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Archive for May 2014

Next Council Meeting: Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 St. Anthony’s Rectory 7:30 P.M.

AGENDA

Report on donation of (2) Wheelchairs to the VA Hospital on 23rd Street in Manhattan.

Plans for the Parish Bar-B-Que at St. Anthony’s in June

Plans for a First Degree at St. Stan’s Post in early June

Nomination of Council Officers for the coming year.

Supreme Court Rules: Government Does Not Get To Write Our Prayers

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

A Message from the Executive Director Monday, May 12, 2014

Dear Friends, There is no such thing as an anti-religion heckler’s veto. That’s what last week’s landmark ruling from the Supreme Court meant. The Court said that just because you are offended by someone else’s faith does not give you the right to silence them or dictate how they profess their views.

When I wrote to you last week, all eyes were on the Supreme Court. Everyone was watching and waiting to see how they would rule in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway. This was going to be the first time the Supreme Court directly ruled on legislative prayer in decades. While this case concerned one small town in New York, what it was really about was whether this is still a country that welcomes and embraces its religious diversity or if it has become one that treats religion as toxic and tries to drive it out of public life. The stakes in this case were so high.

America is probably the most religiously diverse nation in the world! Take a drive through most American suburbs and you will see a Baha’i house of worship just a few blocks from a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or an Orthodox basilica. America is a place where people of faith are not afraid to show their bona fides because we aren’t afraid of each other. People come here from all backgrounds because they want to be themselves in the open without being afraid. We can disagree without fighting each other. We can live alongside one other despite our differences.

Beginning legislative sessions in a way that allows prayers from different faiths is about affirming that, that our laws respect religious difference. In the Town of Greece case, the other side wanted government to mandate vaguely theistic prayers to try to make the majority happy, as if religious expression is something generic and pre-packaged. But thankfully the Court rejected that idea, and reminded America that our rights are actually about protecting authentic faith. The majority doesn’t get to silence the minority in this country. And anti-faith activists don’t get to write the prayers of faith leaders in order to assure that everything is monotone and generic. There is no faith speech police here.

As our own Eric Rassbach told the press: “As a people we will always have disagreements about religion but that reality cannot be used as an excuse to banish religious activity entirely from public life. The Founders recognized that prayer is not a trivial matter, but plays a central role in the life of our nation. All the Court did today is repeat what the Founders said so many years ago.” Slowly we are chipping away towards a better understanding of the First Amendment, one that affirms that citizens don’t have to abandon their faith to participate in public life, and one that makes sure that hurt feelings don’t give you the right to mute another person. Sincerely,