Just Don’t Mention the J-Word

Now if he had mentioned Mohammad:

A North Carolina pastor was relieved of his duties as an honorary chaplain of the state house of representatives after he closed a prayer by invoking the name of Jesus.

“I got fired,” said Ron Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. He had been invited to lead prayer for an entire week but his tenure was cut short when he refused to remove the name Jesus from his invocation.

Baity’s troubles began during the week of May 31. He said a House clerk asked to see his prayer. The invocation including prayers for our military, state lawmakers and a petition to God asking him to bless North Carolina.”

“When I handed it to the lady, I watched her eyes and they immediately went right to the bottom of the page and the word Jesus,” he told FOX News Radio. “She said ‘We would prefer that you not use the name Jesus. We have some people here that can be offended.’”

When Baity protested, she brought the matter to the attention of House Speaker Joe Hackney – a Democrat.


6 thoughts on “Just Don’t Mention the J-Word

  1. I just happened to bumble onto this site while looking for something else, and after reading this story, I thought it might be worthwhile to find out some more about what happened. So I did a bit of a search, and discovered something interesting: Google turned up about 1,000 hits on the search phrase “Ron Baity” + Jesus. Examining these, I found that the source of this story is Fox News, and the great majority of other references to it come from conservative blogs. I did, however, find two other news stories about it, both in local newspapers, saying that the politicians would reconsider their policy. Here’s the money quote: “House Speaker Joe Hackney and Minority Leader Paul Stam said in a joint statement the House has requested guest chaplains deliver nonsectarian prayers as a sign of respect to the many faiths practiced in the House and statewide.”

    The problem, of course, is the First Amendment, which proscribes any action by government that endorses any religion. I believe that Congress opens its sessions with a generic prayer that does not refer to any particular religion. I’m sure that you would agree that opening a legislative session with a prayer invoking Allah would be inappropriate.

  2. I think if you were to actually READ the first ammendment instead of relying on the liberal brainwashing you received in school you would see that it says:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    So wouldn’t it make sense that prohibiting someone from praying in Jesus’s name, or Buddah’s name, or Jehovah’s name be “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”? And just how would having someone offer a prayer (which was requested by the legislature) in Jesus’s name ESTABLISH a religion.

    This ammendment was all about preventing the creation of a state religion (i.e. Church of England, or the Catholic Church). Not about preventing any kind of religious activity.

  3. The point you make has been argued many times, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has made it clear that the leading clause prohibits any reference to religion whatsoever. I suspect that the key factor you misunderstand is the meaning of the word “respecting”. The modern meaning of the word usually has a connotation of deference. However, the meaning of the word back in 1789 was closer to “regarding” or “concerning”. Indeed, we still have the phrase “with respect to”, which means much the same thing. Thus, the First Amendment, when translated into modern terms, means: Congress shall make no law regarding religion. That applies to everything done by the Congress, and, because of the 14th Amendment, applies to the states as well. Thus, were the state house in this case to establish a policy that any specific religious reference, including “Jesus”, “Christ”, “Allah”, “Isis”, “Zeus”, or “Kali” were permitted, they’d get yanked into Federal Court in a minute, and they’d lose. Indeed, a strict interpretation of the First Amendment forbids any use of the word “God”, so strict constructionists should be opposed to the use of the phrase “In God We Trust” on our currency. I suspect that you prefer a looser interpretation of the Constitution.

  4. Let me now directly address your points:

    “So wouldn’t it make sense that prohibiting someone from praying in Jesus’s name, or Buddah’s name, or Jehovah’s name be “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”?”

    Indeed it would constitute a prohibition of free exercise if you prohibited somebody from praying. However, freedom doesn’t mean license. If Congress is debating some bill, and a visitor starts loudly praying, there’d be no prohibition in requiring them to shut up or get out. The preacher in question is still free to pray in any appropriate venue. He just isn’t allowed to exercise his religious freedom in a manner that intrudes into the functioning of the legislature.

    “And just how would having someone offer a prayer (which was requested by the legislature) in Jesus’s name ESTABLISH a religion.”

    Again, a strict interpretation of the Constitution would make the legislature’s request unlawful. However, you are again applying a modern interpretation of a old term. The term “establishment” (NOT the verb “establish”!) referred to any organized religion.

    “This ammendment was all about preventing the creation of a state religion”

    Indeed it was. The point was to insure that nobody used the power of the state to advance the cause of any religion. Thus, if Congress were to pass a resolution that “We think Lutheranism is really peachy!”, that would constitute an endorsement of religion, and would be tossed out by the Supreme Court. A “state religion” is not a building with a preacher and churchgoers: it is ANY use of state resources to further ANY religious belief.

    “Not about preventing any kind of religious activity.”

    Absolutely! And people in this country are perfectly free to pursue whatever religious activities they chose SO LONG AS THEY DON’T INTERFERE WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S ACTIVITIES!

  5. So for 200 years, until a bunch of liberals who found the invisible “penumbras” in the constitution that guaranteed a right to abort your children right up until the second before birth, praying was not considered the establishment of religion. Right now there might be 100 million Americans who are praying, and they aren’t “establishing” a religion either.

    Only to the virulently anti-Christian left would using the name “Jesus” in a public space be considered the establishment of a religion. And its just as silly to say we are a Muslim nation because the name Mohammad is used in a public space.

    Its the hard bigotry that tries to interpret the Constitution as being a freedom “from” religion instead of what it actually says, that would argue anything in this regard.

    However, their willingness to deny all religious activity (well, Christian activity anyway) simply shows their intolerance. It will never actually stop it from happening.

  6. Actually, the chipping away at religious endorsements by government goes back quite some ways. The Supreme Court first addressed the matter in 1899 and has laid down the basic principles with ever greater explicitness since then. Nor is it correct to claim that separation of church and state dates to the last fifty years; the concept originated with Jefferson about 200 years ago.

    Moreover, you certainly can’t claim that the Supreme Court of the last 20 years has been a liberal court.

    “Only to the virulently anti-Christian left would using the name “Jesus” in a public space be considered the establishment of a religion.”

    No, but ENDORSEMENT of religion is out of bounds.

    “Its the hard bigotry that tries to interpret the Constitution as being a freedom “from” religion instead of what it actually says, that would argue anything in this regard.”

    Well, *I’m* certainly not arguing for freedom from religion. I’m arguing for absolute neutrality on the part of the government. The government should not be in the religion business. That’s for churches, not legislatures. Doesn’t that seem reasonable to you?

    And I’m certainly not intolerant of religious activity. If you want to worship skunks, that’s your own business. Just don’t bring them into a public area, OK?

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