Government Proscribed Prayer in Virginia

Someone complained to the ACLU when a man, Hashmel Turner (not shown), a City Council member, led the opening prayers of their the City Council meetings in Fredericksburg, VA and invoked the name of Jesus Christ. ACLU threatened to sue the city if this didn’t stop. So, the city said they would adopt a non-denominational prayer policy.

Okay, hold the presses here.

POINT ONE: Purpose of Prayer

The man was offering up a prayer. To whom was he praying? To God. Which God is that? The same God our Founding Fathers prayed to. That would be the God of the Bible. Why pray? To speak to God.

The Bible teaches us to pray “in the name of Jesus”…that is how we have access to God. All Christians who believe what the Bible teaches agree that Jesus is “the only way”. While non-Christians might not agree, that’s fine, but Christians believe that to be true. When Christians pray to their God, they invoke the name of Jesus. If they didn’t, then they would not be able to gain access to their God.

This city council member believed he had the right to invoke the name of Jesus when he prayed in a governmental setting because he believed

“that prayers in open council meetings are not government speech. Therefore, he has argued, the Constitution’s protections of free speech prohibit the government from dictating their content.”

Unfortunately the former Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O’Connor (filling in for someone else) issued an opinion yesterday at the US Court of Appeals in the 4th Circuit upholding a previous court ruling.

“Turner was not forced to offer a prayer that violated his deeply held religious beliefs,” O’Connor wrote. “Instead, he was given the chance to pray on behalf of government. Turner was unwilling to do so in the manner that the government had proscribed, but remains free to pray on his own behalf, in nongovernmental endeavors, in the manner dictated by his conscience.’

“His First Amendment Free Exercise rights have not been violated.”

I think this is crazy. How can a Christian be expected to “pray on behalf of the government” and be forbidden to invoke the name of Jesus? Who is the government praying to?

This is a blatant attempt to remove prayer from the public square. If Christians can’t pray “in the name of Jesus”, whether it’s in a governmental setting or not, their prayers are in vain. They might as well not pray at all!

POINT TWO: Government-Proscribed Prayer

“…the manner that the government had proscribed…”

The fact that the government proscribed a manner of prayer violates our 1st Amendment rights, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”

I think I’m going to give the law firm representing this man a call and suggest they switch their argument around. The city council should never have proscribed a manner of prayer in the first place. If there is going to be a prayer offered in their meetings then they must allow men and women to pray according to their faith.

Should they decide to remove all prayer instead,… Well, let’s just say they’ll have another fight on their hands.

After all this is America, isn’t it?

Needless to say, Turner is appealing this decision to the US Supreme Court.


7 thoughts on “Government Proscribed Prayer in Virginia

  1. hoobie

    Question: I, as a Rastarfarian and City Councilman, offer up a prayer to Jah in the name of Halle Selassie before a council meeting. Would you have a problem with that?

  2. Doug Johnson

    When a priest prays in church be reading a prayer from the prayer book, Is he praying or doing the same thing my computer does when it reads my text through the speakes in my computer?

    When I pray over my food, I pretty much say the same thing every day. I could write it down and read it. Does reading it make it not my prayer? If you read my prayer over your food, is it your prayer?

    Freedom to exercise one’s religion must include what you say when you pray, whether you read it or not, whether you wrote it or someone else.

    Should Jews be allowed to keep their little prayer hats on? Must clergy take off their collars?

    This is not a Jew thing nor clergy thing. It is a Jesus thing. The fear is of the name of Jesus. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, the sweetest name for Christians yet the most hated and feared by non-Christians.

    George Washington signed his name to the ratification of our US Constitution with the phrase “year of our Lord”. This was not meaningless as some now say. It was an official acknowledgment that Jesus is Lord of not only George Washington but also on the United States of America.

    If George Washington had the freedom then, certainly we all have the freedom now to pray in Jesus name.

  3. hoobie

    “Personally, I wouldn’t ask you to offer up a prayer on the City Council’s behalf if that were the case.”

    And I wouldn’t ask a Christian to. And therein lies the problem: it’s allow all religious expressions or allow none.

  4. Carrie Wigal Post author

    Hoobie, do you in fact believe in and pray to this other god or are you just trying to make a point?

    I’m not saying you couldn’t pray in that manner, but rather that I personally wouldn’t want you praying to your other god on my behalf.

    The real problem lies with the fact that many Americans have forgotten their heritage while others wish to re-write it. This country was founded by Christian men who fought to break free from a tyrannical government. They believed in a Creator and they prayed to Him for this country. Evidence of this is all over Washington DC…on inscriptions in the monuments, in the charters of freedom and other founding documents, and in the halls of our government buildings.

    Now, there is a concentrated effort to wipe out all traces of Christianity in America…all under the guises of “freedom of religion” and “separation of church and state”.

    Its preposterous! The very men who fought and died to give us our freedoms would turn over in their graves if they knew in a few centuries we’d have Supreme Court justices making rulings concerning prayers being made “in a manner that the government proscribed”. Government should be proscribing no such thing!

  5. Carrie Wigal Post author

    pro·scribe (pr-skrb) [as defined on]
    tr.v. pro·scribed, pro·scrib·ing, pro·scribes
    1. To denounce or condemn.
    2. To prohibit; forbid. See Synonyms at forbid.
    a. To banish or outlaw (a person).
    b. To publish the name of (a person) as outlawed.

  6. Faith Stuart

    I believe many people don’t care if the founding fathers were born again bible believers. They aren’t themselves and don’t see the need for anyone to be so.
    They don’t understand that the one religion that accepts all people, turns the other cheek, bear others’ burdens… is Christianity.
    Why should they, when a huge population of those alive present day take on the name “Christian” but aren’t anything like they should be? Who is taking care of single moms and foster care kids? The State.
    On the other hand- that committed social worker, nursing home janitor and elderly teacher are probably christians. They most likey know Jesus is the only way to God the Creator and pray to him. But it’s a secret. They’ve been told it’s wrong to tell others. They may lose their job or get sued.
    I know everyone wants to say they love America because it makes us free. Jesus made me free and not even the ACLU can change that. They’re just relieved that I am the minority.
    Or am I?


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