Tablet Opinion

To pray or not to pray; that is the question

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard arguments on a case about the constitutionality of opening official events like a city council meeting with a prayer. The two people who brought the case say they should not have to take part in or sit through a prayer in order to participate in local government affairs. Are they right?

The plaintiffs are wrong for two reasons:

— Joel Downs, Hurst

It’s ironic that anyone would challenge the constitutionality of prayer at official events when the men who penned the Constitution had faith in and recognized the sovereignty of God.

What harm is there is in sitting through a prayer that you’re not participating in at an official event?

If you want to banish the freedom of others to recognize God if they choose, maybe you would prefer to live in a communist country.

— Elizabeth Powell, Roanoke

The litigants are right. They shouldn’t be forced to participate in prayer or be compelled to listen to it. All they have to do is leave the room before the prayer or buy earplugs. Problem solved!

— Hans Wasner,

North Richland Hills

Considering all the problems in the world, is it really necessary to complain about a prayer?

I’d say to the two people who brought the case to the Supreme Court:

Don’t you have anything constructive to do with your time?

Do us all a favor and get a life.

— Lynn Miller, Hurst

We live in a multireligious society and no generic prayer would pass the litmus test of acceptability to everyone.

The Supreme Court has ruled that prayer at high school graduations is unconstitutional, and considering that we have such diverse religions and viewpoints, the question is answered: Eliminate the prayers.

— Darlene Rogers, Fort Worth

I continue to be amazed by the uproar over “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance.

My generation recited the pledge with the words “under God,” but my parents’ generation did not.

It was added in 1954 because a special-interest group — the Knights of Columbus — convinced Congress to do so.

It then became not only a pledge to our country and our flag, but also a public prayer.

This country was founded on the principle that church and state must remain separate — that our country will not ask its citizens to worship or acknowledge any particular god.

Why can’t we pledge our allegiance without being forced to acknowledge a God in which many of our citizens don’t believe?

— Nancy John, Fort Worth

Sorry to hear about people who don’t want to hear a prayer preceding a city council meeting.

As a Christian, I believe the purpose of a prayer is to bring all minds and hearts together, humble ourselves, seek divine guidance and understanding of differing opinions, and especially patience with, and respect for, the needs and wants of others.

— Brenda Brown,

North Richland Hills

If you know that a prayer will be offered at the beginning of any event, it’s OK for you to stay outside until after the prayer.

Just remember that when you do take a seat, you’ll be under the blessings of those prayers.

— Sarah Walker, Fort Worth

No one should be required to participate in prayers. However, those who don’t want to participate should respect the rights of others and remain quiet and respectful.

Was not this country founded on religious principles?

— Edward Lindsay, Fort Worth

To make an American feel excluded from his or her own government is not good. Imagine how uncomfortable many Christians would feel if a city council were to open a meeting with a prayer to Allah.

My wife was working for the city of Fort Worth at the time 9-11 happened. The city had a memorial service for all city employees soon afterward.

Both my wife, who is an atheist, and a Buddhist friend felt very alone and unconnected with their fellow Americans when everyone was asked to bow their heads in a Christian prayer.

It’s far better to just open with a moment of silence and allow each to pray, or not, as they wish, in the manner they find most fit.

— Bill Robinson, Arlington

This is still one nation, under God.

If my Christian faith and a public prayer offends anyone, I ask them to be tolerant while we pray. I am what I am and won’t compromise who I am.

— Rob Porter,

North Richland Hills

Our forefathers came here because of religious persecution. They developed laws and created a Constitution based on our belief in God. No one should be forced to pray if they so desire, but don’t try to stop those of us who do.

As to the two who don’t wish to participate in prayer during government affairs, they should shut their mouths, sit quietly and allow the courtesy to those who do.

The same applies to those in schools. If you don’t want to pray, remove yourselves and sit quietly until they finish.

— Joe Martinez, Arlington

There’s no place for prayer at government meetings because it can be coercive.

Why not have a period of silence before the proceedings? Those so inclined could pray while others could balance their checkbook or whatever?

— David Roll, Colleyville

My, my! How terrible it must be to silently sit through a short prayer at a council meeting!

— George J. Anthony, Fort Worth

I’m against prayers. Period. They serve only to satisfy one’s inner self. They have no power as there is nothing to generate a response.

Prayers are the product of religions to meld their membership in a cause that makes tax-free money.

A humanist association, such as one in Manchester, England, that I’ve seen on TV, helps the poor and sick without a money-oriented religious establishment skimming off the top.

— Derek Sidwell, Fort Worth

Prayer should be a private affair, or, if one wants to do it communally, there is a plethora of religious institutions.

It’s not only a matter of freedom of religion; it’s a matter of freedom from religion.

There’s no longer a place in this society for exclusionary and prejudiced practices. So therefore prayer in public meetings of any sort should be banned.

— Lindsay Davidson, Granbury

A sonnet written by Emma Lazarus more than 150 years ago is inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. It’s a defining statement for all those who came, and still come, to America in search of freedom.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Coupled with our Constitution’s guarantees of an individual’s right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” America’s promise is shared by all.

By design and decree, personal freedom dictates no single religion shall have standing over another in America. Pray silently.

— Robert Moore, Fort Worth

When will people see the light? The more God is pushed out of every aspect of life, Satan finds a gaping hole to enter in.

Prayer was taken out of public schools and now gun violence and inappropriate relationships between teachers and students run rampant.

People should keep the Lord’s day holy by worshiping first, not putting shopping first.

When God is pushed out of every aspect of human life, we lose our precious freedom and peace of mind. Those of us who believe in worshiping the one true God, must pray for the conversion of all hearts and souls. Our future here on this earth depends on it.

— Theresa Thompson, Benbrook

Opening a public meeting with a prayer is divisive.

Religion is fractured into numerous denominations, sects and cults because of disagreements over which god to worship.

Our forefathers designed a secular government to avoid favoring any specific religion. Instead of issuing utterances to the sky, we should make better use of the time by talking with each other.

Beliefs come and go but we’re the ones who have to solve our problems.

— Marty Davis, Keller

Because a prayer is only for good, one has to ponder what could possibly be objectionable to nonbelievers. Even atheists could prosper from a prayer.

Those who demand that prayer be removed from official events seem to be in the same rabble-rousing category as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the American Civil Liberties Union and numerous starlets and politicians, who exert every effort to break down the mores of our society.

— Grady Fuller, Kennedale

I’m a strong believer in prayer. I’m sorry for those who don’t have the opportunity to talk to our Heavenly Father. They don’t know the joy of knowing him.

If a person doesn’t want to hear the prayer, perhaps they could use earplugs.

— Virginia Mowell, Fort Worth


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