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Letters: The power, or not, of prayer

August 11, 2013

Re "White House takes GOP side on church-state cases," Aug. 9

Letting someone open a town council's meeting with a prayer doesn't amount to government endorsement of his religion? As an attorney, I feel that any court inclined to uphold such prayer should consider these questions:

Will the council abide prayers reflecting the full variety of beliefs held by the town's residents? Are such prayers to be allotted pro-rata, per the adherents' respective populations? If the town's religious plurality shifts, say, from Christian to Islamic, will imams then supplant pastors?

Avoiding endorsement of religion while permitting prayer in government meetings seems all but impossible. So we should pray that the U.S. Supreme Court upholds a lower court's well-considered ruling.

Edward Alston

Santa Maria

The White House is absolutely correct to point out that prayers before public bodies have never actually coerced anyone to join another religion.

The plaintiffs only say the prayers were offensive and inappropriate, but there is no constitutional right not to be offended. The 1st Amendment prohibits only laws "respecting an establishment of religion." Despite the "endorsement" standard set by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a prayer without enforcement or codification of religion cannot constitute a "law."

Mel Wolf


The Obama administration and congressional Republicans have asked the Supreme Court to allow prayers before government meetings. Did any of them think to ask Him (also supreme) whether He even wants to be there?

In 2009 I attended a healthcare reform town hall in Alhambra. Hordes of loud "tea party" activists descended on the city and attempted to sabotage the meeting. They tried to drown out the panel by incessantly shouting vitriol, mainly directed at President Obama. It was ugly, and I actually became nauseated.

Trust me on this one: The Lord would have said, "I'm outta here, folks."

Ramona Salinas Saenz



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