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Old 12-15-2005, 09:11 PM   #1
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Good God - For Jesus "No room at the In-

diana Statehouse

"Just a Little Talk with Jesus"


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Legislature to fight to pray to Jesus

BY EDDIE BAEB
BLOOMBERG NEWS

December 15, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS -- A federal judge's order that the Indiana Legislature stop using the name Jesus Christ in its 188-year practice of holding an opening prayer has sparked protests from residents, politicians and clergy.

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma said Wednesday that he will appeal the ruling, which an Indianapolis Star newspaper editorial criticized as "terribly intolerant."

Some pastors are refusing to lead invocation prayers to a generic God in the legislature, where lawmakers moved to amend the Indiana Constitution this year to prohibit same-sex marriage and may debate next year whether schools must teach so-called intelligent design as an alternative theory to evolution.

"The forces that want to take religious faith out of our government and our society are nibbling away at our liberty," Bosma, a Republican, said of the Nov. 30 ruling by U.S. District Judge David Hamilton in Indianapolis. "They got a big bite with this one. We have done nothing different here than what's happened for 188 years."

Hamilton ordered Bosma as speaker to instruct leaders of the invocation prayer to use nonsectarian words and refrain from using Jesus' name, title or other denominational appeal. Bosma is seeking to have the order suspended, saying it gives the legislature no clear standard for application.

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels said of the ruling: "It's regrettable."

The criticism crosses party lines. House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer, 61, a Democrat from South Bend who preceded Bosma as speaker, has said he supports an appeal.

June Adams, 80, a retiree from Williamsburg, 75 miles east of Indianapolis, the state capital, said, "Our government was founded on freedom of religion, not freedom from religion."

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit May 31 on behalf of four state residents.

The group's legal director, Kenneth Falk, says the lawsuit stemmed from Clarence Brown, a Baptist church elder, singing "Just a Little Talk with Jesus" after his invocation in the state legislature on April 5.
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Old 12-16-2005, 02:32 AM   #2
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"Our government was founded on freedom of religion, not freedom from religion."
This is my favorite line from the right. They love to say the left twists words, but this is by far the longest stretch of words I've ever seen.
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Old 12-16-2005, 11:26 AM   #3
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Now why is it that having the prayer is permissible, but the government has taken an interest in the substance of the prayer?
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Old 12-16-2005, 11:46 AM   #4
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^Good point.
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Old 12-16-2005, 12:14 PM   #5
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
Now why is it that having the prayer is permissible, but the government has taken an interest in the substance of the prayer?


because part of the reason for the founding of this country, and which is why we do have stuff like "in God we trust," is that it's creation came about as a result of viewing all men as being equal in the eyes of a common Creator and thus capable of governing themselves, that there is no difference, in the eyes of the creator, between the Pharoh and the shephard who smells like sheep shit.

that has nothing, necessarily, to do with Jesus.

the word Jesus is explicitly exclusionary, whereas the vague phrase "God" at least includes all believers, though we don't seem to view atheists as true Americans. but that's another topic. the prayer works under the assumptions that all people from Indiana are Christian, which is not the case.

again, why not be inclusive? why not allow everyone to feel as if the legislature cares about them, too?

and, how would you feel if the California legislature started praying to Zeus before each session?

in fact, my dentist was from Indiana, and he was Jewish, and routinely worried about his physical safety -- in an interesting story, which he told me when i was 18, he told me that i always meant a lot to him as a patient. we have the same initials, but his last name is clearly Jewish. so, whenever he felt uncomfortable disclosing his religion, he would say that his name was my name, i have a swedish last name.
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Old 12-16-2005, 12:18 PM   #6
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Clever, but not pursuasive. If you want to be "inclusive" you would include non-praying people and drop the prayer all together.

I would suggest that government supervision of the substance of a prayer is a violation of the core of the Establishment Clause.

And, the Free Speech rights of the person who is permitted to utter the prayer are also violated. This is a perfect example of prior restraint - a clear cut violation of the First Amendment.
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Old 12-16-2005, 01:18 PM   #7
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
Clever, but not pursuasive. If you want to be "inclusive" you would include non-praying people and drop the prayer all together.

I would suggest that government supervision of the substance of a prayer is a violation of the core of the Establishment Clause.

And, the Free Speech rights of the person who is permitted to utter the prayer are also violated. This is a perfect example of prior restraint - a clear cut violation of the First Amendment.


i'd be more than happy to drop the prayer altogether -- but i would imagine my view would be in the minority.

i am baffled as to how government supervision of the prayer is a violation of the Establishment Clause, when it seems that the prayer itself is a very clear violation of the Establishment Clause. when you pray to Jesus, you're only talking about one religion. don't forget, the clause has been traditionally interpreted as not only the prohibition of a national religion but also the preference of one religion over another; it also defends the government's entry into religious domain to make accommodations in order to achieve the purposes of the Free Exercise Clause. this applies to state governments as well, thanks to the 14th Amendment.

it seems that the government looking into the prayer is constitutional as it is seeking to uphold the Establishment Clause when we have a legislature that is in clear violation of it.
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Old 12-16-2005, 03:08 PM   #8
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Originally posted by Irvine511
i am baffled as to how government supervision of the prayer is a violation of the Establishment Clause, when it seems that the prayer itself is a very clear violation of the Establishment Clause. when you pray to Jesus, you're only talking about one religion. don't forget, the clause has been traditionally interpreted as not only the prohibition of a national religion but also the preference of one religion over another; it also defends the government's entry into religious domain to make accommodations in order to achieve the purposes of the Free Exercise Clause. this applies to state governments as well, thanks to the 14th Amendment.
It is the same principle that applies to free speech. If you are going to give someone a microphone, it is not the government's job to determine what is or is not said in that microphone.

Only when a government regulates content does it start down the path of determining preferences (even for reasons you deem valid).

The speaker should have freedom to choose their own word.
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Old 12-16-2005, 03:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


It is the same principle that applies to free speech. If you are going to give someone a microphone, it is not the government's job to determine what is or is not said in that microphone.

Only when a government regulates content does it start down the path of determining preferences (even for reasons you deem valid).

The speaker should have freedom to choose their own word.


a politician speaking in front of a legislature -- more importantly, leading a legislature as a body in a prayer -- is not speaking for him/herself, he is speaking as a representative firstly of his constituents and secondly as a representative of the legislative body itself. by choosing the word "Jesus" as a government representative, this is a clear case of the speaker establishing a particular religion for the Indiana Legislature. it's also a violation of church and state -- could hardly be more explicit than with the word Jesus.

further, this isn't a case of free speech; this is an elected legislator using his microphone to *practice* a specific religion, thus clearly demonstrating that the Indiana legislature not only endorses one religion over others, but actively practices one religion over others.

the judge was right. "jesus" needs to go.
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Old 12-16-2005, 03:37 PM   #10
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Originally posted by Irvine511
a politician speaking in front of a legislature -- more importantly, leading a legislature as a body in a prayer -- is not speaking for him/herself, he is speaking as a representative firstly of his constituents and secondly as a representative of the legislative body itself. by choosing the word "Jesus" as a government representative, this is a clear case of the speaker establishing a particular religion for the Indiana Legislature. it's also a violation of church and state -- could hardly be more explicit than with the word Jesus.

further, this isn't a case of free speech; this is an elected legislator using his microphone to *practice* a specific religion, thus clearly demonstrating that the Indiana legislature not only endorses one religion over others, but actively practices one religion over others.

the judge was right. "jesus" needs to go.
A politician speaking in front of a legislature is just that - a politician speaking in front of a legislature. It is a mightly leap of logic to "establishment".

And the legislator is speaking, so I'm not sure how they lose their rights of free speech.

And to the extent this is a "practice" of religion, the ACLU would have shut it down. Instead, they wanted the government sanctioned limitation of the word "Jesus".

The judge got it wrong.
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Old 12-16-2005, 03:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


A politician speaking in front of a legislature is just that - a politician speaking in front of a legislature. It is a mightly leap of logic to "establishment".

And the legislator is speaking, so I'm not sure how they lose their rights of free speech.

And to the extent this is a "practice" of religion, the ACLU would have shut it down. Instead, they wanted the government sanctioned limitation of the word "Jesus".

The judge got it wrong.


the legislator didn't get up and say a prayer on his own, he was *leading* the legislature in a prayer that mentioned a specific religion thus conferring state endorsement and preference to one specific religion. this violates the Establishment Clause, as i laid out earlier, and the government has the right to intervene when someone is in clear violation of the Constitution. this is not a free speech issue; this is a freedom of (and from) religion issue.

while a generic prayer is a religious practice, a prayer with the mention of a specific diety -- be it Jesus, Vishnu, Allah, or Zeus -- is tantamount to the legislature practicing one specific religion.

i find it interesting that you think this is someone seeking to persecute the word "Jesus."

the judge got it right. God is one thing, Jesus (or Vishnu, or Achilles, or Thor) is something totally different.
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Old 12-16-2005, 03:50 PM   #12
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This is not leading the legislature, it is one individual's speech. The rest of the body was not repeating the prayer in any way. It is not the government's job to evaluate and restrict the content of such speech.
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Old 12-16-2005, 03:58 PM   #13
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
This is not leading the legislature, it is one individual's speech. The rest of the body was not repeating the prayer in any way. It is not the government's job to evaluate and restrict the content of such speech.


then we see the action in different ways. it is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause. it says in the article that it was a "practice" (there's that word again) for the legislature to open with a prayer, and that prayer used the name of a specific religious figure. if this happens each and every time the legislature meets, it seems that this is the very definition of a ritual, a practice, and one that the entire legislature has agreed to follow; even silence is agreement with the practice. and the practice obviously has a leader, one who's position is not that of a private citizen but that of a representative of the people of Indiana.

i also find your lack of concern with how those of minority religions might view this or be troubled by this or feel excluded and marginalized by hearing the state legislature use the word "Jesus" as it opens its sessions.
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Old 12-16-2005, 04:03 PM   #14
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Originally posted by Irvine511
then we see the action in different ways. it is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause. it says in the article that it was a "practice" (there's that word again) for the legislature to open with a prayer, and that prayer used the name of a specific religious figure. if this happens each and every time the legislature meets, it seems that this is the very definition of a ritual, a practice, and one that the entire legislature has agreed to follow; even silence is agreement with the practice. and the practice obviously has a leader, one who's position is not that of a private citizen but that of a representative of the people of Indiana.

i also find your lack of concern with how those of minority religions might view this or be troubled by this or feel excluded and marginalized by hearing the state legislature use the word "Jesus" as it opens its sessions.
A legistlative practice - a custom. Law and government are filled with them. You are taking one use of the word "practice" and substituting a different meaning for your argument.

If you allow prayer - you should not control its content
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Old 12-16-2005, 04:08 PM   #15
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Originally posted by nbcrusader


A legistlative practice - a custom. Law and government are filled with them. You are taking one use of the word "practice" and substituting a different meaning for your argument.

If you allow prayer - you should not control its content


i understand the distinction you're making, but both is happening here -- the legislature has made it a practice to practice one specific religion. a prayer performed by a legislative body that specifically mentions any diety -- such as Jesus, or Vishnu -- is a violation of the Establishment Clause. as i've laid out before, the government can, should, and does intervene whenever this part of the Constitution is violated as the Indiana Legislature has been doing for 188 years.

i'm just sorry it's taken so long.
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