Don't offend with prayer

February 17, 2014 

When it comes to the separation of church and state, our nation has always had a split personality. The founders, who wrote a Constitution that prohibits the establishment of a national religion, opened their sessions with a prayer. The U.S. Supreme Court in November heard oral arguments challenging the opening prayer at the City Council meetings in Greece, N.Y. Yet the high court opens with: "God save the United States and this honorable court."

People want to have it both ways in America, but the truth is we really can't. Prayer is a wonderful, powerful thing. But public, nonreligious meetings aren't really the place for praying aloud; starting a meeting with a prayer is almost guaranteed to offend somebody.

A moment of silence would be a better option. Or if there is a prayer, it should at least be nondenominational. Opening with the "Our Father" as the St. Clair County Board does is inappropriate because it promotes a specific religion, Christianity. The county is lucky it hasn't been sued like Greece, N.Y.

Beyond the legal question, though, it's just poor manners to open with a prayer that excludes Jews, Muslims and people of other non-Christian faiths.

Yes, the metro-east is primarily a Christian area. But that doesn't mean people should be insensitive to those who hold different spiritual beliefs, or none at all.

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