Prayer at City Council Meetings

I received the following comment from an anonymous person who seems against having prayer spoken at our city council meetings... I was watch...

I received the following comment from an anonymous person who seems against having prayer spoken at our city council meetings...
I was watching the U tube video on the new Menifee city council meeting. I was really shocked that they included a prayer. Are we going to be a city or a local club! I believe that if we are a bonified city - we should have separation of church & state. No prayer can cover all the beliefs of the new citizens of Menifee. I have been to other cities council meetings - and they do not pray.

The new city council should respect the beliefs of all the citizens of Menifee and omit the prayer.
Here's my take on this...

I think the prayers that John Denver has been saying at the start of each meeting is just fine. First, these prayers are not endorsed by the council, because none of the council members have voted to officially endorse them. These are not official city prayers.

Second, no one is being to forced the bow their heads and say, "Amen", when Denver says a prayer. You just need to afford every American some respect when they express their religious beliefs. Everyone has a belief of some kind, whether it's a belief in God, a belief that there is nothing, or even if they'd like to believe but don't know what. If you were to express that thought in public, you'd want your space and time to do so also.

The commenter also brought up "respect", and all I can say is that respect is a two-way street. If you want someone to respect you, you have to respect them. I'm sure if you recognize Denver's wishes to express his religious beliefs, he'll recognize yours.

Lastly, this commenter brought up the subject of "Separation of Church and State". I'll challenge that person to find this statement in the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, or any other federal document. It simply doesn't exist.

That statement was made by Thomas Jefferson, while he was President, in a letter that he wrote to a church, promising them that the United States would not endorse any church as its official state church.

For that matter, the City Council, and the City of Menifee, is not endorsing Denver's prayers as being official. They're simply recognizing his First Amendment rights. Every Menifee resident can do the same thing, by using their three minutes of public comment. Denver gets the priviledge of doing this at the start of the council meeting because he earned that priviledge on election day.

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  1. Keep the prayer in

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  2. I agree. Let him pray to whom ever he believes to be god. If you think he's praying to an imaginary friend, is that really going to hurt you?

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  3. Personally I believe that we are going to need all the prayers, best wishes, hopes and dreams we can muster up for the times ahead of us as a city. I say...."It can't hurt" !! God bless us...everyone !

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  4. Prayer should NEVER be brought into a government setting. EVER. I'm shocked that you think it is ok. People can believe whatever they choose, but it should not be brought into a city meeting.

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  5. Thanks for pointing out what so many don't know: "Separation of Church and State" doesn't mean we can't have any prayers or references to religion in a civic setting. The City of Menifee isn't endorsing a state religion.

    I agree with you completely on all counts.

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  6. One Nation Under GOD! In GOD We Trust! AMEN!!!
    Maybe this is something we need alittle more of, and by all means, if you don't like it, LEAVE. Don't be afraid to post your name, instead of posting as anonymous either.
    P.s. I add you into my prayers tonight, whatever your name is....

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  7. One Nation Under GOD! In GOD We Trust! AMEN!!!
    Maybe this is something we need alittle more of, and by all means, if you don't like it, LEAVE. Don't be afraid to post your name, instead of posting as anonymous either.
    P.s. I"ll add you into my prayers tonight, whatever your name is....

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  8. Courts have found that the principle of a "religious liberty" exists behind in the First Amendment, even if those words are not actually there:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
    The point of such an amendment is twofold. First, it ensures that religious beliefs - private or organized - are removed from attempted government control. This is the reason why the government cannot tell either you or your church what to believe or to teach. Second, it ensures that the government does not get involved with enforcing, mandating, or promoting particular religious doctrines. This is what happens when the government "establishes" a church - and because doing so created so many problems in Europe, the authors of the Constitution wanted to try and prevent the same from happening here.

    Can anyone deny that the First Amendment guarantees the principle of religious liberty, even though those words do not appear there? Similarly, the First Amendment guarantees the principle of the separation of church and state - by implication, because separating church and state is what allows religious liberty to exist.
    If Mr. Denver continues to recite prayers, non-denominational or not, one person will sue and the city will have to spend money in a losing battle. The courts have stated the legitimacy of the "Separation of church and state" and we need to wake up and stop being brainwashed by our religious beliefs. The city does not have the money to support a lawsuit that WILL come, and that the city WILL lose. The prayer is inappropriate and should be stopped. I, along with many others, did not vote for cityhood so that our city council could make fools of themselves, by not understanding laws. If our council does not understand the basics of our country's laws, then We, as a community, may have something to worry about.

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  9. It's a little inappropriate to say the least.

    Michelle, perhaps you should practice a little of what you preach and lose the tired "If you don't like it you should leave" bit. It's not so Christian-like. I'll pray for you and your tolerance levels tonight in my bedroom.

    Sincerely,

    Anonymous

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  10. I agree with the poster that brought up "one nation, under God". Our children say the pledge EVERYDAY at school, in which these words are spoken. Is that wrong also? If he is preaching his religious beliefs, I might have a different opinion.
    To anonymous August 14 11:20am- you hit the nail on the head! Who really cares if the guy is saying a prayer to little purple people! If you believe in a "higher power" any prayer could be used how you individually want to use it. What's the hurt?...Unless you're an atheist :)

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  11. I personally do not have a problem with the prayer before the meetings. But, I recognize there will be a time where other religous entities will ask for their share of the time before meetings to administer their own prayer. This could evolve into issue in the very near future.

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  12. Wow Michelle that sure isn't very Christian of you now is it? Tisk. Tisk.

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  13. Michelle maybe instead of telling me to leave you should put your big girl pants on and calm down. I'm entitled to my opinion as much as you, and I'm not telling you to leave.

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  14. There you libs go again preaching tolerance. It's funny how if they don't like something they don't have to be tolerate but if something offends them(libs) they throw that tolerance word around. Michelle I agree with you. Maybe people should stand up and take a look around and see that the country as a whole has thrown GOD under the bus and look where it has gotten us. I am so sick of living in a PC society. There are things that bother me when we are out in public or at different functions but I am not rude and say I am offended I go with the flow and then when it is appropriate we tell our children what we believe and let them make the choice. So if he would like to pray then by all means pray. Just one last point when a certain senator used the Koran to swear in you didn't here the left saying there should be seperation of church and state. No it was the exact opposite, praising him for using the 1st admendment. I agree that both sides will use things to there advantage but it seems to me the LIBS use it more often than not. So when I attented that Chargers game and the players are praying before a game I will be right there with them as well as with Mr. Denver.

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  15. First, Moreno Valley does a prayer before every City Council meeting so if anyone needs a legal opinion I'm sure they've probably vetted it.

    Second, the reason why the nonreligious people have to post anonymously is because the town's bible thumpers can't stand having agnostics or, horrors, atheists in their midst. And save your prayers, we don't need them thanks.

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  16. There is nothing wrong with prayer, but it is a personal choice and should be done in church, religious institution, or home. I personally don't care what M.V. does or does not do. The City Council meetings are the wrong place for prayers. As a previous poster stated, it will take a substanial amount of our tax dollars to fight a lawsuit, which the city will lose. As a Christian I am embarrassed by how the fringe, yet vocal, side of our religion seem to believe that religion should be everywhere. Lack of religion isn't what is wrong with our society. Electing the wrong politicians and lacking responsibility, plus common sense, hurts our society more than a lack of Christianity. As for those of you who use the Pledge as evidence, the "under god" part of the Pledge, added in the 1950's, will go before the Supreme Court soon, and most legal scholars believe the phrase will be thrown out.

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  17. I believe that instead of prayer we should all sing the Anthem of Menifee before each meeting. Maybe we could start a blog to write this Anthem. Or.... maybe we could ask that the council members speak in tongues whilst dancing with snakes for the first 10 mins of each meeting? Much more entertaining.

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  18. Post a comment? Yes, I'd love to!

    First of all I'd like to say that I respect (and God respects) everyone's right to an opinion, however, remember that your opinion does not equal truth, necessarily. Just because you believe something doesn't make it "true for you". If you can't see that, don't bother reading the rest of my post.

    Respectfully, (and with much tolerance) those of you who don't think prayer belongs in government are living in the wrong country. You should check out some of our nation's founding documents and the quotes and speeches of our leaders from the last 500 years or so since this nation has been in existence, whether it be in colonial or federal form. It's only recently that we've decided to be a publicly secular nation. You might be more comfortable in a communist country like Cuba or China, though I hear even there, they are "tolerant" of a state-run church, but it has the fabled "separation" you desire.

    Regarding political correctness, it's a disease that results in a watering down of everything into a gray lukewarm mess that is ripe for invasion or overthrow by hostile enemies. The more you suppress you convictions, the weaker you become in character and leadership. Just look at the presidential candidate on the left (for example), he's not a flip-flopper, he's on EVERY side of most issues, depending on who he's talking to, or who he thinks is listening.

    The God who created us is the only God who deserves our prayers, worship and honor. I suggest we go back to the beginning and find out who the men that forged this great nation thought that was...

    Atheism is a cop-out at best, and a poor excuse to make yourself a "god" at worst, but I respect the fact that many of you who think you're atheists are still alive, and so you still have a chance to become un-atheist. Two words, "Irreducible Complexity". ;)

    Those of you who call yourselves "agnostics" should go back and look up the origin of that word. You might be surprised, but make sure you don't use a "PC" dictionary. :D

    We need THE God in America again. Note the "definite article".

    Yes, I'd love to make a comment!

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  19. Jeff,

    You need to go back and study history. Many of the Framers of our country, including Jefferson, were deists. They also believed that God should stay out of government, just as government should stay out of religion. I am so sick of so-called "Christians" trying to force everyone to believe what they believe. As a Christian, I would like others to stop making fools of us by claiming historical inaccuracies. We were not created as a Christian nation, nor should we be now. Be a Christian, love God, but don't have the absolute gall to try and force others to believe what you believe. Religion doesn't belong in politics, at a federal or local level.

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  20. Prayer at a goverment sponsered gathering is like being exposed to second hand smoke...

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  21. Mark, I can agree with you that government should not endorse any specific religion, but let's not mix government bodies with elected officials. Elected officials are American citizens with First Amendment rights. As I said in the article, the city council as a whole did not vote to endorse Denver's prayers. If they had, then it would be a clear violation of the First Amendment.

    As for our Framers, they didn't specifically write verbage into the Constitution allowing elected officials to pray in a civic setting, but then again, they didn't specifically prohibit it either.

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  22. Steve, read the first amendment.
    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances".
    All major courts have agreed that the 1st Amendment prohibits Any public entity from endorsing any religion, through prayer or otherwise. It does not matter that Mr. Denver is the only one promoting it or that the council voted as a whole or not, it is a governmental proceeding and prayer of any kind is forbidden. The council is there to serve our community, and the council chambers are not a religious dwelling. Mr. Denver is more than welcome to pray during Sunday mass, but he should not be praying during a public forum. People can try to sugar coat the issue, but it is legally wrong, whether you agree or not.

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  23. Well, since prayer is just fine to most of you, then it must also be fine to attend and burn bible pages, pledge support for little green men, and perform satanic rituals.

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  24. Wow, I had no idea (until now) of the level of nastiness and pettiness of folks in this area, or at least ones who post on this board. I don't understand how Anonymous August 15, 2008 5:43 AM's comment "to attend and burn bible pages, pledge support for little green men, and perform satanic rituals" has any relationship with saying a little prayer.

    Can't we all just get along?

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  25. To Lynn and everyone else that thinks it is just a little prayer...I believe you are missing the point.It sounds like you think it is ok because he is praying to YOUR God. If he was praying to a demon or Vishnu or Tom Cruise you might think it was inappropriate. As a previous poster said this could get out of hand real quick.

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  26. I found the prayer to be quite refreshing...and its so sad that people can be so nasty about such simple thing...and go to such extremes like some of the anonymous posters.
    I too am so tired of being PC because being "correct" changes so much, depending on who is in office and what the latest buzz word is. Being PC just depends on what decade we are in.
    That said, I know what happened down in Vista, because two of the school board members dared to say PRIVATE prayers before meetings...people like anonymous raised a big stink, and recalled them, even though they did a terrific job, the school district actually had surplus reserve funds when they left.
    Perhaps a moment of silence?

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  27. What church denomination is councilman Denver trying to promote?

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  28. There is no point trying to have rational discussions with people that want to interject religiosity into government. Church will never be enough for them. For me the question is haven't we all had enough of this mentality? Does anyone know what our recourse is to nip this Anti-American behavior in the bud?

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  29. All:

    Our United States Senate has been opened with prayer since the beginning.

    Barry Black is the official Chaplain of the Senate, and opens the Senate with prayer each day.

    http://www.senate.gov/reference/office/chaplain.htm

    Every President has been sworn in on a Bible.

    The bill of rights does not say "freedom FROM religion", only against the government establishing and enforcing a state sancitioned religion through force.

    It is very appropriate that Menifee council sessions are opened with prayer.

    Bill Lussenheide
    Candidate US Congress-CA 49 2010

    http://www.FaithFamilyFreedoms.blogspot.com

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  30. The United States House of Representatives opens each day with a prayer also. The chaplain of the house has a webpage:

    http://chaplain.house.gov

    Seems to me that if our elected officials in the federal government see no harm in opening with a prayer, then neither should local governments or their constituents.

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  31. For goodness sakes - just the mention of prayer and here goes the bloggers on a rampage. Shame on anyone who is annoyed by a prayer; these same ones are quick to get every prayer possible said on their behalf if they think their life is threatened! Thank you John Denver - stand up and continue the prayer; our new city needs all the help it can get. LOOK what's happened in the school since they removed all prayer!

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  32. I Think the candidate for Congress. Needs to go back and learn the law before posting. Almost every court has upheld that public forums are no place for religious beliefs. The vast majority of Christians understand that their religious beliefs are not everyones beliefs and that religion is a private issue. Unfortunately we do have a healthy dose of Evangelicals amongst others who want to force their beliefs onto others. If you truly believe it is ok for prayer to be said at the council meeting or any other public forum, then you should not be a congressman. By the way, each individual President is given a choice as to what book they swear their oath on from the Bible, to the Koran, or no book if the candidate would happen to be Agnostic or Atheist. In 2007, When they were to have a Hindu prayer spoken, so-called "Christians" protested. Apparently only "Christian" prayer is allowed in some peoples minds. Finally, just because some of our government entities use religous prayer to open , does not mean it is right. It just hasn't been teted in court yet. And since the Evangelicals are a huge voting block, the chance of a Congressman or Senator having the courage to stand up for what is right is slim to none. I have faith and I live by my faith, but I also value the ideas layed down by our forefathers. Religion and faith are great things, but they do not belong in public settings. Not now, not ever.

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  33. I think it's great they are having prayer at the City Council Meetings. I do respect those who don't pray. But, Please don't take anything else away from our freedoms.
    Don't tell us what we an and can't do in public.
    We ALL need to be respectful of each other's beliefs and non-beliefs.

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  34. How can you "shame" people who don't believe as you do? How is that right?

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  35. Respectfully, to Mark,
    As a Christian, I don't try to 'force everyone to believe' what I believe. That's just ludicrous. You can't force anyone to believe anything, though there are lots of religions around the world that try to force people to do what they want them to do. In contrast, Christ has freed us to live for Him, to Honor God, to obey His word, and to get people saved by delivering the message of the cross and what Jesus' death means. Basically, Christians are here as ambassadors of Christ, and we need to represent.

    Anyway, if you want to rail against people who are "forcing" people to believe things, you might try going and living in another country and see how real Christians live over there. Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, China, and Indonesia are all examples of countries whose governments force people to "believe" they way they want them to. If they don't, they get "persecution". Most of the countries I named are Islamic Regimes that kill and torture people who don't believe as they do, but there are militant radicals in all religions, including Buddhists, Hindus and yes, even so-called Christians.

    By the way, isn't our government telling us to believe by preaching its message of tolerance and political correctness through the public schools and such and passing laws and hindering free speech?

    Stop complaining about how a little prayer is somehow "forcing" someone to believe something and start being thankful that God still works in the affairs of men in spite of the way we've been treating Him lately. God is long-suffering, but eventually, He will just leave us to our own, and that's when all hell will break loose. Better to call on Him while he is NEAR.

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  36. Jeff, with all due respect, stop preaching to people. You have very little knowledge of "world" religions or the history of Christianity. The fact is, in the eyes of the law, religion is a personal decision and should not be accepted in any public setting. To science,it is a story, an idea created by man to add a "meaning" to life. Faith can not be proven. Don't act as though Christians are all peaceful, following the words of God. Many "Christians" are as ignorant and as hatefilled as their "Islamic" brethern. The vast majority of Muslims are as peaceful as most Christians. You, amongst others, are trying to get people to follow your beliefs. No, Christians, in America, are not being persecuted, or having their freedoms controlled. A certain segment of Christians are paranoid and believe everyone is out to get them. God gave us a brain, it would be nice if we all used the brain to think. Christian extremists will always argue that God belongs everywhere. They falsely believe that America wass created as a Christian nation. Prayer before council meetings is inappropriate, regardless of what many of the so-called "Christians" claim. I believe in God, and I live by the teachings of Christ. I also use the brain God gave me to think, and analyze. I don't believe God should be banished, but I also know that God, in any form, does not belong in politics.

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  37. This is a free country. So if I ride down your block one night on my Harley, and happen to make enough noise to wake up your sick child just after you workded so hard to get her to fall asleep, then that's just your tough luck. Why should I care about what you think?

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  38. Religion, hypocrisy, extremism, violence, war etc. etc. etc.

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  39. Anonymous at 5:14pm: You obviously aren't the brightest bulb, but I will try to explain. If your trendy Harley can be heard from more than 50 ft, it is illegal. Now most law enforcement and citizens don't care that much because most people are repectful. You are a sad person who feels more manley waking up sick children. I gues Freud was right. Some men do make up for other inadequacies by buying big trucks, sport cars, and Harleys. You are proof of it.

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  40. "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God." John Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence

    "I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as satisfied that it is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament." Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence..
    "We've staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us, to govern ourselves according to the commandments of God. The future and success of America is not in this Constitution, but in the laws of God upon which this Constitution is founded.” James Madison, father of our Constitution.

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  41. I think it's funny how closed minded some "Christians" are. One call to the ACLU and this is the next segment on the Hanity & Colmes show. Mellow out people. You know if it was a small town in Alabama we would all be ok with it, but this is the whopper soon to be Menifee with aspirations of greatness and prosperity. Therefore, let us pray on our own time not using our government to guide us prayer. Denver is a councilman not a priest or a pastor or shawman, etc. I don't go to meetings to become spiritually motivated by a councilman, I want to discuss politics not religion.Keep your faith and beliefs to yourself/family and to those that want to share.No one is losing any rights by asking Denver to not pray at meetings. They are simply saying it has absolutely nothing to do with the council as a governing entity. S.O.M.

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  42. City Council meetings are not the place for prayer. If you want to pray, go to church. Keep the meetings professional!!!

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  43. If you don't like the prayer don't bow your head, just practice keeping your mouth shut for a minute and show a little respect (hard for some people). I'm sure most, If not all of you against prayer don't mind voicing your opinions and the rest of us have to listen to them. Of course If you would keep your mouths shut and your opinions to yourselves, then there wouldn't be any reason for the rest of us to pray.

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  44. Need an example of Christian nastiness? Here it is:

    f you don't like the prayer don't bow your head, just practice keeping your mouth shut for a minute and show a little respect (hard for some people). I'm sure most, If not all of you against prayer don't mind voicing your opinions and the rest of us have to listen to them. Of course If you would keep your mouths shut and your opinions to yourselves, then there wouldn't be any reason for the rest of us to pray.

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  45. Yeah isn't that a good one?

    I love the one about how having an opinion is the reason why people need to pray.

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  46. WOW, I can't believe how petty and nasty this whole thing has gotten.
    Even if you don't believe in God doesn't mean he doesn't exist and even if you don't pray doesn't mean it doesn't work. God will bless Denver because he admitted he can't do this on his own. I for one ,hope that the others can ask for help too. Man has tried to do everything on his own and look where this nation has gone. I just pray that Denver continues to pray and asks for guidance in building this new city.

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  47. Ok Bible Thumpers, you gonna loose this one. As a City elected official he can not impose his personal beliefs on others. He has every right to silent prayer but not when he Unites others in that belief. I think prayer is important inall that I do, but I let my actions speak louder than a symbol. If John Denver is praying openly, that means something is truly brewing on his heels and he needs it. I am Bible believer and it says Paraphrased "Do not pray like the hypocrites for they do it to be seen."

    Bring back prayer in the schools, they do it at MUSD already, they even bring in a local Pastor. I have a problem with convenient pray, or prayer to establish your on beliefs. You will spend countless dollars fighting this because as In God We Trust, The Legal system does not agree.

    Good Luck and God Bless

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  48. Yes, Mark, I am trying to get people to believe as I do, because my faith is worth sharing, my country is worth saving, and what people think about me is not more important as what God has called me to do.

    If you (or anyone else) would like to further discuss the topic of what is the appropriate approach to living out our faith, and the role of the believer in society, please email me directly.

    Regarding prayer, the fact is, if we, as a nation don't honor our Creator, we will be reduced to a captive people, governed by man's rules, opinions and whims, and our freedom, which our founders stated comes from God, and not any governing body, will be diminished. It's already happening.

    Look around the world and see how countries whose God is not the LORD fare. The United States an extraordinary exception because we, until recently have publicly acknowledged God. See how nations with Judeo/Christian roots have been blessed. See how some of those nations are also now declining.

    Our Creator has revealed Himself in the Bible and through the Person of Jesus Christ, and has continually worked through believers to affect His will in the world since the events recorded in the book of Acts. Praying and asking Him to intervene and guide our public forums and political decisions is not religion, it's a matter of national security and a matter of survival for our nation as we have known it. If we don't acknowledge Him, we are left to our own devices, our own understanding, and that will eventually lead to our destruction as a nation.

    That nation is blessed, whose God is the LORD.

    Thank you, Dani, for those quotes, and they are merely a few in a vast library of evidence of the faith of our fathers.

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