From the Religion Clause blog Wednesday, two evocative items.
Miami-Dade Commission Re-institutes Opening Prayer
In Florida yesterday, the Miami-Dade County Commission voted 8-3 to re-institute prayer before the opening of the Commission’s formal meetings. The Miami Herald reports that the vote comes after an intensive 18-month lobbying effort by the Christian Family Coalition to bring back prayers instead of the moment of silence that replaced the invocation in 2004. Commissioners will rotate in choosing someone to lead the prayer, or lead it themselves. The invocation must be non-denominational, and will be offered before the roll call of commissioners. During debate on the bill, the commissioners agreed to the rotation format, instead of having the county clerk compile a database of local religious leaders to choose from which would have cost $26,000 to implement. The ACLU said that if the prayers turn out to be sectarian, it will file suit. However, Anthony Verdugo, executive director of the Christian Family Coalition, said the vote ended “8½ years of discrimination.”
Indiana Legislator Wants To Require Science Teachers To Prove Truth of Their Teachings
In Indiana, state senator Dennis Kruse, chairman of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee, says he will try a new approach now that he failed last session to get legislation to allow the teaching of creationism along with evolution in the public schools. According to the Indianapolis Star yesterday, Kruse will introduce what he calls a “truth in education” bill. As the senator describes the proposal: “If a student thinks something isn’t true, then they can question the teacher and the teacher would have to come up with some kind of research to support that what they are teaching is true or not true.”
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First, what, pray tell, is a “nondenominational,” or in ACLU terms, “nonsectarian,” prayer?
This is not a rhetorical question. I’ve been asking for more than 40 years what possible good it does for public meetings or school classrooms to throw some fatuous little unitarian ditty at the ceiling that offends the Unitarians (because it’s uttered in public), amuses the Trinitarians (because it’s not “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”), ought to offend the Evangelicals who presumably are so desperately seeking it (because it’s not closed “in Jesus’ name”) and presumably offends every other real religion that has a characteristic or prescribed idea of authentic prayer?
Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.
(Ernest Hemingway) Or maybe this:
To whom it may concern:
Some of us down here think there is a “whom” that this ritual “may concern,” and who would be offended by mere silence. If so, we (and I think I’m speaking now even for the ones who think there is no whom that this may concern) would really appreciate it if you’d keep us from tearing each other’s throats out over things like religion, and also help us to be good, compliant consumers, producers and above all borrowers, so that this house of cards we’re pretending not to notice won’t collapse until we’re dead and buried and it falls on our posterity (and the posterity of the undocumented workers who are keeping Social Security afloat) instead. Amen.
Does anybody think that God is pleased by that sort of thing?
And who, other than the ever-vigilant ACLU, judges foot-faults on the sufficient neutrality (i.e., fatuousness) of the prayers? The government? Really? Caesar deciding what prayer is inoffensive enough to be permissible?
Second, does Senator Kruse really want a bunch of smart-ass adolescents disrupting class with imperious questions that probably have been answered already multiple times that semester? Or is he trying to give Creationist kids a nuclear option, scaring teachers out of mentioning evolution and Darwin by the knowledge that they’ll be besieged with harassing questions if they do, on pain of punishment for not citing “research” quickly enough?
I see a connection between those two examples: insincerity. That’s another word for “bearing false witness.” That’s supposed to be a no-no.
Yes, I’m saying that the Christian Family Coalition and Senator Kruse are being disingenuous about their objectives. The former does not want fatuous unitarian ditties. The latter does not want better citation of research in support of evolution. Besides abasing themselves, they bring disrepute to their putative Lord.
Or I could be wrong. They could be delusional, unaware of the obvious nonsense-on-stiltsiness of such proposals. (Some Krustians consider it a victory to get a creche on the courthouse square because, the court reasons, it’s devoid of religious significance, having become effectively secular. You like the taste of that sawdust, boys?)
Or I could be an obnoxious old curmudgeon – instead of, or in addition to, the preceding two options.
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