Major Step in Further Breaking Down Separation of Church and State:

Supreme Court Gives Green Light to Prayer in Town Meetings

May 9, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on May 5 that it is constitutional for legislative bodies to begin their meetings with religious prayers. This ruling overturned an appeals court decision against an upstate New York town council that had started every meeting with a ceremonial prayer—in almost every instance, an overtly Christian prayer. As part of the decision, written by Anthony Kennedy, the Court put forward, "Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this Nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government to alter or define."

In other words, the majority in the Supreme Court deems that religious "precepts" (principles intended as guide to conduct) trump civil law and the U.S. Constitution —and clearly, in the context of the ruling, what they are talking about are "precepts" based on the Christian Bible. Since there are "many Americans" who take the Bible literally, the Supreme Court decision is being seen as a major advance for those who want to impose fundamentalist Christianity over every aspect of society.

In the name of what most people believe and the “freedom of expression” of individuals (even if they be public officials), this decision further opens the door to establishing Christianity as the “approved” religion in America. And on that basis, a big step has been taken towards Christianity becoming the legitimate basis for deciding what the government can institute and enforce. 
This should raise big questions for many, many people: Do you want to live in a society where Biblical "precepts" such as these overrule civil law? 

The Bible contains many passages that uphold slavery, including the last of the Ten Commandments that instructs that God's people "shall not covet their neighbor's house, wife, male or female slaves, ox or ass, or anything else." (Exodus 20)

The God of this Bible insists that people who practice other religions or stand in the way of the will of this God be slaughtered—and, in the case of virgin women, raped and enslaved. (Deuteronomy 7; Exodus 32; Numbers 31)

The Bible spells out many "crimes" for which offenders shall be executed, including "he who insults his mother or father" (Exodus 21); "whoever does work on the Sabbath day" (Exodus 31); "the adulterer and the adulteress" (Leviticus 20), etc.

The Bible states that "If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death." (Leviticus 20)

In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus himself declares that he is the only way to salvation—meaning that those who don't follow him are condemned to eternal damnation, to the endless torture of burning in hell. (John 14:6 and 15:6)

We could go on and on.* But the point is that this Supreme Court decision is a major assault on the separation between church and state, one of the supposed pillars of the U.S. Constitution. In the history of the United States, this separation has been anything but absolute—the latest Court ruling itself references how the Founding Fathers funded chaplains for the Congress and how a Court decision 30 years ago found prayer at state legislatures to be constitutional. But the May 5 decision by the "highest court in the land" points to how seriously this separation is now under attack.

All this needs to be understood in light of intense efforts by fascist Christian fundamentalist forces, backed by powerful forces within the ruling class, to cohere or reforge the U.S. as a "united Christian America" on a white supremacist, male supremacist, "USA Number One" basis.  This decision should be taken together with other developments in society—including the recent Supreme Court ruling against affirmative action, the national stage given to fascist "folk hero" rancher Cliven Bundy, the Nazi-like campaign to hunt down and deport immigrants, and the war aimed at intensifying the subjugation of women, including taking away basic rights like the right to abortion and birth control.

*For more on the horrors that come from a literal interpretation of the Bible, see "God the Original Fascist" by A. Brooks and "Tips for Tim Tebow" by Bob Avakian; and the book Away With All Gods! by Bob Avakian. [back]


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