The American Civil Liberties Union (aka The Progressives for Litigation Union, or the Anti Christian Lawyers Union) on behalf of Sharon Brenner Cadalzo has brought a lawsuit against the town of Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey to stop a Christian prayer from being said before every town council meeting.
Ms. Cadalzo, who is Jewish, said it made her uncomfortable to hear the Christian prayer. The prayer she was "subjected" to was The Lord's Prayer. My question for Ms. Cadalzo, Why would it make you uncomfortable to hear a prayer to your own God? The Lord's Prayer was spoken by Jesus and his disciples and followers and refers to the Judeo/Christian God – the same God and creator of the universe the Jewish people pray to. The words of this prayer are hardly foreign ideas to Jews and the prayer is in fact similar to some Jewish prayers and phraseology contained in the Jewish Bible. So in my mind it engenders some incredulity and some suspicions as to the motivation for her taking this action.
So by now you may think I'm heading in one direction about this topic. But you'd be wrong. While I absolutely disagree with the idea of taking celebratory symbols and decorations like Christmas trees and Menorahs off of public property, because cultural celebration is not proselytizing, in this case I have to agree with the ACLU and Ms. Cadalzo.
Though the Christian prayer wouldn't make me uncomfortable being Catholic myself, I do think in this day and age when there are so many other religions interacting in public life (and so many atheists, bless their souls) that perhaps it is unfair. The prayer certainly does seem to run afoul of the state and federal constitutions, though in the end, that is an interpretive matter for the Judges or Justices to decide.
I have to say that if I was at a town council meeting and the council president, or clerk kneeled and said a prayer towards Mecca, I would be uncomfortable. Additionally, there are lots of people in New Jersey from India. Maybe some of them would like prayers said to the Hindu gods Vishnu or Brahma. And where would the line be drawn.
In this one case regarding the ACLU, I have to agree. That's one can of worms that should not have been opened in the United States and in New Jersey. Public officials, performing public duties should not be reciting the prayers of any religion before or during public business. It is an activity leaning too close to the sanctioning of a particular religion.
Two books you might enjoy...
The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values.....
In Defense of American Liberties, Second Edition: A History of the ACLU