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You can't pray in Christ's name in North Carolina...

... but you can reach out to Muslims at NASA and in fact name that outreach as NASA's foremost mission.

Welcome to Obama's America:

A North Carolina pastor was relieved of his duties as an honorary chaplain of the state house of representatives after he closed a prayer by invoking the name of Jesus.

"I got fired," said Ron Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. He had been invited to lead prayer for an entire week but his tenure was cut short when he refused to remove the name Jesus from his invocation.

Baity's troubles began during the week of May 31. He said a House clerk asked to see his prayer. The invocation including prayers for our military, state lawmakers and a petition to God asking him to bless North Carolina."

"When I handed it to the lady, I watched her eyes and they immediately went right to the bottom of the page and the word Jesus," he told FOX News Radio. "She said 'We would prefer that you not use the name Jesus. We have some people here that can be offended.'"

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Comments (22)

In an editorial, the <a hre... (Below threshold)
James H:

In an editorial, the Hickory Daily Record offers an angle I hadn't considered:

It is perplexing that a public body such as the General Assembly would take great pains to invite ministers of different faiths to perform daily invocations, but insist on removing diversity from the prayers.

[...]

So what's the problem with a Baptist minister mentioning Jesus? Likewise, what would be the problem with a Jew not mentioning Jesus or a Muslim beseeching guidance from Allah?

Not a bad idea, honestly. You allow individual ministers to offer prayers suited to their various religions as a celebration of American religious diversity, rather than enacting a sanitized ceremonial deism.

This has very little to do ... (Below threshold)
James H:

This has very little to do with "Obama's America," Rick. Did you bother to look ouside Fox News for even a few minutes? The Winston-Salem Journal has more context on this issue.

Some noteworthy points:

1) There are, in fact, at two Jewish members of the North Carolina House.

2) While there is no official policy on the mention of Jesus in prayers, there is nevertheless a tradition of broad non-sectarian prayer delivered by the chaplain.

3) At least one rabbi has been invited to offer an invocation.

I find the first point especially salient. Any person who is called to offer a prayer for the legislature is offering it as a service to all the legislators who are members of the body. If some of those legislators are Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, or of other faiths, then a sectarian prayer may indeed be inappropriate.

Ultimately, any chaplain who delivers a prayer to the legislature does so for the service of that legislature. And that legislature is ultimately answerable to the people it represents. And if those people happen to represent a wide swath of religions, I would argue that the legislature does its people a disservice by embracing prayer that is specific to a single faith.

A commkunal prayer can be a wonderful thing. It can be a way for a group to honor a god, to recall it is serving a calling behind its own selfish desires, and most importantly. that prayer can be used to affirm the sense of community a group shares.

But an opening prayer can also be used to exclude. Its words can remind a group that there are some people who are "us" and "we," and some people who are not. And when the sectarian is brought into a distinctly secular context, it can make certain people present quite uncomfortable.

For an example of how this works the other way, I refer you to this 2005 letter of the week from World Net Daily. A snippet:

Let me start by saying I am an evangelical Christian and have pretty hard-core beliefs about the rights of individuals, particularly students, to express their faith, to include religious themes in their school work, to perform Christian-themed music and dramas during school talent events, etc. If a school administrator had ever tried to stop one of my kids from carrying a Bible, participating in voluntary prayer, or openly discussing their faith with another student, I would have sued him back in to the Stone Age.

You might be surprised then to learn that I am adamantly opposed to teachers and other school officials leading students in prayer or the conduct of prayer rituals, even by students, at officially sanctioned events. Why would I take a position that is seemingly so at odds with my core beliefs?

The jug eared fool approve'... (Below threshold)
914:

The jug eared fool approve's of this message.

So what happens when you ha... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

So what happens when you have a legislator who is also an avowed atheist?

Seems someone should be reminded that the US Constitution doesn't say that you have a right NOT to be offended.

James... I'd agree to some ... (Below threshold)
Rick:

James... I'd agree to some extent... but... the point here is the juxtaposition of our outreach to a particular religion by a government agency and what's taking place in North Carolina...

It's... alarming...

Rick:I think we ca... (Below threshold)
James H:

Rick:

I think we can distinguish international relations from prayers at your friendly neighborhood state legislature.

Garand:I personall... (Below threshold)
James H:

Garand:

I personally prefer no prayer whatsoever. Not because I'm a godless atheist (which I am) but simply because I believe in a strong separation of church and state.

But my rather puritanical Establishment Clause views aside, public prayer at a state-sponsored event, or even at a legislature, is a tricky thing. Do the standards change based on scale or numbers? I mean, you can argue that the two atheists in a hundred-member legislative body can just deal with it because the prayer is for the other 98, who are all Christian. But what if it's two atheists in a 50-member body? A thirty-member body? A 10-member body? What if the body consists of two Christians, two Muslims, and an atheist, and the Muslims want an imam, while the Christians want a priest?

And what if the situation gets more complicated? Say you have a community that is majority Christian, but the city council has a minority of Muslims and Jews. The council traditionally has a local Baptist minister do an opening invocation, but the Muslim and Jewish members of the city council want to set up a rotating schedule involving an imam and a rabbi. Should the Christians on this city council accede to the request, or should they tell the Muslims and the Jews to suck it?

And I'd better stop these questions before a priest, a rabbi, and an imam walk into a bar, and the priest says ...

Then we get even more complications. A prayer is not just holy words, but it can also involve a minister (of whatever stripe) leading the assembled legislators in a communal prayer.

The minute that minister says, "We ask you this, O Lord, in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who gave his life for our sins ... " that minister has not merely offended the two Jewish members of the legislature, but he has also appropriated them for a ritual they don't believe in. Doesn't this interfere with their free exercise of religion?

Let me add:If you'... (Below threshold)
James H:

Let me add:

If you're going to insist on a non-deistic prayer for your legislature, I've always favored the rotating holy men model -- set up a schedule for people who wish to offer the prayers, open to all comers, without discrimination.

International relations? W... (Below threshold)
Rick:

International relations? With one religious group? By a government agency whose focus used to be space and aeronautics?

C'mon man...

Rick:I'm not sure ... (Below threshold)
James H:

Rick:

I'm not sure what you're trying to allege here. Sending US officials onto al-Jazeerah to talk about Islam's contribution to the world is just diplomacy. You know, talking to people other than ourselves?

The NASA program that you previously cited is aimed at science students specifically from the UAE. Again, political, cultural, and scientific interchange. It is neither more nor less sinister than, say, if NASA enacted a similar program involving India.

Don't the state lawmakers h... (Below threshold)
Highlander:

Don't the state lawmakers have better things to do with their time than listening to some primitive preacher beseeching his god?

Highlander can always be co... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Highlander can always be counted on to take the high road. He knows all, sees all.

Jim. I have no problem with a rotating schedule if that's what they want. But it's pretty hard to acknowledge the current 'separation of church and state' (which BTW appears NO WHERE in the Constitution)-especially when the President is taking the oath of office ON A BIBLE.

Everyone's so touchy feely ... (Below threshold)
G.:

Everyone's so touchy feely today, and so damn offended at everything. If you don't want Jesus's name invoked don't invite Christians to lead a prayer as Honorary Chaplains in the State House! Now,(as I bang my head on my keyboard) how easy is that? Frickin politically correct Democrats, MORONS beyond belief! I swear I've been abducted and am living on another planet or I'm stuck in a Twilight zone episode! If you helped vote these unbelievable dumbass's in power you should have your ass kicked!

Damn,I can't wait till November!

Sending US off... (Below threshold)
Rick:
Sending US officials onto al-Jazeerah to talk about Islam's contribution to the world is just diplomacy. You know, talking to people other than ourselves?

Isn't it more than that though James? Obama told Bolden that NASA's foremost mission is now to reach out to Muslims and have them feel good about their scientific achievements... foremost mission... what if Bolden had been directed by Obama to reach out to Jews... to Christians... what then?

"...reach out to Muslims an... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"...reach out to Muslims and have them feel good about their scientific achievements...."

You'd think they'd know what their 'scientific achievements' were. But why do we have to revisit the 16th century?

Hey Barack! SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS!

James H.There is v... (Below threshold)
hcddbz:

James H.

There is very interesting thing often people talk about the separation of Church and State when the Constitution states no establishment of religion.
Freedom of religion or from it is a fine thing. We do not want a Church of America like the Church of England.
If the government wants men of faith to over prayers then they should recognize that they would want to prayer to their deity. When the government can dictate how someone can pray and to who prayer is given is that not establishing a religion?

This preacher did not preach hate or demand forced conversion he h just recognized his God by his name.

As someone who lives in NC,... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

As someone who lives in NC, I can testify that here, one gets prayed at, over, and for morning noon and night, whether one wishes to or not.

A little less prayer around here would be a good thing. If I hear one more supercilious, holier-than-thou so called "Christian" telling me to "have a blessed day" after checking out 35 items in the express lane I think I'll shit. Don't even get me started on the dirty looks one gets when asked "What church do you attend?" and one's answer is "none."

Random people will ask you on the street, or in casual conversation about the weather, if Jesus is your personal savior. I kid you not. It happens all the time. People will invite you to visit their church, and get VERY offended if you beg off, however politely. It is simply assumed that EVERYONE is a Christian around here. And this in the most cosmopoloitan area of the state. I'm surprised anyone said anything to this preacher, frankly. Some kind of anomaly. The orthodoxy is so thick around here you could cut it with a knife.

Chill out Bruce! You'll en... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Chill out Bruce! You'll end up in an early grave. I don't preach to others nor force my views on them. When 'accosted', I merely tell the person "It's a private matter and I don't wish to discuss it." That's polite. Like Mamma taught me. If they persist, at my current age it can quickly go to "Hey! FUCK OFF!". Depends on the persistence. But as for wishing me a 'blessed day'.......it's the thought that counts. Just say "Thanks!".

But then, during the season, I do go out of my way to wish EVERYONE "Merry Christmas!". If they're offended. Tough shit. Go buy some Quaalude.

That's too funny GarandFan.... (Below threshold)
G.:

That's too funny GarandFan.

That's one thing that's puz... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

That's one thing that's puzzled me about atheists. The premise is that God doesn't exist, so they have to force THEIR thinking on everyone else, since they don't want to hear anything about God.

But if God doesn't exist - why should it matter at all to an atheist what other people believe?

Freedom OF Religion, not fr... (Below threshold)
olsoljer:

Freedom OF Religion, not freedom From religion

Separation of Church and State - that not a SINGLE church be Recognized as the Religion of the State. Religious Freedom.

For well over 200 years the United States of America has done just fine - and we have had many atheists agnostics and other assorted religion followers in our Country and certainly in our Congress. Our way has worked. When did religion interfere with society? When a few (but very noisy) minority said it did, and because of "political correctness" we now have one hell of a mess, with Muslim and other anti-American factions taking full advantage. I don't have a problem with a Muslim asking Allah's blessings upon me, I think any rational being would be glad to have a religious leader ask for blessings upon them regardless of his or their religious (or lack of) religious beliefs. What could it possibly hurt? Does it offend you when someone says "have a nice day"?
Muslim countries DO NOT HAVE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. The RELIGION is the government, and no political decision is made without consent of RELIGIOUS LEADERS. Try disrespecting Mohammed, Allah, or preaching a religion other that Muslim in THEIR countries.
THERE IS NO FREEDOM OF RELIGION MUCH LESS FREEDOM FROM RELIGION. It better be the RIGHT brand of Muslim religion - because your LIFE is at stake. There are no confessional booths mandated in airports, why are footbaths mandated? Are we opening the door to a dual justice system? One for muslims and one for "all others". If we do, what happens to a non-muslim who breaks sharia law? Whose justice is that person subject to? Want YOUR daughter buried up to her chest and stoned to death for talking to two muslim boys? What if it happened in a public school?
I have no religious convictions. I don't want anyone trying to convince me to be religious or that their religion is the true way. I don't think that telling a child that masturbating or thinking "bad thoughts" will condemn him/her to an everlasting visit to hellfire, and I don't believe teaching children that killing people who don't believe in their relgiion is OK.
I believe that abortion is reprehensible. BUT it is opposed by RELIGIOUS beliefs more than anything else - hence you are forcing a religious belief upon someone. If you believe in your religion FREEDOM OF CHOICE,free will) was granted by God. If you think abortion is an affront to God, then you should believe that God will judge the transgressor - NOT YOU!
If you try to force the issue, you are perverting God's gift of free will, and placing yourself in the Judgement Seat. I don't think your God will really appreciate intervening in his job description - as in THAT IS ABOVE YOUR PAY GRADE.
I believe in freedom of religion, the Pledge of Allegiance, an opportunity for prayer in school. I believe in Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Shalom, Allah's Blessing Be Upon You.
I believe in The Declaration of Independance, The United States Constitution and The Bill of Rights AS WRITTEN - I also believe in the proposed 10 Amendments for Freedom as proposed to guarantee our Constitution cannot be subverted or "interpreted" to suit political goals or ambitions.

There is power in the Name ... (Below threshold)
Flex:

There is power in the Name of Jesus the Messiah. Unbelievers and people want to stop that because they are in darkness and can't stand in the light.

At this Name of Jesus the Messiah, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess.

As for me and my family, we'll serve Him now, rather than be separated from our loving God for eternity.

God is good and His mercies endure forever! Don't miss Him. Jesus is Lord!




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