Religion has been on my mind a bit lately, specifically, the ubiquitous installation of mainstream Christianity in our state institutions in places I would expect them to be absent, if ours was truly a pluralist nation that respected separation of Church and State.
I can’t tell if people are incapable of thinking or compulsively malicious. Or both. I don’t know which gives them more benefit of doubt.
Recently I talked about public and state-sponsored schools teaching biblical creationism. Today, I learned that the Phoenix City Council would rather discontinue their opening meeting prayer than let the incantation be led by members of the Tuscon Satanic Temple.
The Phoenix City Council meetings have a long standing tradition of beginning with a prayer. Prayers in government meetings were challenged and ultimately reviewed by the US Supreme Court. The USSC ruled the prayer was allowed when it was a long-standing tradition, But the prayer had to be interfaith, and so any religious group could come to lead the prayer and none could be refused based on their beliefs or the contents of their incantation.
The Tuscon Satanic Temple applied in December, temple acolytes Michelle Shortt and Stu de Haan were expected to lead the morning Phoenix City Council benediction on February 17, 2016. It was on.
Until the meeting this Wednesday (the 3rd) teeming with public participants and outrage. It was a torches-and-pitchforks day. Pastor Darlene Vasquez sobbed at the microphone I want those who believe in the one true God to pray. It breaks my heart to hear what is going on.
It was decided (5 to 4) continuing the long-standing Phoenix City Council tradition was not worth the risk of divine cataclysm or the calling of eldritch forces that might have resulted from letting the Satanists pray for a state function. Instead, from now on, a moment of silence will be observed at the beginning of Phoenix City Council meetings so that council members can pray to themselves.
Apparently, a quote from Jefferson regarding the freedom of religion has been circulating, as a result of the big Donald Trump vs. Muslims hubbub. It’s valid here: Regarding the law (as Jefferson wrote it): Within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.
England’s history was assuredly of some inspiration to Jefferson. England featured two popular religions (Roman Catholicism, the Church of England) in one state. English monarchs would endorse only one of those religions at a time, and sanctioned the persecution of those who identified with the other. Which was which could change with the reign, which kept things exciting like a George R. R. Martin epic. Those tensions continued into the twentieth century with the Troubles, in which the conflict still split down Protestant / Catholic lines into the 1990s.
The peace in Northern Ireland remains uneasy.
Jefferson and Madison didn’t want troubles here in the US. And yet they were already astir with the colonies establishing state religions because that’s just how it was done. It was time to nip that bullshit in the bud.
Peace for us denominational infidels remains uneasy.