Atheist Prayer and Government Meetings

It’s not uncommon for legislative bodies – federal, state or local – to open their sessions with an invocation or prayer. And while many of these bodies do make an effort to allow people of faiths other than Christian to give the opening prayer, groups often left out are the atheists, secularists and other non believers.
 
The Supreme Court ruled in May of 2014 that prayers – even prayers that favor a specific religion – given before opening of a legislative session do not violate the constitution.
 
Justice Kennedy wrote:

“Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this Nation
was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government,
which to me is a pleasant way of saying, “there’s more Christians than you atheists, so nyah.”
 
Even with the Court’s decision, however, the matter isn’t going away.
 
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a legal challenge to the Pensylvania House of Representatives’ use of prayer to open a session is being heard in court.
 
The issue has been brought up by a group of atheists who say they’ve petitioned for, and been denied, the right to give an invocation to open the governing body’s sessions.
 
Some members of the House say their exclusion of nonbelievers is covered under the state’s constitution, which says that those giving the invocation would be members of a “regularly established church or religious institution.”
 
While the argument that atheists by and large aren’t members of a “regularly established church or religious institution” there are plenty of recognized churches that are atheistic, such as the Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple. It would seem the House would be on shaky legal ground if they denied a member of these churches the right to give the opening prayer.
 
And really, what’s the harm in letting someone of a different faith or someone of no faith say a few words before your meeting. If your faith is strong enough, then it shouldn’t bother you. This seems more about discriminating against a certain group than it does about upholding the law or the constitution. I don’t know if these people are afraid we atheists are going to get up and sacrifice a chicken to Beelzebub or what.
 
But it shouldn’t matter, anyway. There’s no good reason today to open a government meeting with an appeal to some invisible “higher authority” when there’s no solid evidence such an authority exists. The fact that government is so often screwed up and ineffective is proof enough that appealing to a god isn’t doing any good.
 
I serve on a small board here in town, and thankfully we don’t open our sessions with prayer. The only religious aspect comes when swearing someone in and they’re asked to tell the truth “so help me god,” which still makes me cringe.
 
I think the only appropriate invocation one should utter before any board or committee meeting is, “Let’s get this shit over with.”

The End Of The World As We Know It or Please Tell Me I’m Wrong

I’m just going to come out and say it; Trump is going to fuck this world and there ain’t nothing we can do about it.

That sounds like I’m being hyperbolic, but I’m not. I believe with every ounce of belief I can muster that this could be the end of everything.

I could be wrong; I probably am. As stated in a previous post, I’m not that bright. Still, I have a notion of where I think this administration is going to take us and it’s not going to be pleasant.

Here’s what I think, and please feel free to save this post so you can throw it back at me someday to show me how wrong I was, which I hope is the case.

I believe Steve Bannon when he said that he wants to tear down the system. If you look at what this administration is doing now, and how quickly they’re doing it, it appears that destabilizing the United States and the rest of the planet is the main agenda.

I argued with people during the election who advocated for a disruption of the system, whether that came from Bernie Sanders or from Trump, and my argument is, if the system comes crashing down, there’s no telling what’s going to take its place. I think some people believe that we could replace the current system with one that’s fair and more geared toward the people rather than the corporations. That could happen, but I think it’s a long shot if the U.S. is in shambles.

What is more likely to happen is that if America collapses, and the world collapses, people will be so desperate for a savior, that it’s almost a given that a far right, Christian dictator would rise up with promises of salvation. The people would embrace this savior with open arms, constitution be damned.

I only know of Bannon what I’ve read, but seeing how much this administration is pandering to the religious, this could be the end game. Get us to a point of utter desparation and deliver unto us a savior wrapped in the flag and carrying a bible.

Hell, there are plenty of people who want that right now.

To be fair, Trump is a monster, but he seems only concerned about his ego – his brand – and not much else. He can’t give a speech that doesn’t wind up being about him. No, Trump is a tool, and Bannon is the carpenter.

So how could we get there?

From the looks of things as they stand now, we could either get into a war with China, Iran or Mexico or all three. Could be trade wars or wars with bombs. I’m curious if our economy could sustain, say a trade war with China and a physical war with Iran at the same time. And you can bet if things get that dicey for us, they’re likely to get dicey for the rest of the planet as well because if America is to busy dealing with our problems, who’s keeping watch on everything else going on? Who’s going to intervene if Russia decides to make a massive land grab? Who’s going police tensions between a nuclear India and a nuclear Pakistan? Who’s going to stop North Korea from taking South Korea?

I saw an interview on Bill Maher’s show with Richard Haass who is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He said something to the effect that the systems that are in place have been working more or less to keep things sane (relatively) for decades, and to undo those systems would be catastrophic.

It looks like this administration is trying to undo those systems.

As I said, I probably don’t know what I’m talking about, and everything’s probably going to be fine.

Still, it might be a good time to stock up on canned goods, water and survival gear just to be safe.