Well, Of Course They Did

In a stunning 5-4 ruling along partisan lines, the Supreme Court today began chipping away at the separation of church and state:

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a town in upstate New York did not violate the Constitution by starting its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month” who was almost always Christian.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that divided the court’s more conservative members from its liberal ones, said the prayers were merely ceremonial. They were neither unduly sectarian nor likely to make members of other faiths feel unwelcome.

“Ceremonial prayer,” he wrote, “is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define.”

In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the town’s practices could not be reconciled “with the First Amendment’s promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share of her government.”

Town officials in Greece, N.Y., near Rochester, said that members of all faiths, and atheists, were welcome to give the opening prayer. In practice, however, almost all of the chaplains were Christian. Some of their prayers were explicitly sectarian, with references, for instance, to “the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.”

How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

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175 replies
  1. 1
    NCSteve says:

    To the FSM with a disdainful smirk?

  2. 2
    Joel says:

    Looking forward to participations from the Pastafarians and the Church of the SubGenius.

  3. 3
    Trollhattan says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    I suggest beginning: “I like big butts, I cannot lie.”

    The Roberts Court is quite the old boys club.

  4. 4
    Ruckus says:

    “We are gathered here, the children of each other…”

  5. 5
    jerry rosen says:

    Dp like the UU’s: To Whom It May Concern…

  6. 6
    dedc79 says:

    And for those counting, that’s five Christians voting with the majority, and 3 Jews and 1 Christian in the minority.

    It’s almost as if those who find themselves in the religious majority have a far lower sensitivity toward what might constitute religious coercion than those who find themselves in the minority.

  7. 7
    El Caganer says:

    Why, with style, with panache, with a certain whimsical humor undergirded by sneering contempt. How else?

  8. 8
    different-church-lady says:

    There’s no way in hell this is going to stand up to a supreme court challeng’…. oh, wait….

  9. 9
    charluckles says:

    Who the hell are these guys to decide whether these prayers will make members of other faiths feel welcome? I mean it must be a total coincidence that all of these guys belong to the dominant faith?

  10. 10

    I hate godbotherers of all kinds, especially the ones in the majority who have a persecution complex.
    For the first time in history the godbotherers in India may get a majority on their own. I am crossing all my paws, that they do not.

  11. 11
    skeeball says:

    Paging Lucien Greaves. This sounds like a job for the Church of Satan

  12. 12
    Ash Can says:

    I’d like to see a bunch of atheists and satanists get together and deluge that town council with requests to lead the opening prayer, then, when they’re inevitably turned down, sue the ever-loving shit out of that burg.

  13. 13

    This thread needs a respite from the crazy, it needs a wise kitteh!

  14. 14
    Rosalita says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    “A man walks into a bar…”

  15. 15
    Warren Terra says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    I could come up with some ideas about this: a short address thanking providence for the human capacity for rational thought and thanking the great minds of the past for beating back ignorance and for explaining their ideas and encouraging us to weigh those ideas and to come up with our own might work.

    But that isn’t even the point as I see it. Sure, some enormously brave person might be willing to stand alone in the center of the town meeting and insist that their Atheist, Agnostic, or unusual Religious beliefs be granted some time, proclaiming it to their neighbors on this one occasion, in return for having the majority faith taught to them with official imprimatur the rest of the time. But: note I said “enormously brave”, and I meant it. This woul be a hard thing to do, and it would be easier by far to conform. The beauty of the Establishment Clause is that the use of the State’s authority to make it uncomfortable not to be a Christian, or for that matter some particular type of Christian is a no-no. Except that this 5-4 decision carves out one more space where the power of the state will be used to make it harder and more uncomfortable not to fall in line behind Jesus.

  16. 16
    dubo says:

    “Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that divided the court’s more conservative members from its liberal ones, said the prayers were merely ceremonial.”

    :drudgesiren: Supreme Court rules that Christians are largely hypocrites who don’t actually believe or take seriously anything they say in prayer :drudgesiren:

  17. 17
    KG says:

    These were always the kind of Constitutional Law cases that I hated. Lots of city council/state legislature/congressional sessions start with a prayer (not to mention the inauguration). It’s dumb but it’s also something that people do. If they’re going to happen, it should be as nondenominational as possible, but I don’t understand why either side cares enough to see this to the Supreme Court. And I say this as a former catholic current agnostic borderline deist.

  18. 18
    shelley says:

    5-4 ruling. Quelle surprise.
    ******
    If the whole prayer thing is just ‘ceremonial’ then why bother dragging it all the way to the frigging Supreme Court? Somebody must of felt it was damn important.

  19. 19
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Ash Can: And Jews and Muslims. And Sikhs. And….

  20. 20
    JGabriel says:

    NY Times:

    They were neither unduly sectarian nor likely to make members of other faiths feel unwelcome…

    … said none of the non-christians on the bench.

    Seriously, how do you defend arguing that the prayers are not unduly sectarian (Christian) if you can’t even get either of the two Jewish members of the court to join your opinion?

    The Conservative wing of the court is shameless.

  21. 21
    japa21 says:

    @dubo: Good point. Imagine the uproar if Obama, at the national day of prayer breakfast was heard saying that prayers are mostly ceremonial and don’t really convey a religious point.

  22. 22
    Brian R. says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    Reminds me of Anatole France’s line: “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.”

  23. 23

    The “ceremonial” setting of precedent to be further exploited to protect those poor Xtians that are “under attack”.

  24. 24
    🌷 Martin says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    “Get the fuck back to work. This isn’t a church.”

  25. 25
    Pogonip says:

    “Oh Lord, even though I am sure you do not exist–uh–um–psst! Rabbi, what do I say next?”

  26. 26
    Belafon says:

    My suggestion: When they start the prayer, start singing the national anthem. When they tell you to stop, tell them this is the only worship that should be occurring at a public meeting.

  27. 27
    Sherparick says:

    Actually, as I read this opinion, they are not going to be invited to lead such prayers. I expect all the Church Establishmentarians, particularly the Evangelicals and the Catholics will celebrate this giant FU to all those non-Christians and non-religious in the body politic. Its a great message to let them know they are “second class” as citizens. It will be interesting the reaction down the road as the more sectarian prayers get said, and the Catholics beseech the Holy Virgin Mary for intercessions and the Evangelical preacher to say something that would set Catholics teeth on edge, and you will both sides starting to march off to religious war.

  28. 28
    PIGL says:

    I think it’s now just a matter of which side first declares the 2nd Republic. The GOP, who been busily creating one since the Bush years, or a Democratic President….to ask the question is to answer it.

  29. 29

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    Blessed are the cheese makers..

  30. 30
    BGinCHI says:

    I would just read from the screenplay of The Big Lebowski.

    Or maybe some Nietzsche if I was in a grumpy mood.

  31. 31
    dedc79 says:

    So, say you’re a member of a religious minority or an atheist and you’re living in Greece, NY. You happen to have recently been the victim of an act of religious discrimination and you go to the next town council meeting to raise the issue. Before the meeting starts, however, a prayer is recited that talks all about Jesus Christ and the cross and so forth. And all the members of the town council are reciting the prayer and so is nearly everyone in the audience. How likely are you to speak up at that point? What would give you any reason to believe you’ll be given a fair hearing by the council?

  32. 32
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    Dear Abortion President,

    Please use your monarch-like powers to protect us, feed us, clothe us and house us. Wield the mighty hammer of taxation upon our enemies as we seek to have unprotected and non-consensual anal sex with them. Bless and strengthen our efforts to create a one-world government that you shall reign over forever and ever.

    In Benghazi’s Name We Pray,
    Amen.

  33. 33
    BGinCHI says:

    Let’s wait until Burns weighs in to tell us how the law works, OK?

  34. 34
    scav says:

    “merely ceremonial” empty ritual devoid of actual religious feeling and content? Funny, that’s how I see a lot of the rulings currently being handed down from that Bench and their relationship to the law and constitution. (Burnsie no doubt sees this as a strong point.)

  35. 35
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    This is going to go down as the single most damaging court in the history of the Surpremes, isn’t it?

  36. 36
    JGabriel says:

    Anthony Kennedy from SCOTUS Majority Opinion (via NYTimes):

    Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define.

    Excerpted from the new Christopher Durang smash Broadway hit Sister Anthony Kennedy Mansplains It All For You Degenerate Heathens.

  37. 37
    Bill Arnold says:

    @dedc79:

    …and 3 Jews and 1 Christian in the minority.

    My wife, who is Jewish, gets upset at any opening prayer (at a non-religious organization) that includes something like “in Jesus’ name we pray”. That’s her limit, and from skimming the dissent, it looks it was at least occasionally crossed in Greece, NY.

  38. 38
    SatanicPanic says:

    @dedc79: That’s the point, isn’t it?

  39. 39
    Belafon says:

    @JGabriel: So not only is he trying to squeeze prayer in, he’s also trying to redefine the whole “rule by the consent of the governed.”

  40. 40
    🌷 Martin says:

    @dedc79:

    So, say you’re a member of a religious minority or an atheist and you’re living in Greece, NY. serving on the United States Supreme Court…

  41. 41
    Citizen_X says:

    Boy, the Roberts court is going to go down in infamy in US history, innit? (I hope.)

    I’m all for the Satanists and Pastafarians taking this on, but I say it’s time for the cult of Eros to make its resurgence. Let our Priestess-Whores say their invocation/call for holy orgy, or we’re taking this to court!

  42. 42
    low-tech cyclist says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    You could steal from Crash Davis:

    I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.

    Or Annie Savoy:

    I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring… which makes it like sex. There’s never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn’t have the best year of his career. Making love is like hitting a baseball: you just gotta relax and concentrate.

  43. 43
    ulee says:

    When I was in second grade I said I didn’t believe in God. My teacher was visibly shocked. Poor woman. But that was another place and time. Maryland, 1972.

  44. 44
    dubo says:

    @JGabriel: “Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define.”

    Ah, there’s the rub… seems like he’s pretty explicity trying to promote the right-wing “science is just another religion” and “all human rights stem from religion” tropes by lying about what religion and prayer actually are

  45. 45

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik: Is Chief Justice Roberts worse than Taney? What do the legal eagles here think?

  46. 46
    pharniel says:

    I can’t wait for all the city councils that find this ridiculous to start inviting Imams and Rabbi’s

  47. 47
    JGabriel says:

    John Cole @ Top:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    Like this:

    Deteriorata from National Lampoon.

    You are a fluke of the universe. You have no right to be here.
    Deteriorata. Deteriorata.

    Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
    And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
    Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep.
    Rotate your tires.
    Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself,
    And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
    Know what to kiss, and when.
    Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do.
    Wherever possible, put people on hold.
    Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment,
    and despite the changing fortunes of time,
    There is always a big future in computer maintenance.

    Remember The Pueblo.
    Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate.
    Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.
    Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
    Especially with those persons closest to you –
    That lemon on your left, for instance.
    Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
    Would scarcely get your feet wet.
    Fall not in love therefore. It will stick to your face.
    Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan.
    And let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
    Hire people with hooks.
    For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken.
    Take heart in the bedeepening gloom
    That your dog is finally getting enough cheese.
    And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot,
    It could only be worse in Milwaukee.

    You are a fluke of the universe.
    You have no right to be here.
    And whether you can hear it or not,
    The universe is laughing behind your back.

    Therefore, make peace with your god,
    Whatever you perceive him to be – hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.
    With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
    The world continues to deteriorate.
    Give up!

  48. 48
    Bobby Thomson says:

    They’ve already established not only that they are stone cold racists, but that they aren’t ashamed to admit it publicly. This is completely unsurprising.

    Taney and Catron in modern clothing.

    And I don’t want to hear another goddamn word about how Fat Tony Scalia is some principled defender of the First Amendment. It’s a lie and it’s always been a lie, and all you totebaggers who feed the myth need to STFU.

  49. 49
    PurpleGirl says:

    JC up top:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    My first thought. Arrrgggghhhhh!!!!!!!!!

  50. 50
    PaulB says:

    I like Zelazny’s solution:

    Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.

  51. 51
    Ash Can says:

    @JGabriel: Which of course would be fine if all of the Americans in attendance at these gatherings felt that way. However, the gatherings at which these prayers are being recited aren’t open to “many” Americans, they’re open to all Americans. I really hope those meetings turn into showcases for every fringe and crackpot “belief” under the sun. It would teach everyone involved a valuable lesson.

  52. 52
    Roger Moore says:

    @BGinCHI:

    I would just read from the screenplay of The Big Lebowski.

    Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.

  53. 53
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I haven’t read the opinion yet but if Kennedy is suggesting that a prayer is a form of ceremonial deism like having “In God We Trust” on currency, he is completely fucked in the head.*

    *FWIW I think having “In God We Trust” on currency is a First Amendment violation.

  54. 54
    BGinCHI says:

    @Roger Moore: I was thinking the prologue: “Sometimes there’s a man…aww heck….”

  55. 55
    scav says:

    Does anyone think we could get some monitors in the town meetings to ask everyone offering a prayer to certify, vow and attest that they do not believe anything they are about to intone — because only empty ritual has been legitimized.

  56. 56
    JGabriel says:

    History to Supreme Court: Goodbye Credibility!

  57. 57
    different-church-lady says:

    @JGabriel:

    There is always a big future in computer maintenance.

    Written in 1972 — that’s as prescient as it gets.

  58. 58
    rikyrah says:

    Let’s bring an Imam up and see how they feel.

  59. 59
    BGinCHI says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I agree. He is literally fucked in the head.

  60. 60
    Calouste says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Certainly because it is not followed by “All others pay cash”.

  61. 61
    JGabriel says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    FWIW I think having “In God We Trust” on currency is a First Amendment violation.

    Seconded.

  62. 62
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Slippery slope is starting to look more like a waterslide. With a pool full of broken glass at the bottom for those who don’t pledge allegiance to the United Baptist States of America.

  63. 63
    ulee says:

    Welcome to America, land of the willfully stupid.

  64. 64
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Would you be okay with “In Mammon We Trust”?

  65. 65
    Elizabelle says:

    I really winced at Franklin Graham’s “one nation under Jesus” at George W’s second inaugural.

    Did not belong there (Graham’s Jesus-pushing, or W).

  66. 66
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    @BGinCHI:

    I would just read from the screenplay of The Big Lebowski.

    At least its an ethos…

  67. 67
    Roger Moore says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    Taney and Catron in modern clothing.

    Look like the same robes judges have been wearing since whenever.

  68. 68
    aimai says:

    @KG: Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean that other people,equally entitled to citizenship and fair play, can’t see it. I would be mortally offended to have someone pray over my city council meeting “In Jesus’s Name.” It would let me know that people like myself were not considered equal to those belonging to whichever sect was giving the blessing.

  69. 69
  70. 70
    Elizabelle says:

    @Joel:

    Indeed we do.

    Don’t despair. Compose.

    We need a Pastafarian prayer, several perhaps, suitable for various occasions.

    We must encourage our Muslim neighbors to participate too. Imams at every Oklahoma council meeting! The Supreme Court said that prayer belongs at those meetings. Prayer they shall get.

  71. 71
    ulee says:

    Here, we celebrate our stupidity.

  72. 72
    Spinoza Is My Co-pilot says:

    As a liberal atheist I have to confess I really don’t give much of a shit about this. I am all for the separation of church and state, but this is small beer. Godbotherers can be dangerous sometimes, of course, but this is really just annoying. The stupid remnants of Sunday blue laws in this country have greater impact.

    In the coming decades most every church in western Europe will become a museum or performing arts center, and cease functioning as a worship site. The good ol’ US of A lags behind that progression of modern civilization, but will eventually be in much the same place, I think. If global climate change doesn’t get us all first (huge “if”).

    I really enjoyed a lot of the responses here so far to John’s question. “I like big butts. I can not lie.” “A man walks into a bar…” “Blessed are the cheesemakers”.

    That last one leads me to the prayer I would open with were I given the opportunity:

    “O Lord, oooo, you are so big, so absolutely huge. Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here, I can tell you. Forgive us, O Lord, for this, our dreadful toadying, but you are so strong, and well, just so super. Amen.”

    Sure, I couldn’t do it like Michael Palin, but I’d give it the college try.

  73. 73
    mark says:

    Our Father, Who aren’t in heaven…

  74. 74
    JPL says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I believe they are the conservatives except Roberts if fucked in the head. Roberts knows exactly what he’s doing and that’s worse.

  75. 75
  76. 76
    BGinCHI says:

    @mark: Howard be thy name….

  77. 77

    I’d humbly suggest this for agnostics and atheists, even if it is taken from the bible:

    “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
    Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
    2 For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
    as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
    They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
    3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
    Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’

    “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
    4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
    You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
    5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
    Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
    Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

    6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
    to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
    7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
    when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
    8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
    then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
    9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

    “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
    10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
    then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
    11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
    You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.

    I wouldn’t expect many legislative bodies to actually do anything in response to this scripture (especially the House of Representatives) but it would help to point out the blatant hypocrisy of those politicians who love to invoke religion and the name of God while passing legislation that is in direct opposition to what’s written in His word.

  78. 78
    Long Tooth says:

    This decision serves to cast the “excesses” committed by the Republican armed forces during the Spanish Civil War in a better light.

  79. 79
    ulee says:

    I’ll open the next meeting. I’ll keep it short. WE IZ STUPID. Everyone will clap their hands and congratulate themselves about how stupid they are.

  80. 80
    cleek says:

    not a dime’s worth of difference…

  81. 81
    Bill Arnold says:

    @PaulB:
    That Zelazny prayer is nicely done, tx for sharing it. (A wikipedia article calls it “The Agnostic’s Prayer”

  82. 82
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    @Jebediah, RBG:

    and of course I was beaten to the punch.

  83. 83
    Roger Moore says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    Now I’m the mutha fucka that ya read about
    Takin’ a life or two
    that’s what the hell I do, you don’t like how I’m livin
    well fuck you!

  84. 84
    shelley says:

    Love the top Newsmax headline:
    “Dick Morris: Hillary Used Same Benghazi Language as Rhodes Email”

    You mean words like ‘the’ and ‘a’ ?

  85. 85
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    “the prayers were merely ceremonial.”

    Then why are the Xtians so frantic to keep them?

  86. 86
    dubo says:

    @Comrade Dread: I prefer the tried and true Matthew 6:5-8

    5 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

  87. 87
    Roger Moore says:

    @dedc79:

    I suspect this is what the bottom looks like.

    Nah, he’s not willing to say what he really thinks. The bottom looks like the 30 Years War, but with nukes.

  88. 88
    JGabriel says:

    Spinoza Is My Co-pilot:

    As a liberal atheist I have to confess I really don’t give much of a shit about this. I am all for the separation of church and state, but this is small beer.

    Yes, it’s small beer when some idiot in Bumfuck, Pennsyltucky opens the town meeting with a prayer, but when the Supreme Court of the United States of America puts their imprimatur on it, that’s a very tall beer indeed.

  89. 89
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Your wicked secularism makes Baby Jesus cry.

  90. 90
    Jamey says:

    “Stunning.” As ever, I like your style, JGC.

    Also:

  91. 91
    Cacti says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Is Chief Justice Roberts worse than Taney? What do the legal eagles here think?

    Roberts is more of a 21st century Melville Fuller, IMO.

  92. 92
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @KG: Because if ‘ceremonial deism’ can be stretched that far, you can get the collected telecasts of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson through a chasm that big.

  93. 93
    JGabriel says:

    @Correction to post 20:

    … either of the two Jewish members of the court …

    should be

    … any of the three Jewish members of the court …

    My bad, I forgot about Breyer.

  94. 94
    Belafon says:

    @Spinoza Is My Co-pilot:

    As a liberal atheist I have to confess I really don’t give much of a shit about this. I am all for the separation of church and state, but this is small beer. Godbotherers can be dangerous sometimes, of course, but this is really just annoying.

    Back in the 40s or 50s, the Supreme Court said it wasn’t a violation of church and state to require people to say the pledge. Then some group, I believe Jehovah Witnesses, started getting beat up for refusing to say it. The SCOTUS had to reverse its own decision.

  95. 95
    ericblair says:

    @Citizen_X:

    I’m all for the Satanists and Pastafarians taking this on, but I say it’s time for the cult of Eros to make its resurgence. Let our Priestess-Whores say their invocation/call for holy orgy, or we’re taking this to court!

    My understanding of the hypocritical bullshit jurisprudence on this topic is that “ceremonial” also means the prayers that geriatric white judges were comfortable hearing when they were growing up, so Christianity and Judaism are in, but all the other funny not-really-religions are out. Because reasons.

  96. 96
    Botsplainer says:

    Protestant fundamentalist Christianity’s deity is fucking pathetic if It requires the support of state to foist operant conditioning onto an unwilling populace in order to get its fill of worshipful glorification.

    Somehow, I have my doubts as to whether many local Catholic or Greek Orthodox clerics were called to lead the prayer, judging by the cited verbiage most frequently used.

  97. 97
    Cacti says:

    @ericblair:

    so Christianity and Judaism are is in

    Fix’t.

    Let’s not kid ourselves.

    When right wingers lament straying from our “Judeo-Christian heritage” they aren’t pining for more Judaism in government.

  98. 98
    Elizabelle says:

    @cleek:

    not a dime’s worth of difference…

    I know. Anyone who utters that (and has uttered that) is outed as low information.

    Or a purposeful liar.

  99. 99
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    From TPM:

    In a move that seemed to hit a nerve with Justice Samuel Alito, Kagan warned of several problematic situations that could comply with the Court’s reasoning, such as a judge ordering a courtroom to rise before a Christian prayer and a local polling place requiring entrants to join an official in a Christian prayer.

    Alito snarked that Kagan’s logic was “really quite niggling” and that it was her — not the conservative majority — that went “far astray” from the Constitution.

    “I am troubled by the message that some readers may take from the principal dissent’s rhetoric and its highly imaginative hypotheticals,” the Bush-appointed justice wrote in his own opinion concurring with Kennedy’s.

    Highly imaginative hypotheticals, eh? Well, at least the Taney Roberts court never engages in hypotheticals to defend a conservative position.

  100. 100
    raven says:

    Yes, Friends, welcome to Pastor Flash’s our of Reckoning,
    with Organ Leroy at his organ again,
    and the Fifty-Voice St. Louis Aquarium Choir.

    I’m Decon E. L. Mouse.

    But, Dear Friends in these days of modern time,
    when you can’t tell the AC’s from the DC’s,

    well aren’t we all yearning for someone who can turn on a little stopping power?

    Dear Friends,
    I mean a smokey glass
    Don’t you think I mean a lightning rod
    with which to chase these spooks away?

    Don’t you know I mean our own Pastor Rod Flash!

    He’s been up for a week,
    but he’s coming down!
    Dexterity:

    White Lightning,
    White Lightning,
    this is Ground Beef Control.
    Do you read me?
    Over.

    I read only Good Books
    . Over.

    Ho, ho, ho!
    You must be way out there, Pastor.
    Over.

    I’m high, all right,
    but not on false drugs.

    I’m high on the real thing,
    Powerful gasoline,
    a clean windshield,
    and a shoeshine.
    Over.

    He’s turning over!
    Dexterity:

    I’m all right, Roger.
    Just a little argument with my co-pilot.
    And guess what, Rog?
    The little needle pointing to “E”
    –and, while that’s always stood for Excellent in my Book,
    I guess it means I’m out of gas.

    You’ll have to sing me in, my friends.
    My favorite.
    Hymn 15–17.

    Aghh . . . [fading]
    Dexterity:
    Thank you, Dear Friends,

    I’m down,
    I’m grounded,
    safe and sound,
    trailing clouds of glory,
    I’m down.

    And I’m marching!

    Yes, Dear Friends,
    I’m marching to dinner!

    ‘Cause Godamighty, I’m hungray!

    Yes! I’m hungray!
    Safe
    and sound
    and hungray!

    We’re hungray!

    Of course you’re hungray!

    I’m hungray!
    We’re all hungray!
    So let’s eat!

    Let’s eat!

    And he said the word!
    What was it?
    And we ate it!

    Hot dog!

    And what was the word?
    Hot Dog!

    Hot Dog!

    Yes, Dear Friends,
    a mighty Hot Dog is our Lord!

    I’m not talking about Hate!
    Dexterity:

    No, I’m talking about Ate!

    Dinner at Eight!

    Let’s eat!

    More sugar!

  101. 101

    @dubo: I would approve of this too.

    But as both of us have just pointed out, this has never really been about Christianity. It’s all about the rah-rah American civic religion where God is our co-pilot and thinks we’re awesome and we should say thanks to Him for just how awesome and amazing we are, because He’s on board with everything we do because we’re awesome!

  102. 102
    KG says:

    @aimai: fair enough. I tend to roll my eyes at most public prayers because I think they are silly. As someone else said up thread, this is small ball

  103. 103
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    John, why are you ignoring the Benghazi Scandalapooza? Democrats left this scandal to die and told their friends in the media to stand down. If Democrats are allowed to whitewash this scandal, political lives could be in jeopardy.

  104. 104
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    “Get the fuck back to work. This isn’t a church.”

    @🌷 Martin: I will use this for the rest of my life. Thank you.

  105. 105
    Turgidson says:

    @BGinCHI:

    I’d channel Walter’s Judaism.

    “I sure as shit DON’T FUCKING ROLL.”

  106. 106
    srv says:

    @Botsplainer: If your faith is so weak that you need the Courts of the Federal Government of the United States of America to protect it, then your god is a joke.

  107. 107
    Eric U. says:

    @dubo: I like that too, but it should be followed by leviticus 10:1 where got kills Aaron’s sons for not following his instructions.

  108. 108
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @raven: Thanks for that. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought of it.

  109. 109
    Schlemizel says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik:

    I wish but hell no! They have done worse & will probably do worse again when given the opportunity. Even as an atheist of strong non-belief who vies this decision as vile and anti-constitutional I do not believe this is the worst they have done.

  110. 110
  111. 111
    raven says:

    @Gin & Tonic: It came to me like the hot kiss on the end of a cold fist!

  112. 112
    JGabriel says:

    ericblair:

    My understanding of the hypocritical bullshit jurisprudence on this topic is that “ceremonial” also means the prayers that geriatric white judges were comfortable hearing when they were growing up, so Christianity and Judaism are in, but all the other funny not-really-religions are out. Because reasons.

    Given that none of the three Jewish members of the court joined the majority opinion, my guess would be that Judaism is not in either – as far as prayers that geriatric white judges were comfortable hearing goes anyway.

    This really is an embarrassment. I suspect future generations will scratch their heads in flabbergasted incredulity that 5 of the 6 Christian SCOTUS justices could ignore the sensitivities of their Judaic peers on the bench to come up with this opinion.

    Hell, I’m sure I’m not the only one in the present generation that finds it gob-smacking.

  113. 113
    Schlemizel says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    Until Roberts rules that a non-christian holds no right an christian needs to recognize Taney wins hands down. Not to say Roberts won’t just that until he does this is not even a contest.

  114. 114
    VOR says:

    The SciFi author Roger Zelazny wrote an agnostic’s prayer into his novel “Creatures of Light and Darkness”. Well, actually a couple. Here is the more famous one.

    “Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to ensure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.”

  115. 115
    Kristin says:

    This is all the more reason that progressive purity campaigns scare me. If we end up with a Republican president because if a bunch of ceremonial 3rd party voters, we can expect the court to get worse.

  116. 116
    PurpleGirl says:

    We should not forget this version which was quite popular in Star Trek and regular SF fandom:

    Disintegrata

    Go nastily amid the peace and tranquility, and remember what satisfaction there may be in genocide.

    As far as possible, without surrender, move into other people’s space.

    Lie often, and loudly; and listen to the lies of others, even the slow and incompetent — examples can be made of them later.

    Seek out meek and inoffensive persons; they are annoying, but fun to kill.

    Do not bother comparing yourself to others; those greater than you will eventually be eliminated, and those lesser than you are dead already.

    Fart in airlocks.

    Assassinate your superior as quickly as possible; your own career, however exalted, is not worth a plugged millo if one of your junior officers gets it over your dead body.

    Exercise caution if one of your course changes suddenly produces a sensor ghost; for the Galaxy is full of Federation vessels.

    But let this not blind you to the happier side of things; many Starship captains are swaggering, tin-plated dictators with delusions of godhood, and everywhere life is full of incompetence.

    Advance yourself.

    Especially do not feign meanness, neither be cynical about hate; you are not likely to run out of either.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the joys of defenestration and evisceration for more mature pleasures.

    Nurture a deep-seated suspicion of small furry creatures that purr; you never can tell.

    File your teeth regularly.

    Discipline is important; practice holding it in between planet falls.

    You are a scourge of the universe, no less than your average interstellar plague or black hole; you have a right to be here.

    And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is going to pieces in a most laudable manner.

    Therefore do your utmost to annoy the Destroyer, however you may conceive of Him, Big Bang or Entropy Death; and whatever your plans of conquest, as you wade through the morasses of peace with fire and sword, annoy your soul.

    With all its truth, high resolve, and courage, the world still has its ugly spots.

    Be thoughtless.

    Strive to be miserable.

    Found scratched on the Energy Barrier – Stardate 2832.4

  117. 117
    Cacti says:

    @Kristin:

    This is all the more reason that progressive purity campaigns scare me. If we end up with a Republican president because if a bunch of ceremonial 3rd party voters, we can expect the court to get worse

    Yup.

    Assuming no deaths or retirements before the 2016 election, the four oldest Justices will be 83, 80, 80, and 78. A Republican President in 2016 could potentially mean a 7-2 conservative super majority on the SCOTUS.

  118. 118
    Howard Beale IV says:

    Teh Ceiling Cat of us, whu haz cheezeburger, yu be spechul
    Yu ordered cheezburgerz,
    Wut yu want, yu gets, srsly.
    In ceiling and on teh flor.
    Giv us dis day our dalee cheezburger.
    And furgiv us for makin yu a cookie, but eateding it.
    And we furgiv kittehs who be steelin our bukkits.
    An do not let us leed into teh showa, but deliver us from teh wawter.
    Ceiling Cat pwns all. He pwns teh ceiling and teh floor and walls too.
    Forevur and evuhr. Amen.

  119. 119
    dubo says:

    @JGabriel: A set of 5 christians overruling 3 jews that sectarian prayers are exclusionary reminds me of Bill O saying that “nobody with any sense” is offended by “Merry Christmas” but he totally knows LOTS of people who are offended by “Happy Holidays” so really it’s saying “Happy Holidays” that is religious persecution

  120. 120
    catclub says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: How do your get those angry/scared cat ears, but the pupils not dilated at all? The cat was built that way?

  121. 121
    iami says:

    The reasoning is quite similar to the Dred Scott case. It’s a pity that it wasn’t cited by the majority as a precedent. The case at hand speaks to the fact that such religious observations are a long-standing part of our culture and, so therefore, should continue to be tolerated because, apparently, “right or wrong” doesn’t count in the face of tradition. This is pretty much exactly the crux of what the Dred Scott decision was lain upon.

  122. 122
    Kay says:

    @aimai:

    Kagan’s dissent is good:

    When a person goes to court, a polling place, or an immigration proceeding—I could go on: to a zoning agency, a parole board hearing, or the DMV—government officials do not engage in sectarian worship, nor do they ask her to do likewise. They all participate in the business of government not as Christians, Jews, Muslims (and more), but only as Americans—none of them different from any other for that civic purpose. Why not, then, at a town meeting?

    And then Alito gets really cranky in response and completely dismisses all of her concerns in a patronizing, lecturing manner much like Justice Roberts did with Justice Sotomayor in the affirmative action case.

    I think they would bring it into a polling place, myself, maybe before opening to the public as some sort of pre-opening blessing. I don’t think that’s at all far-fetched. I could see that happening.

  123. 123

    @catclub: I think of Yoda ears, as kitteh in attention gathering mode. Flat ears pasted to the head is : Red alert preparing for attack.

  124. 124
    catclub says:

    @JGabriel: “geriatric white judges ”

    Did Clarence Thomas vote with the minority? Or maybe he is not considered geriatric, yet.

  125. 125
    raven says:

    Here they come to football games!

  126. 126
    joel hanes says:

    @raven:

    You’ll have to sing me in, my friends.
    My favorite.
    Hymn 15–17.

    Aghh . . . [fading]

    Missing at this point in Raven’s otherwise-excellent recap are the words and music to that stirring hymn, “Marching To Shibboleth” (which I’m afraid would go right over the head of the Court’s majority). But it would be fun to organize a “St. Louis Aquarium Choir” to perform it at purely ceremonial events, such as city council meetings or the yearly opening of the SCOTUS.

    But what is it about the conspicuous-piety people that they cannot seem to grasp Jesus’s admonitions about whited sepulchres?

  127. 127
    The Other Chuck says:

    I dunno about prayer, but Robert Ingersoll’s Why I am an Agnostic is awesome to read with a fiery preacher’s voice (it takes a bit to warm up, so part 1 isn’t the best example).

  128. 128
    joel hanes says:

    @raven:

    So Nancy is in on this caper?

  129. 129
    raven says:

    @joel hanes: Axe and ye shall

    We’re marching, marching to Shibboleth,
    With the Eagle and the Sword!
    We’re praising Zion ’til her death,
    Until we meet our last reward!
    Men: Our Lord’s reward!
    Women: Zion! Oh happy Zion!
    O’er wrapp’d, but not detained!
    Men: Lion, f’rocious Lion!
    His beard our mighty mane!
    Women: At First and Main!
    Men: Oh, we;ll go marching, marching to Omaha,
    With the Buckram and the Cord!
    Women: You’ll hear us “boom” our State!
    Men: Ha, ha! As we cross the final ford!
    Women: The flaming Ford!
    Choir: Zion! Oh mighty Zion!
    Your bison now are dust!
    As your cornflakes rise
    “Gainst the rust-red skies,
    Then our blood requires us must
    Go …
    Men: Marching, marching to Shibboleth,
    With the Eagle and the …
    Women: The Buckram and the Cord!
    Men: Sword! Praising Zion ’til her death!
    Women: Ha, ha!
    Men: Until we eat our last reward!
    Women: The flaming Ford!
    Choir: Zion! Oh righteous Zion!
    There is no one to blame!
    For the homespun pies
    ‘Neath the cracking skies
    Shall release the fulsome rain!
    Tenor: Shall release!
    Men: Shall release!
    Soprano: Shall release!
    Women: Shall release!
    Choir: Shall release the vinyl rein!

  130. 130
    raven says:

    @joel hanes: Betty Joe Bialoski?

  131. 131
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @raven: Just don’t mention the name of the high school that Peorgie and Mudhead attended, or we’ll get BiP in this thread, too.

  132. 132
    Schlemizel says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    Thats the kind of spirit I like to her RAW, RAW, RAW!

  133. 133
    Spinoza Is My Co-pilot says:

    @raven: Melanie Haber? Audry Farber?

  134. 134
    GregB says:

    Meanwhile in Alabama Justice Roy Moore has declared that the First Amendment applies only to Christians.

    These religious fascists aren’t going to stop till America is a fully Christian Taliban nation.

  135. 135
    raven says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Morse Science High!

  136. 136
    raven says:

    There’s more old’s here than I thought!

  137. 137
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @raven: Sorry, I meant the rival school, the one that stole Morse Science.

  138. 138
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @raven: Elderly white shut-ins is the phrase, amirite?

  139. 139
    raven says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Ah Old CM High!

  140. 140
    raven says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Hell I go out once or twice a day!

  141. 141
    Spinoza Is My Co-pilot says:

    @JGabriel: Look, it’s a stupid and wrong ruling by a conservative SCOTUS. I’d rather they ruled the other way, but this is unsurprising.

    And it is still, in my opinion, of trifling concern.

    Let them pray to their non-existent sky daddy, I don’t give a fuck. He’s not real, and their prayers to a non-existent being are the penultimate in empty, meaningless words.

    However, if it really bothers you so much, then say something the next time you’re at some town meeting opened “In the name of Jesus”. You have that right. What are you afraid of? Disapproval? That your neighbors/fellow citizens might find out you think this is an inappropriate injection of religion into official civic business? If you believe so strongly about that, wouldn’t you want them to know?

    I really hate facile “slippery-slope” arguments. What and how does anyone thinks this leads to? Or is having to hear someone briefly talk to his Imaginary Superfriend before you all get down to business somehow make you a second-class citizen because you believe in a different Imaginary Superfriend, or no Imaginary Superfriends at all?

    I hate the injection of the execrable “God Bless America” into t he 7th inning stretch. So I sit, and don’t care what others around me think.

  142. 142
    BC says:

    If I were a religious person who believed in power of prayer, I’d be put out to hear Supremes call it “ceremonial.” Like the ultra-orthodox in Israel, they think that prayer is what keeps this country from going full-on European or some other bad fate

  143. 143
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @Schlemizel:

    I’m not talking about the decision in specific. I’m talking about this collection of 9 judges and their rulings as a whole. The fact that Ginsberg and Sotomayor have been fantastic hasn’t made up for the shitty list of 5-4 offenses this group seems to have shat on us.

  144. 144
    joel hanes says:

    @Spinoza Is My Co-pilot:

    Susan Underhill

  145. 145
    joel hanes says:

    @raven:

    PEOPLE’S PROSECUTOR TIREBITER: Communist Martyr High School! Exactly

    JUDGE POOP: Young man, if you don’t answer the question, I’m afraid we’ll have to gag you.

    MUDHEAD: What question ?

    JUDGE POOP: Gag him.

    PEOPLE’S PROSECUTOR TIREBITER: Who was that woman I saw you with last night?

    MUDHEAD: Ohh! That was no woman; that was Bottles!

  146. 146
    The Pale Scot says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    My vote is for Python’s Meaning of Life, Just to fuck with them.

    CHAPLAIN: Let us praise God. O Lord,…

    CONGREGATION: O Lord,…

    CHAPLAIN: …ooh, You are so big,…

    CONGREGATION: …ooh, You are so big,…

    CHAPLAIN: …so absolutely huge.

    CONGREGATION: …so absolutely huge.

    CHAPLAIN: Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here, I can tell You.

    CONGREGATION: Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here, I can tell You.

    CHAPLAIN: Forgive us, O Lord, for this, our dreadful toadying, and…

    CONGREGATION: And barefaced flattery.

    CHAPLAIN: But You are so strong and, well, just so super.

    CONGREGATION: Fantastic.

    HUMPHREY: Amen.

    CONGREGATION: Amen.

    Hymn;
    O Lord, please don’t burn us.
    Don’t grill or toast Your flock.
    Don’t put us on the barbecue
    Or simmer us in stock.
    Don’t braise or bake or boil us
    Or stir-fry us in a wok.
    Oh, please don’t lightly poach us
    Or baste us with hot fat.
    Don’t fricassee or roast us
    Or boil us in a vat,
    And please don’t stick Thy servants, Lord,
    In a Rotissomat.

  147. 147
    burnspbesq says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Let’s wait until Burns weighs in to tell us how the law works, OK?

    I was actually going to tell you all the things that are wrong with the majority’s analysis. But fuck you.

  148. 148
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    “Dearly beloved, let’s not fuck this up…”

  149. 149
    LABiker says:

    Thanks, Ralph Nader.

  150. 150
    jefft452 says:

    I pray dear Lord for Jesus’ sake,

    Give us this day a T-Bone Steak,

    Hallowed be thy Holy name,

    But don’t forget to send the same.

    Oh, hear my humble cry, Oh Lord,

    And send us down some decent board,

    Brown gravy and some German fried,

    With sliced tomatoes on the side.

    Observe me on my bended legs,

    I’m asking you for Ham and Eggs,

    And if thou havest custard pies,

    I like, dear Lord, the largest size.

    Oh, hear my cry, All Mighty Host,

    I quite forgot the Quail on Toast,

    Let your kindly heart be stirred,

    And stuff some oysters in that bird.

    Dear Lord, we know your Holy wish,

    On Friday we must have a fish,

    Our flesh is weak and spirit stale,

    You better make that fish a whale.

    Oh, hear me Lord, remove these “Dogs,”

    These sausages of powder’d logs,

    Your bull beef hash and bearded Snouts.

    Take them to hell or thereabouts.

    With Alum bread and Pressed-Beef butts,

    Dear Lord you damn near ruin’d my guts,

    Your white-wash milk and Oleorine,

    I wish to Christ I’d never seen.

    Oh, hear me Lord, I am praying still,

    But if you won’t, our union will,

    Put pork chops on the bill of fare,

    And starve no workers anywhere.

  151. 151
    Anya says:

    People who were screeming about “both parties are the same” in 2000, are directly responsible for all the horrible decisions made by these jackasses. Two of those seats would’ve been filled by Gore nominees if it was not for those asshats. Oh, how I hate purity assholes! IMO, they’re far worse than wingnuts.

  152. 152
    D58826 says:

    Exactly what is a ‘Ceremonial prayer’? Now every bible thumping school board will label their morning indoctrination ‘Ceremonial prayer’.

    Several years ago a Navy chaplain revised to drop the words ‘in Jesus’ name’ when he lead a prayer in a non-denominational setting. He argued that as a Christian he was obligated to use that formulation. The Navy disagreed and he left the service. Now does anyone think that if he lead the prayer at this town council he would be saying a ‘ Ceremonial prayer’.

    I rather suspect that this is a tip-off, if there ever was a doubt, that the Christian 5 will find that a piece of paper, aka a corporate charter, has the same religious freedom as a living breathing human being (well at least the Christian variety)

  153. 153

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    Call Amish tech support and see if they can help.

  154. 154
    Hungry Joe says:

    Say what you want about “ceremonial,” about “small beer.” But as a Jew and an atheist*, I feel as if my country just slapped me in the face.

    * Not a contradiction, I assure you.

  155. 155
    D58826 says:

    Even if, as the dissenter’s suggested, the town council invited leaders of all the faith communities to lead prayers (and no bigot objected to those terrorist Mooooslims) you still have a government official deciding what is a religion and what is a proper format for prayer. Will the town council allow the prayer of some group that starts out by gutting a chicken? As Jefferson said in his wall of separation letter – faith is between a man and his god however he may perceiver that god. Given that the people pushing prayer claim that government can’t make water run down hill then how is it qualified to judge the faith of one person vs another.

  156. 156
    charluckles says:

    @Kay:

    “Although I do not suggest that the implication is intentional, I am concerned that at least some readers will take these hypotheticals as a warning that this is where today’s decision leads—to a country in which religious minorities are denied the equal benefits of citizenship.”

    This statement just blows me away. How does one become a supreme court justice (or hell even just live) in this day and age without understanding why minorities might be more than justifiably concerned about the equal benefits of citizenship in the face of such a ruling?

  157. 157
    greennotGreen says:

    There are many abominations tied up in this decision, and one of the worst is the harm done to the already seriously damaged practice of Christianity. (You know, there are some good people who are Christians, although I myself am a pagan.) The idea that something so serious and personal and private as communing with the Christian idea of the Creator, an all-knowing, all-powerful being who knows your needs before you even speak them, should be simply “ceremonial” is to treat religious belief which a lack of respect unmatched by any of the more outspoken atheists at this website.

  158. 158
    bk says:

    @Spinoza Is My Co-pilot:

    I hate the injection of the execrable “God Bless America” into t he 7th inning stretch. So I sit, and don’t care what others around me think.

    I’m pretty sure that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to baseball games. Otherwise, great point.

  159. 159
    LanceThruster says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    Dear Glob, protect me from your followers.

  160. 160
    Matt McIrvin says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    I sort of kind of did this once, by accident. Well, not so much leading a prayer as giving a sermon.

    Back in the 1980s, public high schools still had baccalaureate services on school grounds. At mine, the graduating senior with the highest grade-point average got to give a speech at graduation, and the student with the second-highest got to give a speech at baccalaureate. And #2 was me.

    I’d heard vaguely that baccalaureate was traditionally a religious service. I treated this information by ignoring it, and my sermon was a secular speech about the wonders of the universe that was sort of warmed-over Carl Sagan. I heard later that it pissed off some people, though nobody got mad at me to my face. There was a guy on after me who was some kind of Bible-banging evangelical youth pastor. Well, I’d said my piece.

  161. 161
    tybee says:

    @raven:

    friend of mine who grew up on jekyll, said to try this guy:

    Brooks Good
    9122308957

  162. 162
    different-church-lady says:

    @joel hanes: That is metaphysically absurd man! How can I know what you hear?

  163. 163
    Jeffro says:

    Only way to possibly do this in a “ceremonial”, non-1st-Amendment-violatin’ way is to have a moment of silence. Everyone says their own prayer to their own god (or not), silently, and we’re done.

    Happens every day in schools (which will be next with this Christians-first, Christian-prayers-only nonsense).

  164. 164
    jake the antisoshul soshulist (FYWP) says:

    I suppose I would start with Cthulhu Ftagn, but YMMV.

  165. 165
    martianchronic says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Overtly religious baccalaureates still happen on school grounds in the Midwest – leastwise, I attended one maybe five or six years ago. The student speaker went all warrior for Jesus, speaking about her faith and goals as a Christian in the most militaristic way conceivable. It was “Onward Christian Soldier” dialed up to defcon. I seemed to be alone in finding the whole thing appalling.

  166. 166
    Bill Murray says:

    @Anya: learn some math. Nader was at best the 4th largest contributor to Gore’s loss. You’ve got SCOTUS, cheating Republicans and the ~150,000 Florida 1996 Democratic Clinton voters that voted for Bush in 2000 all way more important than Nader’s effect, which was around 10,000 votes. Why you hate the people that voted for Nader (most of whom wouldn’t have voted for Gore in any case) more than the actual problem groups shows you aren’t very good at thinking. But keep up your blind rage against people who might be your allies, I’m sure they are far more likely to vote with you that way. I know my mom always said “you catch more flies with vinegar than with honey”

  167. 167
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    How does an atheist lead a prayer?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSU9lVTjlks

  168. 168
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    @Hungry Joe: Exactly. Because these things (prayer, “God” language on currency and in Pledge) are all about the majority patting themselves on the back over their assumed moral superiority and having a “who’s with us?” moment for determining who are the interlopers in the room. I remember the way the lone atheist girl in my home-room class who refused to say the Pledge was treated by her peers, and I’ve read numerous accounts of adults living in middle America who report the same kind of othering from their fine Christian community based on dealings in the public sphere (school boards, local government etc.) It’s marginalization plain and simple. And it always amazes me that so many people think it’s no big deal for the government that is supposed to represent everyone to do something that effectively marginalizes a minority. If someone proposed that we open public meetings by doing something that marginalized gays, blacks, women, the disabled etc., I would think that most left-minded people would feel that was something worth fighting rather than just dismissing the concerns of the marginalized group because other, bigger problems exist.

    These devout politicians and SCOTUS judges are fully free to gather with fellow believers and pray their hearts out as much as they like. They don’t want that. They want to bring their prayers into the government sphere precisely for the symbolic endorsement that a government building brings.

  169. 169

    “Oh you five robed twits will you please please get a clue”

    I’m an atheist and that is my prayer.

    I can pray to all sorts of things which I actaully believe exist.

    Hail John Cole, not so full of grace. Continue to enlighten us with your snark. and also dog photos.

  170. 170
    sm*t cl*de says:

    Buggrit, someone has cited Zelazny;s suggestion already.

  171. 171
    brantl says:

    How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?

    We lead upstanding lives, that’s as close as we come to prayer.

  172. 172
    Chet says:

    Oh, Lord…

    Ooh, You are so big…

    So absolutely huge…

    Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here, I can tell You…

    Forgive us, O Lord, for this, our dreadful toadying…

    And barefaced flattery…

    But You are so strong, and, well, just so… super…

    Fan-tastic.

    Amen.

  173. 173
    Wally Ballou says:

    “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

    Good advice. I just wish I could remember who said it.

  174. 174
    wuzzat says:

    “How the fuck does an atheist lead a prayer?”

    “Christ on a cracker, let’s get this meeting started.”

  175. 175
    Spinoza Is My Co-pilot says:

    @bk:

    I’m pretty sure that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to baseball games. Otherwise, great point.

    No shit, Sherlock.

    My point in making an analogy about deliberately sitting out the jingoistic two-minute hate of “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch was pretty obviously in reference to my 4th paragraph, which begins, “However, if it really bothers you so much, say something the next time you’re at some town meeting opened ‘In the name of Jesus…”

    Meaning, if you feel slapped in the face or made to feel second-class by this asinine SCOTUS ruling (and I very much appreciate that many feel exactly that way) then you have every right to push back against majoritarian bullying and what this is really about (as Comrade Dread so perceptively pointed out in comment# 101): “the rah rah American civic religion where God is our co-pilot and thinks we’re awesome…”. And right there, right when they’re slapping you with their jingoistic, Christianist bullshit.

    Sure, if you do that you’re liable to experience some (or even a lot of) opprobrium from many of your fellow-citizens who are all, “In the name of the Lord, ‘Murica, fuck yeah!” Much like sitting out the appalling “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch.

    I’m not saying the 7th inning stretch is the same as a town meeting, nor that the First Amendment pertains to baseball games.

    I’m talking about the fear of disapproval, and having the courage of your convictions in the face of that anyway.

    At least you most likely won’t get a beer poured on you at a town meeting.

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