The unanimous decision of our country's top court declaring the reciting of a prayer at council meetings infringes on the freedom and conscience of religion, has sent a ripple effect across our nations and our communities of faith.
'The state much remain neutral in this regard.' These words attached to the Supreme Court decision trouble me. One has to wonder if 'neutrality' is a valid basis for decision making; as if we can make decisions from a values-free perspective. I wonder if it is even possible to be truly neutral. All decision making is driven by the values we hold. Could it be this decision by the court is driven more by the value of tolerance than that of neutrality or even 'freedom of religion'? Could it be that is more about freedom from religion that freedom of religion? I wonder how a simple prayer at council meeting infringes on another's religious freedom; the very thought of it is nonsense to me. How difficult is it to sit or stand quietly and be respectful and courteous?
But putting aside any political agenda that may be driving this recent decision or trying to speculate about it, the fact is the announcement this week has already impacted many towns and cities across Canada. Some have already ceased the practice of praying before their meetings and others have indicated they will re-evaluate their practices in light of the Supreme Court decision.
People of faith are lamenting the loss of prayer in government meetings; going the way of prayer in our schools. We fear where it all may be leading; this continued move away from the Judeo-Christian heritage upon which our nation was founded. Already there is a stream of emails making their way into our inboxes! I for one do not need to receive another forwarded email! Is there a place for such sharing of thoughts and ideas? Absolutely! Is there a place for editorials and even protests? Again I would respond, absolutely! But...is there a better way?
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, as the temple is built and dedicated to the Lord, God speaks to His people: if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.