Your Voice: When good men do nothing
by Wes Huffman, Tracy
Jul 17, 2009 | 1316 views | 24 24 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
EDITOR,

It is presumptuous of me to include myself in the “good men” group, so maybe I’ll just go with the “trying to be good men” group. I was going to skip writing about the prayer for the City Council event, but then I wouldn’t even be in the “trying to be good men” group.

All efforts to do good and help others to do good should be applauded and encouraged. That is what the invocation does for our community and its leaders, so there needs to be a really good reason if we are not going to do it.

So far I have heard three reasons: An anonymous citizen, a member of a Wisconsin group who tries to keep anyone from listening to an invocation before council meetings, has said we should stop. A city attorney said we should stop to avoid a lawsuit. And the Tracy Press editorial board says we should stop because it’s time.

These reasons are not good enough for me. Not to offend any of you, but maybe we could use the sun-colored rule in this case. I’ll let you not pray when it is your turn, and you let me pray when it is my turn. Everyone may sign up at his or her earliest convenience.
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anonymous
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July 20, 2009
I agree with what the last commentor said.

http://www.tracypress.com/printer_friendly/2983282

I really liked another article that responded to the Tracy Press

====================================

"

Your Voice: Reprehensible defense of kooks

by Earl Jess, Tracy

07.18.09 - 12:30 am

EDITOR,

I think the Tracy Press’ stance on defending the bunch of kooks from Wisconsin (Our Voice, July 11, “Sanctioned prayer not a part of council’s duty”) is reprehensible.

This country was founded on Christian beliefs and practices. If you are Muslim, agnostic or atheist, then don’t participate; simply walk out of the room.

We don’t tell you how to conduct your meetings, so don’t tell us how to conduct ours. If we want to have a Christian prayer prior to our meetings and you don’t like it, tough.

In my opinion, the same holds true with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or singing our National Anthem. If you don’t want to participate, then don’t, but don’t condemn us for doing so.

It’s a sad state of affairs when some off-the-wall minority group can start dictating to us what we can or can’t do at City Council meetings

"
JimF01
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July 20, 2009
That is what the vast, vast majority of people in Tracy are thinking as well, shelly.

But three people from Tracy and their atheist friends from Wisconsin making noise make it headline news: a "hot topic" and "a fight over the separation of church and state in Tracy". The editorializing that TP sometimes does in their "news" articles is shameless.

shelly13
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July 19, 2009
If the Supreme Court has in fact already ruled on this....why are we even talking about it?

Again, if an invocation is open to whomever, but the majority of speakers have been Chrisitan, who's fault is that? Uh, that would be the other faiths and non-faiths that have not volunteered. Don't b**ch if you or your demographic haven't volunteered.
ProBono
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July 19, 2009
anonymous

Did you bother to read the above letter? This isn't about your obsession against city hall.
anonymous
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July 19, 2009
The religious bias towards one religion is already established from our council - They have a valid case against the elected leaders.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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July 19, 2009
Careful zrazy, seems ta me yer treadin on thin ice here an I don’t want cha ta get yerself in trouble with God here.

"The ECKist aspires to live by the highest attributes: total awareness, responsibility, and spiritual freedom. The ECKist acts within the laws of man while placing attention upon the worlds of God, and serving a useful function in society fulfilling commitments to family, employer and country. The ECKist accepts full personal responsibility for all his decisions and acts."

"Eckankar acknowledges the important role of other religions and recognized religious leaders. Members are expected to respect the privacy and beliefs of others when discussing religious matters." http://www.xploreheartlinks.com/eckankar.htm

With respect ta law’s of man ya say ya act within, currently it ain't against th law ta have an invocation at a City Counsel meetin, even usin tha lemon test ya mention. Don’t ferget, yer interpretation of law isn’t the interpretation of everyone an certainly no one consults ya when the Supreme Court decides invocations in City Counsel meetins are legal. Is what yer doin actually livin up to yer beliefs stated above? It don’t appear that way ta me.

It also don't seem yer acknowledgin other religions an recognized religious leaders that differ with yer opinion on the subject of invocations in meetins like City Counsel. Don’t ferget some members of Counsel just might fall under tha term “religious leaders.” After all, they have some religious affiliation too an very well could be viewed upon by their religious peers as religious leaders as well. What about acknowledging their religions and beliefs? Or does it go part and parcel with other religious doctrines that basically tell tha rest of the world, “We are the only people who can determine what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s legal and what’s not, follow our teachins an reject anythin we don’t believe in?”

Hey, don’t get yerself frosted because I come back at ya with these questions. Ya posted yer beliefs here, I simply looked em up on one of yer church's official sites. So please don't blame me if yer not practicin what ya preach.

Seems ta me someone with yer beliefs would welcome invocations, especially if ya think they are designed ta bring people closer ta God, which I don't believe that is the purpose of an invocation anyway. It’s to ask God fer his assistance in helpin our leaders to make good decisions fer our community. That ain’t promotin one religion over another no matter how ya slice the cake.

Seems to me ya got yer own ax ta grind here.

Check it out dude, ya believe what ya want ta believe an we'll believe what we want ta believe. Stop leviying yer obviously "more elightned" opinion ya place on others by practicin what yer religion claims ta stand for. Like livin within th laws of man an "serving a useful function in society fulfilling commitments to family, employer and country." My friend, that statement of belief also includes City Counsel meetins.

An when ya, a minority of one, come ta tell the rest of the people they are wrong if they don't agree with ya, specially on matters of legality of a public invocation at a City Counsil meetin, ya suddently become the largest hypocrite of th bunch here on this blog.

Now if ya want ta have yer chance ta give an invocation, askin God fer his help in such matters, an not trin to convert anyone ta yer beliefs, I got no problem with it an doubt th City would reject yer request.

So, what’s the real problem here bub, not getting enough personal attention? Better get yerself right with God by practicin what ya claim to believe on that en don’t cha think?

JimF01
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July 19, 2009
zrazy thanks for your info on the Lemon test from 1971. Chief Justice Burger wrote the majority opinion in that case, and then he wrote the opinion in Marsh vs Chambers in 1983, the applicable Supreme Court case for invocations in government meetings.

That decision OK'd such prayer and invocation, and in fact OK'd the practice of paying a chaplain to carry out the duty. The Congress of the United States has been doing this for 200 years and it is legal and supported by the vast, vast majority of Americans. Three Tracy residents and the frff rabble rousers aren't going to change things.
why?
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July 19, 2009
When they have been advised by legal council that they are in violation of the law, and they choose to ignore the law.

The mistake is having this group of elected leaders making policy and breaking laws.
anonymous
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July 19, 2009
Did you mean to imply that the founding fathers made a mistake?

anonymous
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July 19, 2009
What mistake? Our defective leaders have never admitted making mistakes or errors! I truly think it is their mission statement is "Never admit anything, right or wrong".
anonymous
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July 19, 2009
zrazy,

"Scholars also differ on the importance of the Lemon Test (and tests in general) as a guide to judicial choices."

zrazy
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July 19, 2009
How has the lemon test gone sour? ( I really like that turn of phrase. Well said). What evidence can you provide to support that claim?

I will retract the slavery comment and give you that point.

I will provide you with a list of cases that support my entanglement claim but I am taking the family out for the day. I will return.
anonymous
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July 19, 2009
I think the lemon test you have provided has gone sour. By recognition, I presume you mean that "respecting a religion", which is a not the case.

Simply mutating an open invitation into what you caleld "entanglement" holds little water either.

And, an out of scope reference is still that, a poor example.
zrazy
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July 19, 2009
We are not discussing recognizing other religions. We are talking about government entanglement with religion. Invocations before city council meetings does not pass the Lemon Test if they refer to specific religions or religious figures.

My reference to slavery is an extreme example of the will of the majority of the rights of the minority but it proves that our government can make mistakes and then correct them. It has the opportunity to correct a mistake and should take it.
anonymous
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July 19, 2009
An invitation to all proves recognition. The will of the majority is that invokations are open to all. And using overtones of slavery to mutate the scope of this conversation into something as horrible as causing physical pain and suffering proves you are clearly off the MARK.
zrazy
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July 19, 2009
How many reasons would you require to prove that slavery is wrong? How many reasons do you require to prove that all adults should have the right to vote?

Tracy is one town but it is made up more than one community. You and our government needs to reflect that there are many different people with a variety of beliefs. Again, the will of the majority should not override the rights of the minority.

anonymous
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July 19, 2009
zrazy,

You really only gave ONE reason. That is ONE member. And admittadely, ONE person does not represent a group of people [plural] in Tracy because you are the only ONE. Aren't you ONE who is being silly representing ONE person in Tracy who refuses to participate within ONE community?
zrazy
|
July 19, 2009
Regardless of the name you choose to give the practice, it should stop for the reasons I stated. I come back to the majority vs. the minority. Even if the people of Tracy vote as you suggest, and it passes in favor of the invocation, it would still be unconstitutional based on the Lemon Test. Just because the majority wants it, does not make it right.
shelly13
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July 18, 2009
The city is doing an invocation...it is not termed a prayer. However, whomever volunteers can do a prayer if they want or choose something else.

If it is truly open to all...they can't b*tch if they have chosen not to volunteer.

If they do not feel they have been represented, then they should volunteer.

Maybe we, the people of the city should vote whether or not to have our city council do an invocation before a meeting. If voted down, they stop. If we vote yes, then take turns and for those who are b**chin, get over there and represent!
zrazy
|
July 18, 2009
As a card carrying member of "th modern day enlightened liberal politically correct thinkin mind" club, I feel it my duty to represent our side in this open and public forum. Our founding fathers followed a wide range of philosophies when they crafted our government. The rule of law, separation of powers, individual property rights, free markets, and the separation of church and state.

They were very religious and most believed that Christian morality was the proper guide to hold American society together. But they also did not want to follow Europe’s example by including state sponsored religion in the Constitution. There were two reasons why. They did not want religion interfering with the government, and, more importantly, they did not want the government interfering with religion.

Fast forward to 1971 and the ruling by the Supreme Court in Lemon vs. Kurtzman (Google this case for more info). The Supreme Court created a Lemon Test which consisted of three parts which determine if a government action promotes or “establishes” religion. The third step stipulates that “The government's action must not result in an ‘excessive government entanglement’ with religion." Prayers before the Tracy City Council qualifies as excessive entanglement because all of the religions that the citizens of the United States subscribe to are not represented.

You may say that all religions are invited to invoke and pray before the meetings. I personally have accepted Eckankar has my religious creed but I believe I am the only practitioner of said belief in Tracy. Rather than take the council’s precious time with a prayer that only I will partake in, I will pray in the comfort and safety of my home.

Now, another fundamental belief of our founding fathers, was that the majority would not trample on the rights of the minority (I will take slavery as a big mistake that the founding fathers let slip by the Constitution). Though the system of separation of powers and checks and balances, the founding fathers laid the framework that would ensure the rights of the minority against the will of the majority; which is why the Lemon Test was created. It is totally unrealistic to expect all religions to invoke before the city council meeting, and so no religion should invoke.

Please pray at home or at church and not before the Tracy City government.


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