Friday, October 31, 2008

For [insert god's name]'s Sake

From the 10/31/08 NJL Daily Briefing:

Choosing the right benediction is a tricky thing for a public entity. Take the Cobb County, Ga., County Commission and its corresponding Planning Commission. Both commissions had a long tradition of opening their meetings with a prayer. Both have invited various clergy to offer the prayers, for the most part but not exclusively Christian, and in both cases the clergy have incorporated specific tenets of their religious beliefs and invoked God in the particular name, such as Jesus or Allah, used by their fellow believers. Seven local taxpayers sued to stop the practice by both commissions, saying the U.S. Constitution permits only nonsectarian prayers. But first a federal district court and now the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided the County Commission had not violated the establishment clause, while the Planning Commission had. Why? Because the former appeared to choose speakers at random from lists in the Yellow Pages, yet the latter - while it used the Yellow Pages - seemed to shy away from certain sects. So, invoking God in other words is just fine, as long as the god is absolutely random! You can read the full line of argument at 10-31-08

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