Yes kids, it’s time for another round of YET ANOTHER GOOD EXAMPLE OF WHY STATE AND RELIGION SHOULD NOT MIX!
This week’s example comes from the fine folks at The Washington Times and it deals with the habit of a Board of Supervisors for a county government of opening their meetings with a “nonsectarian” prayer.
According to Dictionary.com, a “nonsectarian prayer” is: Not limited to or associated with a particular religious denomination. Yet the Board of Supervisors for Chesterfield County, Va. are refusing to allow a Wiccan to open a their meetings with a prayer.
A Wiccan priestess wants the Board of Supervisors of Chesterfield County, Va., to add her name to the list of clergy members who say prayers before board meetings.
“I am a witch and I am fine with that,” said Cyndi Simpson, a member of Reclaiming Tradition of Wicca. “I have something good to share, and I think they should let me.”
She has encountered nothing but polite resistance from the county government, which allows nonsectarian prayers at the start of board meetings.
“Chesterfield’s nonsectarian invocations are traditionally made to a divinity that is consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition,” Chesterfield County Attorney Steven Micas told Miss Simpson in a letter denying her request to offer an invocation last month.
“Based upon our review of Wicca, it is neo-pagan and invokes polytheistic deities. Accordingly, we cannot honor your request to be included on the list of religious leaders.”
So, in other words, the prayers are “nonsectarian” as long as they’re based on the Judeo-Christian tradition. Which makes them exactly the opposite of nonsectarian and that would be… say it with me now… sectarian.
This is another example of people claiming one thing and actually doing another. The most common defense raised for having prayers at the opening of government business (whether it be local or national) has been that the prayer is sufficiently nonsectarian enough as to not really be an infraction of the First Amendment. Of course the moment someone of another non-Christian faith challenges this supposed openness by requesting permission to participate we learn the true nature of this practice.
Simply enough it’s to promote Christian beliefs over all others giving the implied endorsement of government to that particular religion. Either open up the opportunity to members of ALL faiths or STOP holding prayer sessions at the start of government meetings. You can’t claim to be nonsectarian and insist on excluding faiths you don’t like.