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Teh God Thing? Oh No! Run For The Hills!

By Greg L | 18 January 2011 | Manassas City, Prince William County | 20 Comments

When is a prayer not a prayer?  When Manassas City Manager Larry Hughes gives his opinion:

“The invocations are very ecumenical in content and tone; it is closer to a statement of hope and thanks than a traditional prayer,” said Manassas City Manager Larry Hughes. “There are no religious references in the statements.”

When you give thanks, Mr. Hughes, just who are you supposedly giving thanks to?  Nobody?  Methinks another government official has gotten so scared of his politically correct shadow he’s resorted to utter gibberish when confronted by that situation where you otherwise might be well served to draw upon something such as 1 Peter 3:15-16.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Perhaps this question ought to be posed to Don Richardson, as the answer would certainly be enlightening.  The last time he ever had someone from his district offer a prayer for an invocation instead of a moment of silence (as if PWCSB Board meetings were memorials for the dead) is like, well, never.

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  1. James Young said on 19 Jan 2011 at 12:41 am:
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    Our new pastor at our new church (we left an ELCA congregation last year — after 20 years worshiping there — for an LCMS congregation) was invited to give the invocation at the PWC BOCS meeting. After reading guidelines which limited him to saying virtually nothing relating to Christianity, he politely declined. Bravo!

  2. Doug Brown said on 19 Jan 2011 at 2:25 am:
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    I have been saying it for awhile but we really don’t have a prayer as long as Hughes remains city manager.

  3. Love the USA said on 19 Jan 2011 at 8:20 am:
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    The city has liberals in most of the top executive positions. Please explain how this happens if true Republicans are on the council?

  4. Anonymous said on 19 Jan 2011 at 9:03 am:
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    @love and @doug excellent points!

    I have long missed Doug Waldron’s prayers to GOD - not Hal Parrish’s “prayer” to nothing and nobody, watch how Aveni sneaks in an “amen” at the end and the Mayor looks uncomfortable, it is priceless

  5. Isophorone said on 19 Jan 2011 at 9:38 am:
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    I looked up the term “ecumenical and here is what I got (from Wikipedia):

    “Ecumenism or oecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation. It is used predominantly by and with reference to Christian denominations and Christian Churches separated by doctrine, history, and practice. Within this particular context, the term ecumenism refers to the idea of a Christian unity in the literal meaning: that there should be a single Christian Church.

    “The word contrasts with interfaith dialogue or interfaith pluralism aimed at unity or cooperation among diverse religions and referring to a worldwide ‘religious unity’ by the advocacy of a greater sense of shared spirituality.”

    I can go along more easily with an interfaith thanking of G-d in an invocation. If the mayor and city council are uncomfortable even with THAT, then they really don’t understand whom to thank.

  6. Will said on 19 Jan 2011 at 9:43 am:
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    @ Doug

    Please also get rid of that windbag of a city attorney and the do - nothing zoning director!

  7. Love the USA said on 19 Jan 2011 at 1:45 pm:
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    I agree….all three need to go.

  8. Anonymous said on 19 Jan 2011 at 5:56 pm:
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    I still haven’t figured out why I must watch any of you practice your religion on government time. If you need to pray then do it on your own time.

  9. Disgusted said on 19 Jan 2011 at 6:45 pm:
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    @ Love the USA said, “Please explain how this happens if true Republicans are on the council?”

    Sooooo…God is only a Republican?!? I’ll take my government with a little more separation of church and state, please.

    …and here it comes…

  10. well said on 19 Jan 2011 at 9:47 pm:
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    I believe the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which is the highest federal authority on Constitutional issues in our region short of the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2008 upheld a municipal decision against references to Jesus in municipal invocations. Assuming that is so, then Hughes’ statements appear consistent with controlling jusdicial precedent. We may or may not like it, but he should not be accused of being way off base. (I believe that Sandra Day O’Connor wrote the decision for the Fourth Circuit after she retired from the Supremes.)

  11. well said on 19 Jan 2011 at 9:57 pm:
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    Turner v. City Council of Fredericksburg, (4th Cir., July 23, 2008)

  12. Jack Slimp said on 19 Jan 2011 at 11:11 pm:
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    See “The Mythical “Wall of Separation”: How a Misused Metaphor Changed Church–State Law, Policy, and Discourse”

    Jefferson’s concern over the power of the court system has come to pass.

  13. well said on 20 Jan 2011 at 6:54 am:
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    The reality is that nearly all conservative judges have supported that separation. The overwhelming majority of federal judges appointed by Reagan, Bush 1, and Bush 2 are right there. Since 1980 there were five terms of appts by R presidents and just over two terms of appts by D presidents.

  14. NoVA Scout said on 21 Jan 2011 at 5:53 am:
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    Re the last comment: conservatives, particularly those of us who are religious, are very supportive of keeping government away from religion. No better way to degrade religious life than to have it all sullied with the mud of secular government. These are different spheres altogether. The constitutional protections of the First Amendment, in order to protect religion as intended, have to be strictly observed. It’s a constitutionally liberal, not conservative, instinct to try to mix overt ceremonial displays of religion into the workings of government.

  15. citizenofmanassas said on 21 Jan 2011 at 7:49 am:
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    I sure hope all of those that want to keep Religion out of Government are not using money. They are just hypocrites if they are, but still saying that God can’t be mentioned in Government meetings.

    O’conner is a lib. When was the last time a liberal President nominated a non liberal for any judgeship? Yet, conservatives appoint non conservatives all of the time. That’s why the GOP is called the stupid party.

  16. Jack Slimp said on 22 Jan 2011 at 1:10 pm:
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    >Today, many Americans think that the First Amendment says “Separation of Church and State.” The Courts and the media will often refer to a ruling as being in violation of the “Separation of Church and State.” A recent national poll showed that 69% of Americans believe that the First Amendment says “Separation of Church and State.” You may be surprised to learn that these words do not appear in the First Amendment or anywhere else in the Constitution!1 Here is what the First Amendment actually does say.

    The First Amendment :
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    As you can see the First Amendment does not contain the words “Separation of Church and State”. The First Amendment gives citizens the Freedom to Worship God without Government interference. Assures that the Government will not establish a State Religion. That people are free to speak their minds without the government arresting them. Granting citizens to publish news that may be critical of the government without fear of arrest or fines, and finely the right of citizens to peacefully gather together or march in rallies or parades.

  17. Jack Slimp said on 22 Jan 2011 at 1:11 pm:
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    Re above:

  18. Often frustrated said on 22 Jan 2011 at 7:58 pm:
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    Not disagreeing with you.

    The American way is that the Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means, nothing more or less. Indeed, that is what the Constitution mandates — as that Constitutional mandate is inferred and interpreted by the Supreme Court. I strongly recommend reading a few Supreme Court opinions on church/state (or other) issues rather than articles merely summarizing or characterizing the Court’s opinions.

    You or I may disagree with one or many Supreme Court decisions. But I assure you that we Americans don’t get a fairer shake anywhere than before the Court. If you get a chance, pick a case — any case — then carefully read all the briefs and then attend the oral argument before the Court. It will be quite an experience, as will be the experience of reading everyone else’s characterization of those briefs and of how the Court later rules. Guaranteed that all sides (there are seldom only two sides) will have quite different interpretations of what happened, how the Court ruled, and what it all means.

    The briefs are all publicly available, the oral arguments are open to the public (and transcripts are available), the Court’s opinions are published on the Court’s website. No other branch of the Federal government operates with comparable transparency. Yet few citizens pay meaningful attention, relying instead on the biased opinions of editorialists and, yes, bloggers too.

    It’s quite disturbing when arguments are made against things the Court has not actually said, but none of us should be surprised by intellectual sloppiness, which is engaged in all too often by all sides of this and other debates.

  19. NoVA Scout said on 23 Jan 2011 at 8:03 pm:
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    So, Jack, are you saying that because the Constitution doesn’t use the phrase “separation of church and state”, it is acceptable to mingle the two? The First Amendment’s substance is dependent on protecting religion against contamination by state intrusion. Once we start down the road to theocracy, even in little, slippery slope increments, religion is the victim. There’s absolutely no need to mingle the two in the operation of government. The Founders knew this.

  20. Jonathan Way said on 27 Jan 2011 at 1:55 pm:
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    When requested, I often offer an invocation at VRE or PRTC meetings asking the Lord to bless our group and our efforts to do the right thing, and bless the US and all who serve her, Amen.

    If somebody doesn’t like it, they can choose not to listen.

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