NEWS BLOG (WSAU) The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on prayers before public meetings. I'm sad that such a case even needs to come through the courts. This is more a matter of civility than for law books.
It's completely appropriate for people who make our laws and determine our public policies to call upon a higher power to guide them. Congress has a Chaplain who offers a public prayer before each session begins. Before the Supreme Court justices take their seats, the Marshall calls out ' God save the United States and this Honorable Court. '
But there are special responsibilities for people who are leading prayer in public. It should be obvious that they're leading a prayer for a group of people that may be very diverse. Asking others to bow their heads in prayer should be as inclusive as possible, covering the broadest number of participants. Dear God, please give your wisdom and understanding to members of our school board as they conduct their business today . Or Dear God, we give thanks for your blessing of self-government and pray that the decisions of our city council will make our community a better place to live . People of all faiths, or no faith at all, could find common ground around those words. In a better world, this would be common sense.
Another under God story was also in the news a Colorado school district that taught students to say the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. They pledged one nation under Allah. Its an old story that happened last year. But a tape of it surfaced last month.
When you recite the pledge, the 'under God' that you evoke should be the God of your faith. When a patriotic Muslim-American says the pledge, they should indeed evoke the name of Allah. Does that part of the pledge have any meaning if someone of another faith calls on a god that they dont recognize or believe in?
Prayer in the public square doesnt need to be problematic. The only thing the Constitution promises us is that the government can't establish an official religion, and can't prevent you from practicing yours. The rest is more a question of common sense and courtesy.
Image: Muslin prayer beads via WikiCommons.com