Peliasberg at AOL.COM
Peliasberg at AOL.COM
Mon Mar 13 13:32:47 PST 2000
I will only write one more time to point out that Rick has selected certain
portions of Marsh, while ignoring others, as well as ignoring the Supreme
Court's clear statements in Allegheny. In Marsh, the Supreme Court's
statement that the language of prayers should not be parsed comes only AFTER
the Court makes clear that the chaplain in the Nebraska legislature had made
the prayers nonsectarian by omitting references to Jesus Christ after a
Jewish legislator complained some years before. Subsequently, in Alllegheny,
the Court made the following statements:
"However history may affect the constitutionality of nonsectarian
references to religion by the government, history cannot legitimate
practices that demonstrate the government's allegiance to a particular sect
"Indeed, in Marsh itself, the Court recognized that not even the 'unique
history' of legislative prayer can justify contemporary legislative prayers
that have the effect of affiliating the government with any one specific
faith or qbelief. The legislative prayers involved in Marsh did not
violate this principle because the particular chaplain had 'removed all
references to Christ.'"
Justice O'Connor's concurrence makes the same point -- even the Marsh v.
Chambers exception for legislative prayer does NOT allow for prayers that
invoke Jesus Christ.
I do not dispute that there are serious questions as to whether a truly
non-sectarian prayer is possible in a theological sense. However the Supreme
Court has used to the term and believes that it has meaning. Thus, the most
faithful reading of Marsh and Allegheny appear to me to stand for the
proposition that even legislative prayers cannot be directed to a divine
figure, such as Jesus or Allah, who is only divine for one particular sect or
group of sects.
The statements from Allegheny seem to allow for no exceptions. Therefore, I
do not believe that Rick is correct when he says that the Supreme Court's
jurisprudence would allow for a cycle of different religious figures who come
into the legislature and give different prayers -- some invoking Jesus, some
invoking Allah, etc.
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