In the land of the free and the home of the brave, a country full of people with diverse backgrounds, race and religion, it would seem a bit hypocritical for the Supreme Court of the United States to deem prayer before council meetings constitutional based on heritage and tradition. But that was just the situation of the majority earlier this month when it handed down its ruling on a case brought by the city of Greece, New York.
The majority stated:
“The prayer opportunity in this case must be evaluated against the backdrop of historical practice. As a practice that has long endured, legislative prayer has become part of our heritage and tradition, part of our expressive idiom, similar to the Pledge of Allegiance, inaugural prayer, or the recitation of ‘God save the United States and this honorable Court’ at the opening of this Court’s sessions.”
What the majority of the Supreme Court justices forgot, however, is that at least when it comes to the Pledge of Allegiance, the longstanding tradition of pledging “one nation under God” wasn’t added until 60 years after it was created. It seems as though we are in the habit of creating new traditions rather than adhering to old ones. But we digress. The reality of the situation is that prayer and religious practices should not be standard protocol in government proceedings and there is really no justifiable reason why they should be.
With the Supreme Court ruling, though, the Simi Valley City Council has already set the wheels in motion this week to include prayer before meetings. We understand that the city is traditionally conservative and Christian, but times are changing and in order to progress, creating new traditions that set back the clock are ill-advised. None of the 10 cities in the county hold prayers before council meetings.
As city councils and even county government ponder the idea of including prayer at their meetings, we beseech them to consider the repercussions, including ostracizing those of other religions whose gods are not addressed and those who do not profess any faith, and continue to hold public meetings as they have been. Religious practices are a personal matter and should remain that way.