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.