The Freedom From Religion Foundation makes a very clear argument for how and why these prayers are unconstitutional, unnecessary, inappropriate and needlessly divisive:
"Calling upon Commission members and citizens to pray is coercive and beyond the authority ofthe local goverment. Citizens are compelled to come before you on important civic matters, to seek licenses, permits, to participate in important decisions affecting their livelihood, their property, and quality of life. These citizens should not be made to feel offended, excluded, or like political outsiders because the local government they support with their taxes imposes religious ritual at civil government meetings. Local government should not be in the business of performing religious rituals, or exhorting all citizens, regardless of beliefs, to participate in a Christian prayer, or even asking citizens to show deference or obeisance to this ritual."What were these prayers like? Well, here are two examples:
In this video, the Hamilton County Commission opens their agenda session with a prayer in which the preacher says:
"We thank you for the sacrifice that you give us through Christ, who offers us freedom from oppression and injustice, from all the 'isms' of life. But more importantly, from the sin that takes our life over. . . In the name of Christ we pray."
This video was shot while attending a Hamilton County Commission agenda session with a Muslim friend of mine. She is clearly visible in this video, standing almost directly in front of me, and directly in front of the preacher, wearing her hijab, the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women.
In this video the preacher says the following:
"Our society is quickly moving away from allowing men like me, to come to a place like this and request anything from a God like you. Yet, here I stand and here we are. And even more amazing to us Lord, we know we have had your attention. So it is in the name of Jesus that I pray and in the name of a loving God that we say Amen."Hamilton County is home to many people who practice a multitude of faiths as well as many freethinkers and self-identified atheists. Allowing the openings of these necessary governmental meetings to be dominated from the outset by open prayers by right-wing Christians preachers to their particular (mis)characterization of Jesus Christ creates an needlessly hostile and uncomfortable environment for many of our area residents. If any theocrats disagree with me, try to imagine how you would feel if the Hamilton County Commission opened a meeting with a reading from the Holy Qur'an and bearing witness to Muhammad as Allah's messenger.
I know exactly what would happen - the vipers at Abba's House would lose their minds and screech about "Shariah Law" taking over our government, failing to recognize that a creeping right-wing Christian theocracy already has.