Poll: 73% support allowing prayer before public meetings

posted at 3:21 pm on April 22, 2014 by Allahpundit

Yesterday’s culture-war-food-fight post seems to have achieved the desired effect. Let’s double down.

We haven’t covered it (I think) but there’s a case pending before SCOTUS right now that will decide the future of this subject. Like many legislatures (including Congress), a town in upstate New York begins every meeting of the city council with a prayer. It used to be that those prayers were overwhelmingly Christian, replete with invocations of Jesus. After a few locals complained, the town decided to keep the daily blessing but to start rotating in ministers from other faiths too to deliver it. Question for the Court: Does having a religiously diverse group of chaplains cure the Establishment Clause problem involved in starting official state business with a blessing? Or is any blessing ordered by government unconstitutional no matter who’s delivering it?

The public’s view of this is straightforward:

pray

Not only is there no group that thinks prayers before meetings should be verboten, only Democrats crack the 30th percentile. Which is what you’d expect if you’re familiar with polls on a related subject, prayer in public schools. There’s also partisan consensus supporting a constitutional amendment to allow that, albeit with a similar small dip among Dems. In fact, the public has never agreed with the Supreme Court’s decision banning school prayer by students — although, interestingly, opposition to it is lower than opposition to banning prayer before public meetings:

pew

There’s also a sharp divergence among different age demographics when you ask about school prayer that isn’t there when you ask about prayer before public meetings:

young

Why is the public heavily opposed to banning prayer before public meetings while not quite as heavily opposed to banning it in schools? My hunch is that it boils down to kids being more impressionable. If the great fear underlying the Establishment Clause is religious indoctrination by government, it stands to reason that you’d worry more about a 10-year-old’s ability to resist that than a 40-year-old’s. By the same logic, I’d guess that the public would be more tolerant of prayers before every class at the state university than prayers before every class at the local elementary school.

Exit question via Slate: Why is the DOJ on the side of the town in this one? You would think that a Department led by liberals would be sticklers about the Establishment Clause and thus on the side of the people trying to shut the blessings down. Is it a simple matter of the White House not wanting the political headache of being seen as anti-prayer, or are they trying to spare themselves some future lawsuits by taking this position? If religious mentions by legislatures are fair game for lawsuits, mentions by the executive will be fair game too.


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Prayers to Odin amirite har har har…

Murphy9 on April 22, 2014 at 3:23 PM

NEVER!!!! If you so much as mumble before the call to order you’ll be recalled!

WryTrvllr on April 22, 2014 at 3:26 PM

When its the local mufti’s turn, does the council have to get on their knees after the women have been ushered out of the room?

BobMbx on April 22, 2014 at 3:27 PM

I love the constitution. All of it. Even the part that talks about separation of church and state, so no to that idea.

coolrepublica on April 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM

This would be welcome news in NC! Hoping this ruling comes down on the pro-prayer side!

lineholder on April 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Does having a religiously diverse group of chaplains cure the Establishment Clause problem involved in starting official state business with a blessing?

i reject your premise.

dbilly76 on April 22, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Even the part that talks about separation of church and state

That should be easily quotable.

Murphy9 on April 22, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Even the part that talks about separation of church and state

Trying to figure out if this is sarc

Missy on April 22, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Since the pols show majority support the ruling will be against.

docflash on April 22, 2014 at 3:35 PM

I wonder what the Christians in Syria think about this?

celtic warrior on April 22, 2014 at 3:36 PM

i reject your premise.

dbilly76 on April 22, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Ditto. I do not see an establishment clause problem.

Missy on April 22, 2014 at 3:38 PM

That should be easily quotable.

Murphy9 on April 22, 2014 at 3:32 PM

lol! I see a wicked glint in your eye, Murph.:)

thatsafactjack on April 22, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Congressional Record–Appendix, pp. A34-A35 January 10, 1963

Current Communist Goals

#28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”

Schools are just a stepping stone

Roy Rogers on April 22, 2014 at 3:40 PM

When it Islam takes over, that will be closer to 100%.

KMC1 on April 22, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Yet we are held hostage by the athiest cabal.

neyney on April 22, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Atheist

neyney on April 22, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Separation between church and state is a good thing. If I am going to a public meeting I really would prefer not having to be submitted to any one’s religion. You want to pray go to church. Pray on your own time. God will not hold it not hold it against you if you don’t pray before the council meeting or what not.

What I find funny is the people who are clamoring to pray during public meetings would be the first ones outraged if the person doing the praying was a Muslim. By saying no to praying during public meetings we avoid all those minefields.

coolrepublica on April 22, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Even the part that talks about separation of church and state, so no to that idea.

coolrepublica on April 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM

I’m curious. Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state mentioned? The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; . . .

TarheelBen on April 22, 2014 at 3:44 PM

If only there was someway, somehow a theist could pray before attending the public meeting.

Any theologians here to answer this puzzling query?

Pablo Honey on April 22, 2014 at 3:45 PM

I love the constitution

So much so that you don’t even comprehend it and misrepresent it willfully to your own ends.

Pretty sweet. You moral relativists don’t deserve an iota of liberty.

Murphy9 on April 22, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Prayer to which god? (I think I know.) Ahura Mazda, Allah, Mithras, Odin and Osirus demand equal time! If your god knows what you think there is no need to blare it out in public meetings at the risk of offending someone else’s beliefs.

Annar on April 22, 2014 at 3:47 PM

You truly are a vacuous ass.

Annar on April 22, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Murphy9 on April 22, 2014 at 3:48 PM

What I find funny is the people who are clamoring to pray during public meetings would be the first ones outraged if the person doing the praying was a Muslim. By saying no to praying during public meetings we avoid all those minefields.

coolrepublica on April 22, 2014 at 3:43 PM

A little subconscious association there?

WryTrvllr on April 22, 2014 at 3:50 PM

I love the constitution. All of it. Even the part that talks about separation of church and state, so no to that idea.

coolrepublica on April 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Apparently you don’t love it enough to have read it. There is no “part that talks about separation of church and state”.

darwin on April 22, 2014 at 3:53 PM

From listening to Progressives, like Liz Warren, I never would have believed …

It turns out that 12 percent of the population will find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution for at least one year. What’s more, 39 percent of Americans will spend a year in the top 5 percent of the income distribution, 56 percent will find themselves in the top 10 percent, and a whopping 73 percent will spend a year in the top 20 percent of the income distribution.

Normally this would beg the question, who are the other 27% ? … but now I know

J_Crater on April 22, 2014 at 3:55 PM

People argue that the establishment/free exercise wording is effectively a “wall of separation” (as evidenced by this thread of comments). The problem is that the wall-thing is a metaphor, and is even more subject to perverse interpretation than the words actually in The Constitution.

Opening a government meeting with a prayer is clearly a free exercise. It could also arguably be the slippery slope to an establishment of religion. But it is not actually forcing views or allocating money to a particular state religion, so it is not really an establishment. In balancing these two ideas, I don’t see how any but the most hard core anti-religious nuts can be against allowing someone to speak their mind.

Fenris on April 22, 2014 at 4:01 PM

The militant atheists are just as mean and hateful as the Gaystapo. We must bend to their wants because of TOLERANCE!!!!111!!!!elebinty

jukin3 on April 22, 2014 at 4:02 PM

The vast majority of the planet believe in a Supreme Being and seek It in providing strength and wisdom, especially in decision-making that may affect others. If a militant atheist doesn’t want to hear people seeking God’s guidance and wisdom, WAIT OUTSIDE UNTIL THE PRAYER IS ENDED. That way, they can gain from God’s grace by default. Nonsensical, I’m sure, but just sayin’.

vnvet on April 22, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Good Lt, where are you?

portlandon on April 22, 2014 at 4:08 PM

What I find funny is the people who are clamoring to pray during public meetings would be the first ones outraged if the person doing the praying was a Muslim. By saying no to praying during public meetings we avoid all those minefields.

coolrepublica on April 22, 2014 at 3:43 PM

A little subconscious association there?

WryTrvllr on April 22, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Let’s not lose our heads over this minor issue.

slickwillie2001 on April 22, 2014 at 4:17 PM

What I find funny is the people who are clamoring to pray during public meetings would be the first ones outraged if the person doing the praying was a Muslim. By saying no to praying during public meetings we avoid all those minefields.

coolrepublica on April 22, 2014 at 3:43 PM

A little subconscious association there?

WryTrvllr on April 22, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Let’s not lose our heads over this minor issue.

slickwillie2001 on April 22, 2014 at 4:17 PM

You can’t spell “minefields” without “infidels.”

Missy on April 22, 2014 at 4:19 PM

People argue that the establishment/free exercise wording is effectively a “wall of separation” (as evidenced by this thread of comments). The problem is that the wall-thing is a metaphor, and is even more subject to perverse interpretation than the words actually in The Constitution.

Opening a government meeting with a prayer is clearly a free exercise. It could also arguably be the slippery slope to an establishment of religion. But it is not actually forcing views or allocating money to a particular state religion, so it is not really an establishment. In balancing these two ideas, I don’t see how any but the most hard core anti-religious nuts can be against allowing someone to speak their mind.

Fenris on April 22, 2014 at 4:01 PM

I was going to write up a long comment, but then saw yours and decided to repost it. You expressed much better than I exactly what was on my mind.

dominigan on April 22, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Yep. You gotta watch out for us Christians, coolrepublica. We might actually tell you that God loves you, or sumpin’.

kingsjester on April 22, 2014 at 4:26 PM

What I find funny is the people who are clamoring to pray during public meetings would be the first ones outraged if the person doing the praying was a Muslim. By saying no to praying during public meetings we avoid all those minefields.

coolrepublica on April 22, 2014 at 3:43 PM

I don’t see anything wrong with a Muslim praying before a meeting either. Some of us aren’t precious snowflakes that insist on being shielded from views we don’t agree with.

DisneyFan on April 22, 2014 at 4:27 PM

I love the constitution. All of it. Even the part that talks about separation of church and state, so no to that idea.
coolrepublica on April 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Yep. It’s in Article VIII, 3rd Paragraph, Clause I. Thomas Jefferson wrote it while in France.

anuts on April 22, 2014 at 4:42 PM

If a militant atheist doesn’t want to hear people seeking God’s guidance and wisdom, WAIT OUTSIDE UNTIL THE PRAYER IS ENDED. That way, they can gain from God’s grace by default. Nonsensical, I’m sure, but just sayin’.

vnvet on April 22, 2014 at 4:04 PM

No reason they should have to wait outside. It’s not a church. They could just stand around chatting or doing whatever.

DarkCurrent on April 22, 2014 at 4:50 PM

This is why we have a constitution. The will of the majority should never dictate the rights of the minority.

beverlyfreaks on April 22, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Does having a religiously diverse group of chaplains cure the Establishment Clause problem involved in starting official state business with a blessing?

Not if it actually functioned as an establishment clause.

To say otherwise illustrates an ignorance of what a religious establishment is.

Axeman on April 22, 2014 at 5:00 PM

It could also arguably be the slippery slope to an establishment of religion.

Fenris on April 22, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Which when opposed is also called “Slippery Slope Fallacy.

See fallacies are such things that they only respond to their true owners: rationalists. You can play Kick the Can and call out users of a fallacy whenever you judge that they are less than rational, by your standards–you can even post a link to Slippery Slope and point out its a fallacy. On the other side, any rational person would be able to observe that some slopes are slippery–like the ones you find slippery.
/

Axeman on April 22, 2014 at 5:06 PM

The establishment clause is only a violation if it’s legislated so through Congress. It’s pretty explicit and straightforward. Just as they cannot legislate any prohibition on the free exercise of any religion. This is precisely why 9 of the original 13 states after ratification had official religions and not a peep of complaint from any of the framers.

And yet that history and plain understanding of simple English has been warped into a prohibition of even mentioning Jesus in town meetings 200+ years later.

anuts on April 22, 2014 at 5:16 PM

Even though I’m an agnostic I fully concur with people’s right to pray anywhere, be it for Jesus, Allah, or pasta monster. However, I have a very particular problem with prayer before public meetings. When a meeting is scheduled for 7 PM and I want to see it, I’ll be bound to sit until 7:10 and listen to mumbling that doesn’t exactly warm my cockles. Nobody is going to return me these 10 minutes of my life.

Rix on April 22, 2014 at 5:20 PM

You gotta watch out for us Christians, coolrepublica. We might actually tell you that God loves you, or sumpin’.

kingsjester on April 22, 2014 at 4:26 PM

Muslims might too — here are a few prayers from the local Imam.
http://theicr.org/docs/25%20Dua's%20from%20Holy%20Qur'an.pdf

cam2 on April 22, 2014 at 5:21 PM

I’ll be bound to sit until 7:10 and listen to mumbling that doesn’t exactly warm my cockles. Nobody is going to return me these 10 minutes of my life.

Rix on April 22, 2014 at 5:20 PM

That’s true, but nobody is going to return the 2 hours of my time I wasted in a city meeting where they asked the objectors to an assessment to go first without hearing a single line of argument as to what the city alleged, and then to listen to another hour of “We’re going to do what we want to do” after the opposing side had been “closed”.

Time spent railroaded at a city meeting is never returned, either. Not a big difference. I should have been sorry for your ten minutes, if they would have said a prayer as opposed to my 2 hours of blindsiding my church with an assessment for bike paths they had no time frame of building.

Axeman on April 22, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Axeman on April 22, 2014 at 5:06 PM

You seem to provide the argument for both sides, heh. But I’ll add that while something may be a logical fallacy, people do sometimes behave irrationally.

Fenris on April 22, 2014 at 5:59 PM

Isn’t the difference in the question itself?

Allow prayer before meetings…

Require the Lord’s Prayer in schools…

I would very strongly favor a push to ALLOW prayer in schools, but would equally strongly oppose a measure to REQUIRE it.

JohnD13 on April 22, 2014 at 6:06 PM

One can’t fully appreciate this:

In Congress, July 4, 1776

… without understanding and appreciating this:

In CONGRESS,
SATURDAY, March 16, 1776.

IN times of impending calamity and distress; when the Liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive Administration, it becomes the indispensible duty of these hitherto free and happy Colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publickly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of Freedom, Virtue and Posterity.

The Congress therefore, considering the warlike preparations of the British Ministry to subvert our invaluable rights and privileges, and to reduce us by fire and sword, by the savages of the wilderness and our own domestics, to the most abject and ignominious bondage: Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees, duly impressed with a solemn sense of God’s superintending providence, and of their duty devoutly to rely in all their lawful enterprizes of his aid and direction–do earnestly recommend, that FRIDAY, the seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said Colonies as a day of HUMILIATION, FASTING, and PRAYER; that we may with united hearts confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere, repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; and by inclining their hearts to justice and benevolence, prevent the further effusion of kindred blood. But if continuing deaf to the voice of reason and humanity, and inflexibly bent on desolation and war, they constrain us to repel their hostile invasions by open resistance, that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our Officers and Soldiers with invincible fortitude to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the Continental arms by sea and land with victory and success: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil Rulers and the Representatives of the People in their several Assemblies and Conventions; to preserve and strengthen their Union, to inspire them with an ardent disinterested love of their Country; to give wisdom and stability to their Councils; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the Rights of America on the most honorable and permanent basis–that he would be graciously pleased to bless all his People in these Colonies with Health and Plenty, and grant that a spirit of incorruptible Patriotism and of pure undefiled Religion may universally prevail; and this Continent be speedily restored to the blessings of Peace and Liberty, and enabled to transmit them inviolate to the latest Posterity. And it is recommended to Christians of all denominations to assemble for Public Worship, and abstain from servile Labour on the said Day.

By Order of Congress,
JOHN HANCOCK, President

Attest………..CHARLES THOMPSON, Secretary.

Colony of the
Massachusetts-Bay.

In COUNCIL, April 3, 1776.

READ and accepted, and Ordered, That a suitable Number be printed, in order that each of the religious Assemblies, in this Colony, may be furnished with a Copy of the same.

Sent down for Concurrence………..PEREZ MORTON, Dep. Sec’ry.

In the House of REPRESENTATIVES, April 4, 1776.

Read and concurr’d………..SAMUEL FREEMAN, Speaker, pro Tem.

Consented to,

JAMES OTIS,
BENJAMIN GREENLEAF,
CALEB CUSHING,
JOHN WINTHROP,
JOHN WHETCOMB,
ELDAD TAYLOR,
MICHAEL FARLEY,
JOSEPH PALMER,
SAMUEL HOLTEN,
MOSES GILL,
JOSEPH GERRISH,
BENJAMIN LINCOLN,
CHARLES CHAUNCY,
JOHN TAYLOR,
BENJAMIN WHITE.

GOD SAVE THE PEOPLE.

Library of Congress Document Image.

Note how it ends with “GOD SAVE THE PEOPLE.”
Not “God save the King.”

Our Founders did not believe in “the divine right of Kings”.
Our Founders believed in the self-evident truth that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.

Our nation’s Founders obeyed the Biblical advice found in Second Chronicles:

if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

Less than two months before they signed the Declaration of Independence, they unified on May 17, 1776 and observed

a day of HUMILIATION, FASTING, and PRAYER; that we may with united hearts confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere, repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; and by inclining their hearts to justice and benevolence, prevent the further effusion of kindred blood. But if continuing deaf to the voice of reason and humanity, and inflexibly bent on desolation and war, they constrain us to repel their hostile invasions by open resistance, that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our Officers and Soldiers with invincible fortitude to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the Continental arms by sea and land with victory and success: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil Rulers and the Representatives of the People in their several Assemblies and Conventions; to preserve and strengthen their Union, to inspire them with an ardent disinterested love of their Country; to give wisdom and stability to their Councils; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the Rights of America on the most honorable and permanent basis…

Their prayers were answered.

ITguy on April 22, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Muslims might too — here are a few prayers from the local Imam.
http://theicr.org/docs/25%20Dua's%20from%20Holy%20Qur'an.pdf

cam2 on April 22, 2014 at 5:21 PM

That almost looks Abrahamic, infidel

DarkCurrent on April 22, 2014 at 6:17 PM

Prayer before public meetings is a great thing!

Someone has to help these meetings along because, Lord knows, the participants aren’t going to.

ajacksonian on April 22, 2014 at 7:10 PM

Just saw Heaven is for Real. Good movie and well-recommended.

John the Libertarian on April 22, 2014 at 7:29 PM

Prayer before meeting does not constitute an establishment of religion. If people want prayers they should have it, except for wiccans – they should be burned at the stake.

earlgrey on April 22, 2014 at 8:02 PM

Since the pols show majority support the ruling will be against.

docflash on April 22, 2014 at 3:35 PM

…that seems to be the trend in the last decade…that’s why who gets in the courts is so important.

KOOLAID2 on April 22, 2014 at 9:04 PM

Prayer before meeting does not constitute an establishment of religion. If people want prayers they should have it, except for wiccans – they should be burned at the stake.

earlgrey on April 22, 2014 at 8:02 PM

In the revolving selection of religions to lead the prayers, I assume they will include a day when an atheist can come in and preach atheism.

slickwillie2001 on April 22, 2014 at 9:34 PM

Just saw Heaven is for Real. Good movie and well-recommended.

John the Libertarian on April 22, 2014 at 7:29 PM

Just saw a cat drop a turd in the litterbox. Good bowel movement and well-recommended.

thejackal on April 22, 2014 at 10:54 PM

Question for the Court: Does having a religiously diverse group of chaplains cure the Establishment Clause problem involved in starting official state business with a blessing? Or is any blessing ordered by government unconstitutional no matter who’s delivering it?

The same rules any competent lawyer would use to establish a case will answer this question beyond a reasonable doubt. The men who wrote the Constitution constantly appealed to God for His blessing. Then they wrote the First Amendment, ensuring that the government would not construct a state religion and attempt to force a particular belief (and the corrupt mechanisms which always follow) upon the citizenry.

They had no intention of preventing the exercise of religious belief in the public square; they were working to protect and promote that very thing, and guaranteeing the individual’s ability to do so in the manner of his choosing. Any suggestion that references to God in connection with the body politic are automatically un-Constitutional is Q.E.D. erroneous.

That’s it.

Freelancer on April 23, 2014 at 3:14 AM

Freelancer on April 23, 2014 at 3:14 AM

Very well said, and very true.

Congress is prohibited from establishing (creating/owning/operating) a religion.

Citizens, including public sector employees, are not prohibited from expressing or endorsing their religion, even when they are performing their jobs.

Endorsing a restaurant is a completely separate thing from establishing a restaurant.

Endorsing a religion is a completely separate thing from establishing a religion.

Congress is prohibited from establishment. No one is prohibited from endorsement, and in fact, the 1st amendment is intended to protect your right to free exercise of religion, including your endorsement of that religion.

ITguy on April 23, 2014 at 10:24 AM