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Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:33 PM

Cities, school boards bow to Freedom From Religion on prayers

http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/cities-school-boards-bow-to-freedom-from-religion-on-prayers/article_4e2bc8ff-924e-562d-a02a-55cc3f8ead9d.html

3 hours ago Aaron Orlowski Journal staff(0) Comments

The last thing Kathy Smith and the Pellston School Board wanted to do was give up prayer before board meetings.

The board for the 600-student school district in northern Michigan had regularly prayed before meetings for years, just like the Rapid City Council does now.

Officials in Pellston started receiving letters from the national Freedom From Religion Foundation asking them to end prayers. Initially, the school board didn't respond, but the letters grew progressively more aggressive until a lawsuit seemed probable.

In September 2012, the Pellston board gave up and ended the prayers, following the lead of many other city, school district and county boards that have given in to pressure from the well-organized and litigious Freedom From Religion Foundation.

more at link

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Reply Cities, school boards bow to Freedom From Religion on prayers (Original post)
cbayer Feb 2013 OP
northoftheborder Feb 2013 #1
cbayer Feb 2013 #2
CreekDog Feb 2013 #19
cbayer Feb 2013 #20
Adsos Letter Feb 2013 #32
JDPriestly Feb 2013 #3
cbayer Feb 2013 #5
JDPriestly Feb 2013 #33
JimDandy Feb 2013 #7
JimDandy Feb 2013 #4
northoftheborder Feb 2013 #6
JimDandy Feb 2013 #8
longship Feb 2013 #9
cbayer Feb 2013 #10
longship Feb 2013 #11
cbayer Feb 2013 #12
longship Feb 2013 #13
quaker bill Feb 2013 #14
cbayer Feb 2013 #16
quaker bill Feb 2013 #24
cbayer Feb 2013 #25
quaker bill Feb 2013 #28
cbayer Feb 2013 #29
Adsos Letter Feb 2013 #31
Tagish_Charlie Feb 2013 #15
cbayer Feb 2013 #17
freshwest Feb 2013 #18
cbayer Feb 2013 #21
freshwest Feb 2013 #22
cbayer Feb 2013 #23
freshwest Feb 2013 #26
cleanhippie Feb 2013 #27
MotherPetrie Feb 2013 #30

Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:36 PM

1. This is good news - from a believer in God, and a believer in separation of church & state.

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Response to northoftheborder (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:39 PM

2. Agree. I think they are having a positive impact.

I particularly like that they are going to try to get a lot of what they do shifted to the local communities. This could potentially create some real win/win situations.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #2)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:05 PM

19. Having lived in a community where my religion was the minority in almost a theocracy...

government bodies with prayer are a bad idea.

and for those whose own religious beliefs don't permit them to participate in a prayer by the majority religion --others will notice that they are not praying, and they will be harassed or ostracized for it.

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Response to CreekDog (Reply #19)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:12 PM

20. I agree with you. To be clear, I don't think there should be any prayers

at meetings of government bodies.

I'm ok with a moment of silence or reflection, but that's about it.

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Response to northoftheborder (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:24 AM

32. And from a Christian, and a believer in Church/State separation

I agree with you.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:51 PM

3. Sooner or later, a board will take this to the courts -- and just may win the right to have

prayers depending on state law.

There is a long tradition in the US of having prayer at the beginning of legislative meetings.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #3)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 01:05 PM

5. The supreme court has already ruled on this.

It's the sectarian nature of the prayer that is the problem. A moment of silence or having rotating "celebrants" from a variety of religious traditions is ok. It's the one that have exclusively christian prayers that are being challenged.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 02:47 AM

33. I agree.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #3)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 01:13 PM

7. They would lose. The U.S. Constitution is very

clear on the Freedom From Religion clause. As more and more of us fight back against these boards and their members who are violating the law they swore to uphold, the victories are INCREASING!

Doing illegal shit for a long time doesn't make it a tradition - it make's it a crime of long standing involving many criminals and officers of the law looking the other way.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:53 PM

4. Thank reality for the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

for stopping government entities from forcing religion on us in violation of the constitution.

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Response to JimDandy (Reply #4)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 01:05 PM

6. Yes, and there are other organizations dedicated to this effort.

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Response to northoftheborder (Reply #6)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 01:17 PM

8. I and surely millions of other Americans

are grateful to all of them!

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 02:00 PM

9. Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor



The co-presidents of FFRF. They are the real deal. I love these guys.

The reason why these government bodies are caving on these prayers is that case law is clear that these prayers are in violation of the US Constitution.

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Response to longship (Reply #9)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 02:04 PM

10. I think their organization is maturing in a very good way.

Trying to shift the focus from them (the big, bad group from another part of the country) to local citizens challenging local practices is a very smart move, imo.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 02:13 PM

11. AFAIK, that's the way they've always done it.

In order to have legal standing and therefore any chance to influence these boards, FFRF must act in the interest of a member in the district.

AFAIK, that's how they've always done it.

The news media nearly always reports it as "an out of state organization is telling our school board they can't pray" or some such thing. This is wrong! FFRF find out about these violations by their members alerting them and then act on the members' behalf.

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Response to longship (Reply #11)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 02:16 PM

12. The initial letters apparently have come from them.

What it looks like they are going to do is assist locals in bringing concerns to various local bodies where there appears to be a problem. And, IIRC, they have sought out some situations where there hasn't been a local complaint and that's been problematic.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #12)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 02:21 PM

13. Well, either way, it's good.

I have listened to FFRF podcast for years. They talk about these cases weekly. Annie Laurie is not the best broadcaster, but she's getting much better. Dan's a musician, so he supplies piano interludes between the stories. It's not too bad these days.

Freethought Radio

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 02:29 PM

14. We were invited to "invoke" a commission meeting

which was curious because Quakers generally don't invoke things, we are not much taken with intercession.

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Response to quaker bill (Reply #14)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 02:35 PM

16. Well, at least they asked.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:32 PM

24. We went and invoked peace and harmony, or something of the sort.

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Response to quaker bill (Reply #24)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:35 PM

25. Sounds good to me. Don't see how peace and harmony could lead to any objections.

I have mixed feelings about bodies that have taken the route of diversity. While it is certainly preferable to have a purely sectarian tradition, I think it's still a 1st amendment violation (the Supreme Court disagrees with me, though).

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Response to cbayer (Reply #25)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:48 PM

28. We got invited in because of the silent peace vigil

we were holding on City Hall steps weekly (over the invasion of Iraq).

We did it twice and were never asked back again.

Personally, I don't care for religious invocations at secular events, football games, council meetings, or whatever. It might be different if they paid any attention to the words and attempted to be fair and do justice. Usually truth, fairness, and justice do not follow, so the whole thing is rather pointless.

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Response to quaker bill (Reply #28)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:55 PM

29. Agree that it is generally pointless.

I also find the presentation of the flag, usually done by a local ROTC unit, pointless at some of these events. It just feels like propaganda to me.

Good for you on your vigils. My father's community has done this as well.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #25)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:21 AM

31. "I have mixed feelings about bodies that have taken the route of diversity."

I agree with you on this. To my mind it still opens up avenues of abuse. Which groups get called upon, and which don't? Why should anyone have to sit through any invocation of any kind?

Moment of silence is as far as I would like to see it go.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 02:35 PM

15. If memory serves me

 

didn't Jesus say something like "when you pray, pray in secret, for my father knows what is in your heart" ?

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Response to Tagish_Charlie (Reply #15)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 02:38 PM

17. Matthew 6:6

New International Version (1984)
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.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:03 PM

18. This was dealt with many years ago when I was in elementary school in the early sixties.

Last edited Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:47 PM - Edit history (1)

No one, not churches, schools, parents or anyone made a big deal about it.

We stood as a girl played piano with a standard hymn, tthe prayer was said and we either closed our eyes or didn't, not a big deal or enforced.

She then played America the Beautiful to which we all sang along quite badly. Off key, words mixed up, etc. Then we said the Pledge of Allegiance and that was it.

The only change was we had a 'Moment of Silence' which was carried on just like the prayer with no words said with some of us with our eyes closed and the rest sneaking a peek. Then the unfortunately mangled anthem and pledge.

We had the pagan May Day celebration, Halloween mixed in with a harvest theme festivals bobbing for apples, fortune telling and carving pumpkins. There were the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks with a tree and gifts exchanged before the break and Easter breaks with us going home and hunting eggs and hoping for chocolate Easter bunnies, the bigger the better.

Now these are called by other names, but no one discussed Jesus, God, or anything like that. Any excuse to party or dress up. We had Jewish students who played along that I knew, but they always told us that their holiday was better as they got gifts for more days. We had atheists who still liked to get their gifts and play along, too. It wasn't about religion, it was a holiday.

No one was playing thought police. There was no attempt at conformity other than standing up, not that we wanted to sit all day long, anyway. I remember visiting one kid's house after school. His mom and dad walked naked inside their house, we just rolled our eyes, went out to play in they yard and didn't talk about it - what's private is private.

This wackjob religion stuff was a RW con job that never had any legal basis in our secular society. Just playing the victim. It's all GOP gaming and a load of twaddle that should have never been allowed to see the light of day. I'm really sad for those kids who are growing up in areas without good progressive public schools.

As a kid, religion was for home only. Not at school at all and no one made a big deal about believing or not believing. Even at church, no one was questioned about the details and one made a decision or not. It was another social event, not this dig into your soul kind of thing that affects every area of one's life. I've had my ups and downs on the various levels of religious fervor, but realized it was all manipulation - but I didn't grow up in it.

We were taught evolution in those days in the elementary schools, this is the 1950s and early 1960s I'm talking about in the South, FFS. Those days we got off were just holidays - we knew it was a game. Those who wanted to take it seriously could do that at their house or church.

All this outrage about the war on Xmas and saying Merry Christmas for a pagan holiday and objecting to Happy Holidays and such crap is just RW political division. I hope we can get past this and really applaud that this group is not arguing against relgion per se, but putting this in the perspective that is the most important. What we must maintain is the separation of church and state. Which is what I grew up and am better for it.

Okay, happy Sunday morning to all and

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Response to freshwest (Reply #18)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:15 PM

21. Great sermon, freshwest!

Your story mirrors my own to a large extent, even though I was raised by a minister and the church was a pretty central part of our lives.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #21)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:25 PM

22. Hi! I'm sure, too, that you weren't brought up to fear, condemn or shun non-believers. Because...

Christianity, other beliefs, or not believing is a freedom of the mind - the heart - and thus being free, must be allowed to find its own way.

There are rituals in many things providing a loom within which people weave certain moments in their lives - customs, traditions, superstitions or whatever. Live and let live, no one person knows all the answers and there need to be boundaries between people as a matter of respect.

Coercion doesn't change what a person feels or believes, doesn't last. Give and take is how it should be. Most religious people I knew weren't the gossipy, into everyone else's business types. Your mind, your life, is yours, not anyone else's.

We knew, for example, that we had gay and lesbian people in school and no one cared, it was all just part of the diversity of life that you didn't intrude or harrass, and that was long before the word 'diversity' was used.

This dreadful desire to make people conform, to believe or not believe, to be one thing or another - I find repugnant and unAmerican.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #22)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:29 PM

23. The message in my family was that people had different belief or non-belief systems and

they were all ok as long as they weren't being used to harm or restrict the rights of others.

I agree with your thoughts on people that want to make you conform to their way of seeing things - be it believers or non-believers.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #23)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:37 PM

26. +1 to all of that. Same here, although no ministers in the family.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #23)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:41 PM

27. Well, except when it isn't the message in your family.

Does anyone in your family saying something along the lines of "who would want to live in a world without solid religious ethics" ring a bell?

No? Here, let me help you out....


That was your FATHER, Charles. Remember now?

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Response to freshwest (Reply #18)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 04:20 PM

30. Am confused by your post. Did your school day start with a prayer?

 

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