Should Christian prayer be favored by Congress?
Does someone have to be a Christian to offer a prayer in a state or federal capitol building?
Can a non-Christian offer prayers but they must be Christian in nature or not hint of their own religion?I bring this up because a Hindu cleric named Rajan Zed, while offering a prayer in the federal capitol building, was interrupted by protestors.
Was his prayer Hindu in nature?
No, it was a basically general prayer that talked about a Supreme being. If one didn’t know better, this might have been a non-denominational prayer by a Methodist, a Luthern or even a rabbi.
The fact is that our government cannot say that only Christian clerics can give a prayer in a capital building. James Madison, who voted against a Congressional chaplain but was overruled, would be aghast at the idea that the government could favor only Christian prayers.
There is a case that the government shouldn’tâ have chaplains at all. That congressmen can easily go to any church that is in the D.C. area. That the government shouldn’t be leading prayers on C-SPAN. But if there are prayers, then the government can’t say, “well, only Christian prayers or only prayers given by Christians.”
Some Christians have objected to clerics who have been revoked from being able to give prayers in the future, such as the case of a chaplain who prayed at the beginning of a session of a state legislature and was banned from giving future prayers.
But, he gave a prayer that was political in nature and took a position on certain culture issues, such as homosexuality.
Now, it is perfectly OK to take a position on homosexuality, but no one has a free exercise right to use the privilege of being granted the ability to pray before a state legislature or federal capitol to support a political position of theirs even if the political position comes from a religious belief.
If they had such a right then a humanist would have a right to advocate for humanism before a governmental session or a capitalist to extoll the glories of the free market.
On another issue, some state that one of the reasons that the Bush era surgeon general nominee, James Holsinger was opposed by some senators and groups is because he is a Methodist.
That is not true. Virtually all political appointees in this country are Christians. They call themselves Christians. The opposition to him comes in large extent from his anti-homosexual position and if he had this same position on homosexuality and was an atheist or a Hindu then it would not matter.
And indeed, of those who say that Holsinger is being opposed because of his religious views, would they themselves every seriously consider a secular humanist for such a high office?
Of if they would consider such a person, would they discount his/her views on policy matters?
The religious views of any office holder don’t matter, but their policy positions do matter, no matter if they are formed from a religious view point, a humanist position, an atheist position, or any other ideology or belief system.