at their meetings. Prayers given by Christian leaders or leaders from other religions that don't name a specific entity are welcome. So are moments of silence, during which anybody can freely pray to Jesus or Allah or Buddha or whomever."
Dictators! Reasonable ones perhaps, but dictators all the same.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's the new editor for the House Conservatives Fund's weblog. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri's own website is located at http://jimkouri.us