American Atheists go on CNN to discuss government led prayer

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Amanda Knief of American Atheists appeared on CNN this morning to discuss the Greece v. Galloway Supreme Court Case.

For those unfamiliar, Greece v. Galloway is the Supreme Court case being reviewed about government led prayer, especially government led prayer that is specific to a single religion (and surprise, surprise, it’s Christianity!).

The Friendly Atheist has a great breakdown of the entire court case, so I will not spend time repeating here.

The below video is Knief speaking to CNN and defending the secular side of the court case while Pastor Robert Jeffress tried unconvincingly to defend the Christian rights side of the argument.

Written By: Dan Arel
continue to source article at secularprogramming.org

21 COMMENTS

  1. One way to argue is, “What would you think if city council insisted on a non-Christian prayer, e.g. Islamic or Wiccan? Would you acquiesce? Then why do you expect others to acquiesce to a Christian prayer?”.

  2. If prayers at city hall is a preferred religion, that is defacto establishing a state religion. This mean creating a new religion, but installing a state religion.

    There would not be a lawsuit of people did not feel this prayer was an attempt to force a state religion on them.

  3. If congress had established a state religion, how would you know? Why is it a bad thing to establish a state religion?

    If you studied the history of England and Ireland, you will remember that Catholics were squeezed out of public life. They were not allowed to hold office, vote, own land. Sometimes they were killed. They were forced to swear Anglican oaths. Over time, the severity of the exclusion varied. At best they were made to feel unwelcome, much the way the councillors in Greece use Christian prayers to make non-protestants feel unwelcome. That is why they are doing it. It has nothing whatsoever to do with a desire to pray! This is a dominance display to say “Protestants only here”.

    Christians are fully aware of how noxious their prayers are to atheists. That is why they use them, like insect repellent.

  4. I bet you would find none of these councilors in Greece pray at any other time except at council meetings.

    Allowing the occasional prayer from some other group upsets them because they lose dominance, not because lose some precious prayer time.

    They argue the state should not block their freedom to impose Christianity on others. Even if it were not in the constitutition, it
    should still be illegal. They are infuriating. They don’t seem to realise how unfair they are, because the sun rises and sets only in Christian arm pits.

    • In reply to #4 by Roedy:

      I bet you would find none of these councilors in Greece pray at any other time except at council meetings.

      I watch city council meetings via cable; heads are bowed, knowing they are being taped.

      silly rabbits, trix are for kids ~ Superficially, kumbaya – deeper, dog eat dog outside city hall walls.

  5. If you listen carefully you will hear the Christian misstate the Constitution in a tricky way they try to use to their advantage. He claims that the Constitution states that Congress shall make no law establishing a State Religion. However, what the “Establishment Clause” actually says is: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . .” The word “respecting” was put in explicitly. The framers could have left it out and made it “establish no State Religion” but they did not because it was meant to keep the State from not only making a religion required of the people, but also to keep the State from showing favoritism. This has been decided in several SCOTUS cases (mostly involving school prayer), and is not in question. Specifically, the “wall of separation between Church and State” as envisioned by Jefferson, is the official interpretation of the combined Establishment and Free Exercise clauses.

    This case could go either way based on a swing vote by Justice Kennedy, but I give it a good chance to follow the precedence set in the many school prayer cases. People need access to fair hearings at the local government level, so it is not like a baseball game where you just have to put up with standing for “God Save America” during the seventh-inning stretch because it is a tradition at a voluntary event. The meeting might be about a religious display that some church wants to put up on public land, so having a prayer session right before that vote is clearly not fair. Still, prayer in Congress has been ruled traditional and not unconstitutional, so it might go in the religious favor.

    • In reply to #6 by godsbuster:

      The worlds greatest superpower ever and this is what they have to spend their time on over and over again. Religion poisons everything.

      Or possibly an unhealthily large population of lawyers poisons everything… they need to generate disputes to stay in business. The law of diminishing returns means the disputes become increasingly banal, as all the major constitutional issues were pretty much settled ages ago.

      I write, with due respect to m’learned friends, as someone who spent many years in the legal profession.

      • In reply to #9 by Stevehill:

        In reply to #6 by godsbuster:

        Or possibly an unhealthily large population of lawyers poisons everything… they need to generate disputes to stay in business. Th…

        Certainly the US is the most lawyerized nation on earth. I think it’s where the phrase “to get lawyered up” originated. However, attorneys can only feed on what a culture enslaved to an 18th century document that guarantees and indeed glorifies the “free exercise of belief in supernatural myths” allows them to feed on.

        The media perhaps shares a bigger part of the blame: this is a simple single soundbite “controversial” issue that can always be relied on to accelerate the mouth-breathing of the US’ notoriously massive bible(t)humping constituency who duly tune in boosting viewership.

  6. She was courteous, respectful and well-reasoned and as usual the person representing religion’s side fails to understand the simplest of concepts, because they are too busy crying about religious freedom. They are so eager to utter the phrase in their defense and too slow to do it in the defense of others.

    • In reply to #8 by rod-the-farmer:

      Interesting approach. “CONGRESS cannot make a law regarding religion, but they said nothing about a STATE making laws.” Bring in the constitutional lawyers.

      That was worked though awhile back. Constitutional rights trump State law. Some States still have laws against atheists giving sworn testimony in court, but those are not enforced because of our Constitutional right not to be excluded based on religion. The same goes for school prayer. If the school prayer decisions based on Constitutional separation of Church and State did not cover all the States at once, you can absolutely be assured that many of them would be praying in school today.

  7. I’d like to ask that Texan pastor if he thinks the second amendment should likewise be interpreted more closely to its true wording, which specifically refers to the right of WELL REGULATED MILITIAS to bear arms, and not individual citizens…. I have a funny feeling he would be a little looser on his understanding of that one…

    • In reply to #11 by McCourt:

      I’d like to ask that Texan pastor if he thinks the second amendment should likewise be interpreted more closely to its true wording, which specifically refers to the right of WELL REGULATED MILITIAS to bear arms, and not individual citizens…. I have a funny feeling he would be a little looser on h…

      Except that a legitimate interpretation is that since the state needs a well regulated militia we should not infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms. Who is going to fill the militia? Anyway the 2nd Amendment is pretty clear that it does, in fact, apply to people.

      “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”

  8. Sorry to sound like Bill Maher, but: new rule: if a legal issue is being debated, put the exact words on the screen, then tell off anyone who lies about it to pretend it doesn’t have implications it actually does. This “it’s against establishing, not endorsing” BS as soon as you see: “Congress$ shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” (emphasis mine), meaning respecting (e.g. endorsing) an existing establishment is prohibiting. ($ Other parts of the constitution imply such a limitation on Congress automatically has more universal extent.)

  9. When debating the issue of separation of church and state, stop using “fairness” or “inclusion” tactic. It is not a fairness issue (to include all religions and atheism). It is purely a secular issue.

  10. Weasel makes the point that “government should not regulate the content of prayer”, thinking that it speaks against the court judgement. He completely misses the fact that a Christian (and only Christian) prayer before a council meeting IS EXACTLY ‘government regulating the content of prayer’.

    He just doesn’t like it if it doesn’t work his way. Weasels, all of them.

  11. Demographics will eventually put a majority on the SCOTUS that considers prayers as silly magic charms. Unfortunately, we may have to wait for the under 30′s to become the over 50′s for that to happen.

  12. why drag prayer into a government meeting at all? if I were at the meeting I would have been highly offended. Prayer is a personal thing; municipal (or any other level of government) is a public thing.

  13. In reply to #7 by Mormon Atheist:

    She was courteous, respectful and well-reasoned and as usual the person representing religion’s side fails to understand the simplest of concepts, because they are too busy crying about religious freedom. They are so eager to utter the phrase in their defense and too slow to do it in the defense of…

    One thing I’ve noticed is that religious types are constantly whining about folks taking away their religious freedom, while they’re trying to cram their rules down everyone elses’ throats.

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