The US Supreme Court is back in session and has a few tough cases on the docket. One of those could have a big consequence for local government.
Separation of church and state has come before the Supreme Court in years past, but the latest case could declare prayer in city council meetings unconstitutional.
"We pray before our city council meetings in Clarksburg and we say the pledge of allegiance, which makes reference to a god," said Vice Mayor of the Clarksburg City Council, Gary Bowden. "I certainly think we have the right to do that."
The complaint comes from two women in a small town in upstate New York, who claim they "should not have to endure religious indoctrination" to be a part of town government. However that view is not shared locally.
Bowden said, "I don't think a couple of people who feel uncomfortable about that should dictate what the majority believes is the right thing to do.
The Supreme Court has ruled before that a government cannot endorse one particular religious view, but the Court often leans on the side of tradition, and many local residents think their councils should stick to their traditions.
"We would probably go ahead and do it anyway, you know, until they actually came in and stopped us," said Superintendent of the Burnsville Town Council, Harley Mace when asked what he would do if the Supreme Court declared the prayers unconstitutional.
"The Lord leads us through everything, and the prayer in the council meetings is wonderful," Mace said.
Marsha Bierystone said she agrees. "I certainly think there should be [prayer] if the people at that council meeting desire to have prayer," she said. "I think we have, in this country, a right to have prayer as much as people who don't want to participate in prayer."
Bowden said it was ironic that this is an issue at a time when the government seems so disorganized.
"We've got states that can't pay their bills and municipalities going bankrupt," he said. "In my mind, if there were ever a time when we needed to appeal to a divine authority for a little guidance and inspiration it's right now."
It is unclear how the Court will rule on this issue as the trial date is not even set yet, but it is clear that residents of North Central West Virginia are not going to let prayer be taken out of any aspect of their lives.
Nov 02, 2013 at 1:26 PMAre you commenters kidding me??? Christians, or any other religious group, does NOT have the right to force their beliefs on the rest of the population. This is a COMPLETE misuse and abuse of government power to be holding religious ceremonies during a GOVERNMENT meeting.
No one is telling christians they can't pray. There are churches all over the place. You can pray silently whenever you want. You could pray a hundred times a day if you so wanted... What you CANNOT do is force your religion on other people, ESPECIALLY by way of using your government position to hold prayers at an official government meeting... This is absolutely outrageous. You're complaining that you're not able to use government to force your religious beliefs on others... How would you like it if we held Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, etc. prayers at the government meeting? How would you like it if you were forced to sit through the indoctrination of religious beliefs you do not hold in order to participate in your government? You people are delusional to not realize YOU are the ones forcing your beliefs on others.
Oct 10, 2013 at 8:03 AMI agree with Bowden and Mace 100% it's time Christians stand up for what they believe, if there are some that don't feel comfortable then don't do it, but don't take it away from those that do. We may not feel comfortable with those that don't believe but we're not trying to change them.
Oct 10, 2013 at 7:30 AMThese types of stories aggrevate me to the core. Why do people feel the need to take such extreme measures to change the rules so that their beliefs can be accomodated? I am sick & tired of this! If you don't believe in God or you don't like to pray then here's a simple solution...DON'T PARTICIPATE! See? Problem solved! You think it violates your rights because others around you pray, so you find it necessary to have laws changed? Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. You have no right to force your religious beliefs, or lack thereof, onto me.
Oct 10, 2013 at 6:11 AMWe'll see if these 'justices' have any common sense than to allow a couple of nuts in NY rule over the majority. The nuts are crawling out of the woodwork. And the spineless politicians, judges keep catering to fools.