Atheist Group Wants Lawmakers To Stop...

Atheist Group Wants Lawmakers To Stop Praying Before Session

There are 54 comments on the WHOtv story from Jan 11, 2010, titled Atheist Group Wants Lawmakers To Stop Praying Before Session. In it, WHOtv reports that:

Today's legislative session began like most sessions; with a prayer. But the group "Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers" wants to put an end to the practice by sending lawmakers an e-mail demanding the prayers stop.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at WHOtv.

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Tammy Smith

Huntsville, AL

#1 Jan 11, 2010
I cannot believe that a prayer "hurts" anyone. We have listened to these "free thinkers" before and that started a ball rolling out of control that has culminated in no prayer in schools, even though every other religion in the world has no censure. It also has kept the pledge of allegiance out of the schools, and helped to make this once great country so much less than it has been or could be. I am so very sick of everyone whining about their rights being violated or their feelings being hurt. What about the people who would like to see our children sing Christmas carols again in Christmas programs. What about the majority of this country who wants to keep "In God We Trust"on our money. Our forefathers came to this land for, among other things, freedom of religion. Today, that means freedom of any religion EXCEPT Christianity. What are people afraid of. Fear what will happen to this country if they are successful in banning prayer in any public place. Fear that....I do.
Darlene

Ankeny, IA

#2 Jan 11, 2010
Channel 13 ought to be embarrassed by such a biased report. That interview was heavily edited, and the opposing argument was composed of flat-out lies.
1) Our main argument, which I'm sure Randy stated, but Channel 13 in its biased wisdom decided to cut, is that the chamber doors ARE locked before the prayers start, and everyone who works there IS forced to attend the prayer beginning every session. The prayers are NOT "before" the sessions as Channel 13 and the legislators it has decided to promote stated.

2) The prayers ARE divisively sectarian and they DO promote one religion over all others. They say "God", which is Christian, and that's ALL it is.

3) Not only do they pray on our time, they pay clergy on our dime.

4) Regardless of what the misguided legislator (who inexplicably was given a Channel 13 soapbox and was conspicuously NOT grilled by a reporter who forgot he was supposed to be unbiased when he was grilling Randy with incorrect Constitution quotes)who said "We are just going to keep doing this regardless of what anyone thinks..." the legislators work for US, and a big part of their job is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.
Stand up for yourselves, people. The most Christian among are NOT going to like it when you think you've got your wish and one religion takes over government.
Paige

Decorah, IA

#3 Jan 12, 2010
Argh. Prayer before legislation is wrong. I mean it might take the pompous fools down a notch if they are humbled by the thought that the sky fairy may put his foot down if they are bad, but it also takes them to a point, prior to debate, of thinking that we all think like them and that god rules everything. All that forgiveness of sins should not apply to politicians. They ought to be thinking about doing the next right thing, not the next thing willed by a deity.
dave

Dubuque, IA

#4 Jan 12, 2010
tell the atheists to quit believing so hard that they're atheists
Nancy Porter

Johnston, IA

#5 Jan 12, 2010
The created wants to get rid of the Creator. When we reject our Creator, it is the downfall of our nation. We are definitely going the wrong direction here. Wake up and look up! Fear (respect) and honor the God who knows everything about you for He made you.
r-c-Young

Des Moines, IA

#6 Jan 12, 2010
The prayer should be said and for those that do not believe do not need to listen or even be in the session chambers. This country was founded on prayer and needs to stay that way. It offends me that they want us to stop praying just because they do not like it.
FREETHOUGHT

Littleton, CO

#7 Jan 12, 2010
r-c-Young wrote:
The prayer should be said and for those that do not believe do not need to listen or even be in the session chambers. This country was founded on prayer and needs to stay that way. It offends me that they want us to stop praying just because they do not like it.
:"[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom... was finally passed,... a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination." --Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821.
I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of... Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."- Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason, 1794-1795.)
"As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." -(Treaty of Tripoli, 1797 - signed by President John Adams.)
FREETHOUGHT

Littleton, CO

#8 Jan 12, 2010
I feel relieved to know that when these cases come before trial the law stands behind seperation of church and state. The system is working.
Margaret Lee

Des Moines, IA

#9 Jan 12, 2010
I think it's time we started listening to the majority and stopped trying to be politically correct in everything that comes up. What does the Constitution ACTUALLY say and in what context? And, from all I've heard from people who have studied and read the Constitution, separation of Church and State is not what the "non believers" what it to say. The minority do not have to pray or even listen, but have they read or studied the bible either to know what they are arguing over???? If there is no God, what makes them so uncomfortable???!!!
FREETHOUGHT

Littleton, CO

#10 Jan 12, 2010
Margaret Lee wrote:
I think it's time we started listening to the majority and stopped trying to be politically correct in everything that comes up. What does the Constitution ACTUALLY say and in what context? And, from all I've heard from people who have studied and read the Constitution, separation of Church and State is not what the "non believers" what it to say. The minority do not have to pray or even listen, but have they read or studied the bible either to know what they are arguing over???? If there is no God, what makes them so uncomfortable???!!!
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"

Nuff Sed?

"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." - Susan B. Anthony
joni

West Des Moines, IA

#11 Jan 12, 2010
You think ypur feelings are hurt now, wait until your atheist, agnostic of secular humanist self dies. I feel sorry for you but not enough to change my right to pray when ever I want and where ever I want to. Regarding the quote from Kent Sorenson "then aren't they imposing their beliefs on me by asking for this?" Amen Kent, Amen.
Non-believer

Des Moines, IA

#12 Jan 12, 2010
What I think is really sad about these comments is that the people who are angry over the story appear to have not even read it in its entirety. There is no request to abolish prayer - the request is to conduct it before the official start of business so that those whose jobs require them to be present once the day's session starts, and anyone else for that matter, can either choose to participate or not. Forced ideology is not a very American idea, is it? And by the way, atheists are not forcing their atheist views on you when they ask for prayer to be voluntary. No one is harmed if the prayer takes place as a non-government activity rather than a government-endorsed and paid activity, and no one is prevented from praying.
TWJ

Elizabeth, NJ

#13 Jan 12, 2010
America was NOT founded on Christianity! America was founded on freedom of BELIEF and SPEECH - whether belief in theism or atheism or agnosticism, monotheism or polytheism or naturalism.

The Constitution of the USA intentionally makes absolutely NO mention of gods or goddesses (whether one or many), and expressly states that there is to be be NO government establishment of ANY religion.

To those religionists who advocate violating the Constitution anyway, I propose that the legislative invocations alternate equally between a Christian (or other religion) and an Atheist (who will be free to say that We acknowledge Nature as the highest force in the universe and that all gods are false gods -- and if Christians do not agree they are free to not attend or to not listen).

Atheists and agnostics support the free belief and speech of religion and mythology -- in the appropriate PRIVATE realms of Home and Church -- but NOT in the public realm of Government (which is supposed to represent ALL citizens EQUALLY.

Finally, the majority opinion is NOT always right and CAN be justifiably disallowed! Let us remember that the Founding Fathers either actively participated in, condoned ,or consented to SLAVERY in America and in the Constitution. Do the Christian advocates of public religious prayer also support slavery as allowed by the Founding Fathers ???
Connie Urbandale

Johnston, IA

#14 Jan 12, 2010
I am tired of every minority trying to impose what they believe on everyone else. They have their believes and I have mine. You leave me alone I will leave you alone.
WDMJoHo

West Des Moines, IA

#15 Jan 12, 2010
We all have things about our jobs that gripe us.... If a non-believer has to listen to a short prayer to start a government activity or any other activity for that matter, so what ? You're out-numbered and in the grand scheme of your existence, does it really matter ? Who will you call out to with your last breath ? This isn't just about prayer...Agree to disagree..
Abzelilla

United States

#16 Jan 12, 2010
r-c-Young wrote:
The prayer should be said and for those that do not believe do not need to listen or even be in the session chambers. This country was founded on prayer and needs to stay that way. It offends me that they want us to stop praying just because they do not like it.
If the legislators want to pray at home or even in the Capitol before the daily session officially starts, that's not something any atheist would object to. The point is that the prayer is officially the part of the daily session, and no, once it starts, you cannot get out (the doors are closed!). The representative shown on Channel 13 was either completely clueless (at best) or was blatantly lying (at worst). There are MINORS in the chambers, for crying out loud, there are pages, and clerks, and visitors, and not a single one of them (save the visitors who are fast runners) has an option to skip the prayer, because many of them need to stay in the chambers to do their work. If that is not imposing one's religion over the minority, I don't know what is. As Darlene above mentioned, Channel 13's fact-checking processes do indeed leave much to be desired in this particular news report, or, perhaps, you folks were just hoping to get a sensationalist story by omitting many important and relevant facts? Kudos then.

That's not all, though. Channel 13 mentioned that the prayers simply refer to some generic god, which could easily be applicable to any faith. This is neither true nor correct. Invoking a "god" by definition excludes the citizens who do not believe in one (and that includes some religious citizens, like Buddhists). And as if it wasn't bad enough as it is, the prayers often invoke the name of "Jesus Christ", which blows the whole "generic faith" argument right out of the water. In all fairness, not every prayer at the legislature mentions Jesus, but quite a few do, and that's excluding even more citizens. Some government, eh?

The supporters of the state-endorsed prayer simply don't get it--the establishment clause is there to protect them just as much as it is there to protect us secular folks. There is nothing more frightening than a state that establishes a state religion (a quick look at Iran or areas under Taliban control illustrates it best). If you are a Roman Catholic, for example, you might not mind your elected representatives to be Protestant, Mormon, Buddhist, or whatever, but you will most certainly mind if they start using government resources to diminish your catholic faith and to promote the views of their own sect, wouldn't you? Do you think Iowa Jewish citizens would enjoy a mandatory prayer in the name of Jesus Christ? Would many of our fundamentalist Christians be OK with a prayer to a "non-denominational, generic Allah" in the legislative chambers every once in a while?

The government we elect is supposed to represent us as citizens and to be in charge of a very specific and limited set of things. Endorsing religion by mandating everyone's presence at the prayer ceremony is in no way neutral; it is utterly divisive and condescending towards certain minorities, who are, by the way, members of our Iowa community and loving, caring, and productive citizens of this great state. Those who want to pray have plenty of opportunities to do so without dragging everyone else into it, and that's what the atheists' letter to the legislature is all about.
Abzelilla

United States

#17 Jan 12, 2010
joni wrote:
You think ypur feelings are hurt now, wait until your atheist, agnostic of secular humanist self dies. I feel sorry for you but not enough to change my right to pray when ever I want and where ever I want to. Regarding the quote from Kent Sorenson "then aren't they imposing their beliefs on me by asking for this?" Amen Kent, Amen.
Not a single person is challenging YOUR right to pray. Not a single person out there is challenging the right of our legislators to pray in private. What IS being challenged is the imposition of prayer on those who want no part of it whatsoever. You can't come into my house and make me pray, and I most certainly can't (nor want to) come into yours and make you stop praying. Similarly, if I need to attend a legislative session to check how the people I elected are handling state business, I do not want them to make me sit through some ritual I wholeheartedly disagree with, because that's not what I elected them for.

In some religions, animal sacrifice is important. Imagine how offensive an animal sacrifice would be to you as an official part of each legislative sessions, and you'll understand why "prayer" is so offensive to many atheists.
Non-believer

Des Moines, IA

#18 Jan 12, 2010
WDMJoHo wrote:
We all have things about our jobs that gripe us.... If a non-believer has to listen to a short prayer to start a government activity or any other activity for that matter, so what ? You're out-numbered and in the grand scheme of your existence, does it really matter ? Who will you call out to with your last breath ? This isn't just about prayer...Agree to disagree..
Let's install a minaret near your workplace, then, and you can start praying to Allah five times a day. That shouldn't bother you, right? I mean, does it really matter?
Abzelilla

United States

#19 Jan 12, 2010
Connie Urbandale wrote:
They have their believes and I have mine. You leave me alone I will leave you alone.
Exactly!!! Let the legislators leave us, non-religious folks, alone by not imposing religion as a part of the state business (by making prayer attendance mandatory), and we most certainly will leave them alone to do the state business they were elected to do. You, Connie, don't even come into this picture--you are safe to pray when you want, where you want, to whomever you want; just as you've always been able to in this country and, hopefully, will continue being able to...
Andy D

Clinton, IA

#20 Jan 12, 2010
To all IAF members and anyone who agrees with them or that line of thinking, it would appear you are all clearly lacking knowledge about American history and the purpose and conditions under which this country was established.

To all of you making bloated claims of a separation of church and state, I would strongly suggest you go to: usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/facts/democrac/5... . If you take the time to read, you will find you are entirely wrong.

The Ten Commandments are literally engraved everywhere in our governmental buildings in Washington D.C. as well as in most of our State government buildings as evidence our governing bodies are to be based on faith in God. Listed below are several quotes from our founding fathers as well as a few other notable people in history.(Should anyone be unfamiliar with these folks--and I have several more to pull from--one would be considered wise to study some facts before speaking any further against prayer in any setting.)

George Washington
Farewell Address, Sept. 17, 1796
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports...In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens..."

John Adams
"Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but is is RELIGION and MORALITY alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand."

Benjamin Rush
"The only foundation for...a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and lift of all republican governments."

George Washington
"...And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion...reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

Benjamin Rush
"The only foundation for...a republic is to be laid in Religion." "...Christianity is the only true and perfect religion; and that in proportion as mankind adopt its principles and obey its precepts they will be wise and happy."

Charles Carroll
Signer of the declaration
"Without morals, a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments."

Samuel Adams
"Religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness."

Patrick Henry
"The great pillars of all government and of social life are virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor...and this alone, that renders us invincible."

Alexis De Tocqueville
"The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive one without the other....The religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me upon my arrival in the U.S. In France, I had seen the spirits of religion and freedom almost always marching in opposite directions, in America, I found them Intimately linked together and joined and reigned over the same land...Religion should therefore be considered as the first of their political institutions. From the start, politics and religion have agreed and have not since ceased to do so."

Benjamin Franklin
"...only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

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