Are prayers ap­pro­pri­ate for government func­tions?

The Morning Call - - TOWN SQUARE -

A fed­eral court ruled last week that the Pennsylvan­ia state House was al­lowed to have the in­vo­ca­tion that starts each leg­isla­tive day de­liv­ered only by reli­gious lead­ers who be­lieve in God or a divine or higher power. The court said it was con­sti­tu­tional for the House to pro­hibit athe­ists, ag­nos­tics, free­thinkers, hu­man­ists and other non­be­liev­ers from tak­ing the pul­pit. Do you think prayers are ap­pro­pri­ate in government?

Quaker faith cre­ated the thought­ful space I sought for our elected of­fi­cials.

John Mar­quette Beth­le­hem

U.S. Supreme Court de­ci­sion which up­held prayer at public meet­ings as long as no reli­gion is ad­vanced or dis­par­aged and res­i­dents are not co­erced.

The prin­ci­pal dis­sent ar­gued that the in­ti­mate set­ting of lo­cal government meet­ings, the par­tic­i­pa­tion of av­er­age cit­i­zens and the dom­i­nance of Chris­tian prayer put the pol­icy out of bounds. It may put pres­sure on peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate. In the dis­sent it states, “When cit­i­zens of this coun­try ap­proach their government, they do so as Amer­i­cans, not as one faith or another.”

It would seem that a mo­ment of si­lence is the most in­clu­sive way for peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate. That si­lence crosses all bound­aries and back­grounds.

As a ges­ture of re­spect, that time could be used for silent con­tem­pla­tion, prayer, re­flec­tion or med­i­ta­tion. The si­lence can be a uni­fy­ing mo­ment rather than one of sep­a­ra­tion and di­vi­sion.

Fran Ostrosky Hanover Town­ship, Northamp­ton County

We have lost so much in our coun­try since these are things we grew up with. It brings peo­ple to­gether. Kind words are able to be ex­pressed since there is so much dis­re­spect in our ev­ery­day life.

Charlotte Schall White­hall Town­ship


Pennsylvan­ia State Capi­tol build­ing in Har­ris­burg

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