My Turn: Let's not lose our heads over prayer issue

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 25, 2012

As the fascinating, grueling saga of sectarian prayers prior to county commission meetings rages on, it would appear that this will ultimately become an issue upon which opponents will have to agree to disagree. Many citizens have weighed in, and several valid points for each side have been posited. In my humble opinion both sides are right, both sides are wrong, but by different degrees.
First, the ACLU. The mere mention of the ACLU typically has me checking the bottoms of my shoes. The ACLU has become an organization much like the NAACP, NOW, GLAAD, Greenpeace and labor unions, desperate to remain relevant and financially profitable by perpetuating perceived wrongs that need to be righted. They rely upon the heavy lifting done by their predecessors to keep them in business so they do not have to re-enter the real world.
This exploitation of chronic discontent helps the attorneys more than it helps any aggrieved segment of society. The glut of attorneys in our society has resulted in a need for lawyer gigs, not to be confused with flounder gigs (hmm, then again …). So, outfits like the ACLU ride in and notify the villagers that they have come to slay their dragons.
Villagers: “Thank you, but we have no dragons.”
ACLU: “That’s okay, we brought some just in case.”
One of the attorneys for the ACLU, in a recent piece that appeared in the Post, made a bizarre attempt to either validate or legitimatize their existence and usefulness by declaring that they did not only represent left-wing causes, but right-wing skin-head types as well. Really? Well, then, I suppose that makes them a worthwhile bunch after all. I don’t know that I would want that on my resume, but then I am not as smart as the attorneys for the ACLU. So, simply because they are the ACLU, they are almost always wrong. When they do find themselves on the right side of an issue, it is quite by accident, much like the proverbial blind squirrel. Of course, in the case of the ACLU, the nuts find them.
The commissioners who insist on using the words “in Jesus’ name” in defiant protest are bull-headed, handling the issue ham-handedly, completely lacking the tact and diplomacy one might expect from competent elected officials. Yes, we live in the Bible Belt, and anyone who is annoyed or offended is free to relocate to a less pious part of the country. The power that comes from majority status carries with it a level of responsibility. We need not kowtow to the liberals, but it’s okay to acknowledge that Catholics and Jews are part of the county population. The commissioners are either ignorant to their own insensitivity or intentionally seek to flaunt their power. Either way, they are wrong. Most of the folks who claim to be annoyed or offended are wrong. If they are going to invoke the Constitution for this debate, then we need to prosecute those who drive 72 mph in a 65 mph zone. It is a letter-of-the-law versus spirit-of-the-law distinction.
The player in this debate who is closest to being right is Fourth Circuit Judge Paul Niemeyer. He correctly states that the Constitution does not protect anyone from being offended or annoyed. As a grumpy old curmudgeon, almost everything offends me. I do not seek new laws or restrictions.
One solution might take the form of a unilateral gesture of religious tolerance aimed at those who purport to be our enemies. Public beheadings at the next meeting would show the rest of the world that we are finally willing to embrace the cultural diversity about which we have been nagged for years. Those who doth protest too much will be relieved of the burden of wrong-thinking heads. We gain points for religious tolerance, cultural diversity, and we silence our critics. Everybody wins, excerpt, of course, the dismembered troublemakers. Still, in any paradigm shift or cultural revolution there will be casualties.
If this strategy seems a bit on the harsh side of barbaric, I offer an alternative. Open each meeting with The Lord’s Prayer, a beautiful, trans-denominational prayer. Anyone who finds The Lord’s Prayer offensive is just being difficult, or is itching for a fight. If this simple, elegant prayer is not sectarian enough for some of the Bible-thumping evangelicals, or too sectarian for anyone else, they should be treated as statistical outliers and disregarded. Moreover, if their annoying and offensive protestations should become too vociferous, I would not take beheadings off the table.
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Bruce La Rue lives in Mt. Ulla.