Readers sound off on public prayer

Posted Sunday, May. 18, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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All Points each Monday features reader responses to a question posed by the Editorial Board. With each week’s responses comes the next week’s question. All Points responses are not counted toward the monthly limit of one letter to the editor from each writer. Readers are welcome to send their own ideas for All Points topics to Editorial Director Mike Norman, mnorman@star-telegram.com.

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In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court said official public prayer to start a high school football game “has the improper effect of coercing those present to participate in an act of religious worship.”

In 2014, the high court has said that official public prayer to start a meeting of a local government body has a “permissible ceremonial purpose” and is not an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

How can both be right? Which is wrong?

We should pray for guidance for all things and at all times.

Prayer prior to a public event should be expected, anticipated and appreciated.

I would begin all public events with prayer, followed by The Star-Spangled Banner and Pledge of Allegiance.

My family, children and grandchildren were raised to love God and country without compromise.

That should never change and never be up for debate.

— Rob Porter, North Richland Hills

Everybody can just say your own prayers — just like I do all day.

But I don’t force my prayers on anyone.

They are my prayers.

Real Christians respect all religions.

— Jodie Wright-Tepfer, Bedford

It may be silly of me, but no one can coerce me to pray!

Furthermore, no one can stop me from praying.

— Marti Powell, Fort Worth

Roll call:

For God, Jesus Christ and the Bible: Justices Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia.

Honor them.

Against: Justices Kagan, Sotomayor (thank Obama for these two), Ginsberg, Breyer.

Contemptible.

Who knows? Justice Kennedy, usually wrong-headed, probably politically motivated. His justification of the “approval” is plain silly.

For judges to “approve” prayer is just as contemptible, just as unconstitutional as to forbid it.

— Al McCann, Colleyville

We were taught to be tolerant of all beliefs, unlike many countries outside the United States.

The Constitution says nothing about separation of government and religion — it guarantees freedom from government interference with religion. Restricting prayer anywhere is interfering with religion.

New York City allows Muslims to tie up traffic so they can pray in the streets, yet numerous states won’t allow prayer for public meetings, in schools, at sporting events, you name it.

Any restriction of any prayer by the government, no matter where that prayer takes place, is unconstitutional because the government is interfering.

— Jim Stark, Mansfield

The Supreme Court was wrong in 2000. The problem lies in the understanding of the word “worship.”

Worship is the ceremony or prayers by which reverent love and devotion and honor for deity is expressed.

This would lead one to expect that those participating in true worship would indeed have a reverent love for God and a desire to honor him.

You are not worshiping just because you are standing in a room with people who are worshiping.

It is quite simply ceremony and therefore not an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

— Jennifer Curtis, Arlington

Because I suspect that there is an intelligence responsible for the remarkable reality we find ourselves embedded in (although not yet proven scientifically), the ritual of public prayer doesn’t bother me.

However, I do believe that it should be generic to respect the spectrum of beliefs at public meetings and football games. People listening will insert their own deities into the prayer.

It’s not clear to me whether the recent court decision applies to the earlier one. Based on my own experience when our kiddos played sports, I believe that the resentment at football games was acerbated because the prayer emphasized one particular religion.

And I would hope that atheists would be tolerant and not feel coerced with these ceremonial proceedings, comfortable with their own feelings. It seems silly to have to begin each prayer with, “For those of you who believe...”

— Jim Hahn, Fort Worth

One of the great concerns of our Founders was the tyranny of the majority: that by the use of their numbers and the culture that results, the rights of the majority would wind up trampling over the supposedly equally protected rights of the minority.

All three of the non-Christian justices voted against this ruling and strongly disagreed. All but one of the Christian judges approved official public prayers.

Those that have the power of the majority on their side are often as unaware of this power as a fish is of the ocean it swims in. However, those who are not fish and are trying to survive in its waters are very much aware of its dangers.

— Bill Robinson, Arlington

Whether us individually or at a public gathering, a prayer is a request that we’re able to make the best decisions available in all that’s done.

Let’s have public prayer.

— Bob Burns, Granbury

Belief and prayer are choices, and we’ve gone so far off by taking unnecessary things to court.

Why should a non-believer infringe on a believer’s choice?

America has always been a godly country.

If anyone doesn’t want to pray, don’t, but don’t feel your choice is unanimous either.

I pray everyday that those making decisions for me and others believe in prayer and seek guidance from the one who created everything.

Prayers are being answered.

The choice belongs to each individual.

— Jonita M. Sanders, Fort Worth

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