Letters to the editor - Monday (3-25-2013)
Appeals Court decision lays out prayer parameters
I have read the most recent reports concerning the County Commission’s vow to spend lots of other people’s money in order to continue prayers “in Jesus’ name” at county commission meetings, in spite of an ACLU lawsuit based upon Joyner v. Forsyth County. I advise people to actually read the decision of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Readers may find it here: http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinions/Published/101232.P.pdf
After reading the decision, I conclude that the second highest court in our land does not bar prayer during a public invocation, but merely bans those prayers that promote one particular faith or belief over any others. Non-sectarian prayers to God, since Judaism, Islam and Christianity all spring from Abraham’s little tribe, appear to pass muster.
Personal problems arise for Christian political leaders, as most of us are taught that denying Christ or failing to “stand up for Jesus” risks our own personal salvation. This is a serious personal matter and those persons who disparage them for this are practicing their own brand of religious intolerance.
Litigation will likely be an exercise in futility, as the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of Joyner v. Forsyth, which is a clear indication that they do not disagree with the lower court’s opinion. I have also read that one or more commissioners indicate that they will obey any injunction handed down. I question the logic behind spending large sums of other people’s money to fight if you are going to “fold” anyway.
This is a great little business venture. The ACLU finds a government entity run by conservative Christians and Republicans, sends out a letter, lets the leaders posture for their electorate, and, as in Joyner, collects a quarter of a million dollars in legal fees for its attorneys.
I suggest dispensing with an invocation and a holding a prayer meeting on the steps 15 minutes before the building is open to ask for guidance and invoking the name of Jesus Christ. If the prayer is really about asking for guidance and a blessing over the work therein, this should suffice. If done before the meeting, before the doors are opened, earnest and genuine, it should pass muster with both our Lord and Savior and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
— Todd Paris
A history of faith
If all the time spent arguing about how to pray in a “free” country was spent in actual prayer, we’d all be happier, healthier and wiser.
Bringing faith into the political realm is not radical when considering the history of the United States. This nation’s founders were unanimous about religious freedom and the right to express that freedom. There is no record in the founding of our nation of any hesitance of bringing the specific name of Jesus Christ and His Gospel to the public square.
In the first prayer of the Sept. 7, 1774, Continental Congress, Rev. Jacob Duche ended his prayer with “All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.” He was not sued, tarred and feathered for doing so.
— Marie Howell
Another way to pray
I would like to add my voice to M.T. Sidoli’s “There’s a simple solution” letter (March 21). There are better ways to solve this problem than going to court.
First, commissioners could pray individually or as a group prior to the official meeting. Optionally, they could invite a clergy person to pray with them and/or they could invite like-minded others to join them in prayer. I would think this should satisfy both those who want to pray and those who don’t. This would be best accomplished in a separate room, but I suppose the meeting room could be used as long as everyone was advised of this procedure.
Second, this would avoid the expense associated with a court case, and those individuals and churches who have volunteered to donate funds for legal fees could instead donate those funds to charitable organizations in our county such as Rowan Helping Ministries or the Pregnancy Support Center. I don’t understand why this wouldn’t satisfy everyone’s needs, especially the needs of those who could make better use of the promised legal fee donations.
— Roger Hull
Solutions not always easy
I would very much like for M.T. Sidoli to give me the North Carolina or federal statute that you were referring to when you said the law says for us to pray on our own time and not the government’s.
In the off chance that you cannot find such a law, then I feel that you owe an apology to me and others that pray anywhere we feel like it is appropriate. The word of the living God tells me to pray without ceasing. By the way, that’s found in the Bible in First Thessalonians, Chapter Five, Verse 17. I can be reached at 704-630-9315 for the statute or the apology.
— Terry Denton
Advice for the ACLU
I have a suggestion for the ACLU. Re-file your suit and charge individuals who defy the law instead of the commissioners as a whole. Individuals certainly have the right to pray as they wish, just not as government officials in a public meeting. The commission is not defying the law — just certain individuals. This can be shown as evidenced by the fact that Raymond Coltrain did open the commission meeting without defying the law.
Re-filing would solve several problems. First, there would be no legal fees incurred by the commission. Second, there would not be great amounts of time wasted in public meetings. Third, we would see how dedicated the individual commissioners are to the cause, as they would be incurring the legal fees as individuals and not using our tax money. Mr. Sides said he would go to jail if needed if other commissioners would bail him out. If the case were changed, other individuals could just bail him out.
There would be no hiding out behind the Rowan County government. Let’s return to the governing of this county in a more responsible manner.
And since we have a Sunshine-type government I propose a financial report being given every commission meeting as to the amount of tax money spent since February of last year when the commission was warned. And remember that when the case is lost we may have to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees as they did in Forsyth County.
— Ralph Walton
Prayer can only help
In 1963, official Bible reading was ended in the United States by a lawsuit initiated by Madalyn Murray O’Hair( Murray v. Curlett). Have our public schools gotten better or worse? In 1973, the U.S .Supreme Court decided that murder of unborn children was legal in Roe v. Wade. How many children have been murdered? Now people who are living in a Christian nation and enjoying all the benefits of the United States want to remove prayer from public forums. Our country needs prayer. Look at the unemployment, crime and foreclosures. Only God can help us. God bless our country and citizens, and commissioners, keep on praying.
— Elizabeth Cornatzer
Anything that can improve South Main Street should be welcomed with open arms. The “gridlock” that has prevented the city from growing has put many merchants either out of business or on the brink during this prolonged economic downturn that every city, state and town in America has experienced over the last four or five years. Once a city cannibalizes its own businesses, then there is little future except bankruptcy in its future. A strong and thoughtful business person recognizes that growth of new business is paramount to their own business growth.
There are countless examples of a city controlled by a few people who cannibalize their own cities’ businesses that eventually end up with nothing and leave nothing except the memory of their tyranny. Take a good look at Ralph Ketner. This man has done more for this city and been more generous to its citizens than any other … yet there is still not a single place in this city that says: “Thank you, Mr. Ketner.” His generosity made this town a great place to live, work and grow a family. Although I was not here during those years, I can still see clearly the benefits he has brought to this town.
I may not know you, Mr. Ketner, but I know you through your work. Salisbury owes you a great debt of gratitude, and I for one thank you for your contributions.
— Jo-Jo Rust