The Supreme Court screwed up, and almost half of the justices know it.
In Galloway versus Greece, the Court upheld state-sponsored prayer, such as religious readings held before public or government meetings.
The vote two weeks ago showed their indecision, 5-4.
Essentially, the court decided that sectarian prayers led by a town councilman, for example, do not violate the Constitution.
On the surface, that doesn't sound too bad. It actually sounds nice. But here's the key.
The well-intended, conservative judges also said no favoritism should be shown to any specific religion. Of course they said it. They had to say it. Naturally.
We have religious freedom in this country. The opportunity for words of prayer, or messages of belief, must be open to all religions equally at a government meeting. It's only fair. If you're going to allow one, you've got to allow all. You can't deny a request. Here's how they put it:
"The Court instructed that the 'content of the prayer is not of concern to judges,' provided 'there is no indication that the prayer opportunity has been exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief.'"
Pow! The floodgates just opened.
Sir Isaac Newton taught us that for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. The court took action. Let's sit back and watch the reactions. They've already begun.
On Friday, it was announced a Florida town must open a meeting with a satanic prayer or else violate the Supreme Court ruling.
Resident Chaz Stevens has asked the city council of Deerfield Beach for the opportunity to open a meeting with a prayer to his God. Stevens is a Satanist. Here's his request:
"With the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing 'prayer before commission meetings' and seeking the rights granted to others, I hereby am requesting I be allowed to open a commission meeting praying for my God, my divine spirit, my 'Dude in Charge.' Be advised, I am a Satanist. Let me know when this is good for you."
Stevens is serious.
"I just want equal billing," he said. "We allow various religious nutjobs to give a prayer. They pray to Jesus who is make-believe, god who is make-believe, why not Satan who is make-believe? Why discriminate against one make-believe god over another? Satan and I are being circumvented. The city of Deerfield Beach has once again declared war on religion and this time it's Satanism."
Justice Elena Kagan was one of four who opposed the ruling. She explained why. Guest chaplains, she said, "put some residents to the unenviable choice of either pretending to pray like the majority or declining to join its communal activity, at the very moment of petitioning their elected leaders."
In other words, prayer at a secular public meeting, although well-intended, has potential to alienate.
As one resident put it: "Why do I have to fake praying in order to request a roof permit?"
Expect a stampede of diversity where people of minority faiths will look to be represented at local government meetings. Everybody will want their share of air time. And why not? It's their government, too.
Even atheists are getting into the act. This from the Freedom From Religion Foundation: "Freethinkers: It's time to crash the party, to ask for equal time to give our own atheist homilies and freethought invocations at local board meetings."
For many, prayer is precious. Everybody should have the right to do it. But the concept of proselytizing to captive audiences is wrong. In fact, that's why we stopped pushing it on public school students, where youngsters of many faiths were once forced to pray and take part in one specific religion to the exclusion of all others. It was unfair and inherently wrong. Let's not go down that same road with public meetings.
Expect this mess to find its way back to the Supremes, which is a good thing.
They really need to sit down and try to understand the concept of separation of church and state. Five of the Supremes are badly out of tune.
Our Constitution is secular. It was done that way on purpose and for a reason.