HACKNEY CENSORSHIP OF JESUS' NAME IN NC HOUSE DRAWS SHARP READER RESPONSE.
By VERNE STRICKLAND
Our recent posts on the action by NC House Speaker Joe Hackney, banning mention of the name of Jesus in prayer on the House floor, attracted some interesting mail from readers.
Some of it opposed Speaker Hackney's action (examples):
• Mr. Hackney, I don't know who it offends but I will tell you that I will never have to stand before the Lord and say I denied Him. Anyone who doesn't like the word Jesus doesn't need to be in our pressence. You have made me ashamed to be a tarheel but I will get over it and keep fighting you socialist progressive communists till death do I depart this world.
• Mr. Hackney: You should be ashamed of yourself. This country was founded on God. Many people still and will have God in their hearts. You cannot force Christians to leave what they believe, just because you don't think it is right.
• EXCELLENT article, Verne. Keep hammering the truth home!
Some of it supported Speaker Joe Hackney (examples):
• A religion over any other has no place in our government. As a Jew, I certainly don't need anyone to pray for me in Jesus' name. My wife and children are Christians. I encourage them in their choice of religion, but religion belongs in church, the home, and the heart; not government.
• Speaker Joe Hackney has demonstrated his courage and his compassion both. He honors, with the sensativity of Solomon, all the pastors (and rabbis, and imams) who deliver a daily invocation. At the same time, Rep. Hackney is welcoming and including those who can appreciate a prayer without a specific "deity" named. All who cry "blasphemy," ask yourselves: Would you also be so supportive should a prayer be given in Hebrew by a rabbi, or in Arabic by an imam? WWJD? I think speak to the entire gathering, offering fishes and loaves rather than thorns and bile. A thought: Worship in your own homes as you wish, but in the homes of others, pray with peace of heart rather than a chip on the shoulder.
• Isn't this just an official following the US Constitution, 1st Amendment - written by the founding fathers."Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .". So government cannot, or be seen to, promote one religion over another. Also the Constitution itself says in Article VI, Section 3: "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States". Religious belief is not a pre-requisite for officials, so there will always be someone who does not want to pray to Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, or whoever. Hackney was just doing his job. There is no need to vilify this man - even if we don't like it.
All the comments were thoughtful, welcomed, and sincere, I’m certain. These writers spoke from the heart, and expressed what they believe.
But what do constitutional scholars say? For an answer, I went to Mr. Andy Yates, campaign manager for 7th Congressional District GOP nominee Ilario Pantano, who found Speaker Hackney’s actions shocking and unwarranted.
Here is what Mr. Yates found in his research –
I think this might be helpful. It is from the Pastor who was fired's attorney. It is a violation of the first amendment right of free exercise of religion and also a violation of the first amendment right to freedom of expression ot restrict how the pastor may pray. Hackney was violating the pastor's constitutional rights.
Pastor Ron Baity’s legal representative, David Gibbs of the Christian Law Association, argues that Baity has a right to pray in Jesus name as long as he does not proselytize or speak negatively about another faith.
“The First Amendment promises all Americans the free exercise of their religion, which includes the right to pray as their faith requires, even when they are invited to open state legislative sessions with prayer,” remarked Gibbs.
“There is no authority in American history, tradition or Supreme Court precedent that requires a legislature to censor a private citizen’s prayers in order to participate in a benefit or privilege that is offered to other citizens of the state,” he added.
Gibbs contends that government agencies must have policies that allow representatives of all faiths to pray freely, but he adds that voters can also have an impact.
"Encourage your legislators at your city, your county meetings, your school board or others that prayer does matter [and] that asking for divine blessing and guidance, asking for God's help is something that's been done since the founding of our nation, and it shouldn't be just disbanded with," the CLA attorney requests.
Also you have this ruling from the US 4th Judicial Circuit Court of Appeals:
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals specifically authorized legislatures to allow Jesus-prayers in Turner v. Fredericksburg, when Justice O'Connor wrote: "the Establishment Clause does not absolutely dictate the form of legislative prayer. In Marsh, the legislature employed a single chaplain…the legislature in Simpson allowed a diverse group of church leaders from around the community to give prayers at open meetings. Both varieties of legislative prayer were found constitutional."
Hope this helps!
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So, dear readers, I know what I believe, and I benefit from Mr. Yates’ thorough research on the realities and the legalities focusing on this thorny issue.
Perhaps no minds or hearts have been changed.
I know mine haven’t.
But I do pray that the cynical and the unbelievers will be moved to learn who Jesus Christ is, and experience His Saving Grace.
And it is in His Precious Name, our Savior Jesus Christ, that I offer this prayer. Amen.
Respectfully, Verne Strickland.
ALSO SEE THESE POSTS ON THE PRAYER ISSUE: