As anyone could have predicted, the decision by the US Supreme Court that ceremonial prayers at the beginning of meetings of the Greece Town Board were constitutional will not settle things. Rather than forbidding such prayers altogether (my preferred option and one that I think is not only constitutional but also practical in that it removes any ambiguity), the majority’s reasoning and verdict was based on the detailed facts of that case and only further muddied the waters. It will inevitably result in other cases with slightly different facts being the subject of future litigation.
And right on cue we have such a case. Following the ruling, Al Bedrosian, a member of the Roanoke, VA County Board of Supervisors, wants to ditch their former policy of allowing only nonsectarian prayers because he does not think that Wiccans and Satanists should be allowed to also offer prayers.
Commenting on Monday, Bedrosian said he envisions a setup by which the supervisors would approve, individually, people from their districts to offer the opening prayer. That system would hold supervisors accountable to their districts, he added.
When asked if he would allow representatives from non-Christian faiths and non-faiths, including Jews, Muslims, atheists and others, the Hollins District supervisor said he likely would not.
If a non-Christian wished to pray during a meeting under his idea for the prayer policy, Bedrosian said, he or she would be able to do so during the allotted time for citizen comment.
“I think America, pretty much from founding fathers on, I think we have to say more or less that we’re a Christian nation with Christian ideology,” Bedrosian said. “If we’re a Christian nation, then I would say that we need to move toward our Christian heritage.”
I wonder what he would do if someone from (say) the Westboro Baptist Church or one of the many other crazy Christian groups out there got up during the citizen comment period and prayed for hell and damnation to be rained on all people who are not born-again Christians.
It used to be that even evangelical Christians used to say ‘Judeo-Christian’ in order to try and keep at least Jews on board but that always seemed like a subterfuge to me. Now people like Bedrosian seem to be dropping even that pretense.
Expect to see a slew of such attempts by Christians across the country, especially in small communities with little religious diversity.