I’ve been very involved in my local town hall. At this month’s meeting they started the tradition of adding saying the Pledge of Allegiance (fine) and a Christian prayer (not fine). When I voiced my opinion opposing this, I was told that Congress and most of then surrounding municipalities do this. They also added that if I didn’t like it, I should step outside during this part of the meeting. I haven’t begun researching counterinformation yet. I’m pretty sure anyone not Christian is viewed as not worthy of life.
This is a small rural community. Any suggestions on valid arguments that might make sense to decision makers (who are all older, white, good ole boys from the country)? Or should I save my breath?
Quote Matthew to them and then express your concerns about meeting with a group of hypocrites and blasphemers...
Matthew 6:5-6 New International Version (NIV)
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Not sure how long the Christian prayer is, but you could always recite the Deteriorata instead:
"Deteriorata" - National Lampoon
You are a fluke of the universe. You have no right to be here.
Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself,
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss, and when.
Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do.
Wherever possible, put people on hold.
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment,
and despite the changing fortunes of time,
There is always a big future in computer maintenance.
Remember The Pueblo.
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate.
Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
Especially with those persons closest to you -
That lemon on your left, for instance.
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love therefore. It will stick to your face.
Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan.
And let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
Hire people with hooks.
For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken.
Take heart in the bedeepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese.
And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot,
It could only be worse in Milwaukee.
You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.
Therefore, make peace with your god,
Whatever you perceive him to be - hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
The world continues to deteriorate.
Any pragmatist would suggest saving your breath. If you really want to oppose it try a 'letter to the editor'.
Not sure if any of my arguments would work, but people are free to pray, sing, pledge, handle snakes and roll on the floor about any time the 'spirit' moves them as long as they don't interfere with others' rights to be free of the nonsense by imposing it on them.
The business of a 'town hall', or for that matter even athletic events, is the PURPOSE for the gathering. My suggestion is and has always been for them to merely publish an actual meeting/event start time and a pre-meeting ritual start time that allows ritual participants adequate time and freedom to babble in or out of tongues, sing, pledge or anything else on the pre-meeting agenda. It is a win:win.
The theological fanatics wishing to use any and all gatherings to aggrandize themselves by taking turns at the 'invocations' will fight it tooth and nail because it's viewed as good exposure - advertizing for their respective congregations. If you are in a community of civilized people who are fair minded and who are closeted objectors too, it might make some progress.
By announcing two times it shows recognition and respect for their craziness while providing those who are there for 'business' an opportunity to get to it without squirming through a bunch of superstitious hoo haa.
Well...from the brief google search I just did...you are both right. Seems the Supreme Court ruled about a decade ago that it was ok...but also ruled against schools organizing prayer type functions. Of course the Supreme Court upheld slavery at one time, and other injustices, that were only changed once people in general got their heads out of their colons. I don't give too much moral or justice credence to them. Seems they typically just rubber stamp whatever is in the governments interest at the time.
I would do some research, possibly reach out to the ACLU or similar organizations to get knowledgeable legal input. I would also see about recruiting other religious organizations to come in and pray (wiccians, Jewish Rabbis, Native American Shamans, Satanists, etc). From what I can tell, they can do it, but can't only allow certain religions (Christians) while refusing others (Muslim Imans).
On another note, how important is this issue to you. You might be right and get it blocked, but at what cost to your ability to chime in on other topics. While it shouldn't matter, we all know that if you raise a ruckus on this, all the Bibe-thumpers will ignore you on anything and everything else you might say going forward.
I agree with another comment here.call the church of satan. They will send a priest out to say a satanic prayer before the hall. You won't BELIEVE how quickly they will change the guidelines on praying before once that happens. Hell, if your close to Minnesota, I may do it for you. Getting the paper work to be a member of the s.t. is pretty easy, I hear.
You might begin by asking if people of all religions are welcome to our town hall or only Christians. Presumably they will indicate that, yes, all religions are welcome. In that case suggest that different religious leaders come in and lead the prayers of their respective religions. In my experience that is usually rejected and the explanation is usually something like "We simply prefer Christian prayers because most of us are Christians". To insist that, in oder to make all religions feel welcome, we should do prayers in as many different religions as people can be found to represent those religions. People frequently become pretty defensive at allowing prayers in different religions but, as an exercise, it (hopefully) demonstrates the religious bias so many people have. It might even demonstrate that religion really has no place in a town hall meeting. - Just a thought.
Save your breath! You would probably get into a bit of a mess with these guys as rationale isn't the strong suit. Even going outside will cause problems. If you want peace and quiet in that area probably best to keep go along and think your own thoughts while the prayers are happening. Principles are all very well but one has to be aware of responses to them and are we happy to live with any fallout.
You should say you've had a change of heart and ask to lead a prayer. Then use some really offensive Bible quote to support something really offensive. Something like
"Today, Lord, give us the strength to stand against even our own family when they sin. For, as Leviticus 21:9 tells us - 'A priest’s daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death.'"
Check out [evilbible.com]
Or not. I probably wouldn't be that brave. ?
I thought when I read your post that you must live in NC. But no, I am surprised at this happening in Maryland. My son lives in Columbia MD, which is very liberal and mixed with all races and religions. Why don't you call the nearest local newpaper to the town and ask them what should you say when told to leave the meeting while a few practice their one religion. Maybe they will make an article out of it.
I would contact the FFRF. If it is a local Government meeting you might gave some success. If it's a private group meeting in a government building I doubt you can have an impact.you can aleays bring a church of Satan or Muslim priest in and have them say a prayer. and hand out literature. The group then might stop with preying.
I just loudly fidget in situations like this. It irritates and annoys me, but doesn't really bother me that much.
You might suggest that once or twice a year they invite a humanist chaplain or celebrant to give a humanistic evocation, offering inspirational words of wisdom enshrining human values and ethics.
Perhaps back up any suggestions or complaints about the Christian prayers by providing up to date statistics of your town or county to show that some percentage of the citizens they serve should be included rather than offended by the worship of a supernatural deity. Humanistic prayers are all inclusive and non-offensive, as they address, well, humans, who in turn can pray to their god if desired, or inspired.