Lots of talk today about the decision by a federal judge who sided with the Indiana Civil Liberties Union and told the Indiana House of Representatives it could open its sessions with prayer, but not sectarian prayer. (Hat tip to the Indiana Blog Review for all the links.)
Tracy Warner notes, correctly, that the case will continue to be interesting because it represents a fundamental clash between the freedom to practice religion and the freedom not to have a religion imposed on us. He also says Christians don’t have anything to fear from such cases. True, but neither do non-Christians. The House opening with a prayer isn’t exactly rounding up heretics and burning them.
Taking Down Words notes with apparent approval that this is a smackdown of House Speaker Brian Bosma, while The Dogwood Files calls it a loss for the First Amendment. I’d call it a loss for everyone involved. Lots of time, lots of money, lots of posturing on both sides, no real difference in anybody’s life no matter how it finally comes out.
Masson’s Blog does a good job of taking us through some of the wording of the decision and notes that, in pushing Christianity, Bosma went against his own policy. Liberal Indiana thinks the issue is whether all religions have a fair shot at the opening prayer. (I’m not sure about that; as I understand it, the issue isn’t who steps up to the microphone but what is said at the microphone.) Deliberate Chaos suggests slyly that this is a ploy to promote religion by making it forbidden fruit.
My first thought was that somebody — maybe the legislature, maybe the court or, God knows, maybe me — is a little unclear on what prayer is. Most religions believe their god is the only god and that only following the rules of that god will do. People who follow the rules of some other, false god are doomed. As I understand it, the point of praying is to talk to your god and make sure the two of you are straight. Just throwing out words to any god who might be listening is not praying. It’s just talking.