From Muslim Prayer to Moment of Silence to More Controversy September 17, 2010

From Muslim Prayer to Moment of Silence to More Controversy

In Connecticut, the Hartford City Council wanted local Muslim imams to deliver invocations during two of their meetings… it’s September and this was an attempt to reach out to that community.

The decision went over very well:

… it brought on a slew of hateful emails and phone calls. Amid the public outcry, the council revoked that decision after public outcry.

Instead of standing up for the Muslim community, Council President Jo Winch appeased the nutcases. There shouldn’t be prayers at these meetings at all, but if you’re going to do it, you ought to at least invite people from all backgrounds, Humanists included, to deliver the invocation.

But that’s too much for Hartford to deal with, I guess.

Winch said they’d do a moment of silence all month instead.

“We represent everyone in the city of Hartford,” she said earlier Monday. “So in an effort to not isolate or mistreat anyone, my decision was made to hold a moment of silence because that way everyone can participate and nobody is infringed upon.”

But after September, they’ll go back to infringing upon everyone who doesn’t believe in their god.

There’s an easy solution to all of this, of course.

Leave the public prayers at home. Stop wasting time with moments of silence. When you’re at work, stick to doing your damn job.

(Thanks to Lauren for the link.)

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  • They’re acting like cocky teenagers ignoring their parents advice. Perhaps now that they’re going through all these steps they might come to realize for themselves the utility of a separated church and state.

  • Jason

    A moment of silence is where it needs to stay. That accommodates everybody.

  • This could likely be challenged. Moments of silence that serve no secular purpose (as in “they won’t let us pray, so this could work”) have been ruled unconstitutional before.

  • The decision allowing government invocations is one of the Supreme Court’s most piss-poor opinions. The dissent has to come right out and say, “Wait, majority, you just decided not to apply any of our precedents. WTF?” (OK, it was a little more lawyerly than that.) But most city councils are still at least risk-averse enough to allow people of different religions to deliver the invocations. I’d love to see litigation by a Muslim group (or perhaps an atheist group — FFRF?) based on the Hartford brouhaha. The more difficult anyone can make government-sponsored prayer, the better.

  • Normally, the public should have a say so in what their elected officials do, but in this case… Fuck the public. Seems it’s Hatred 101 in another city.

  • I hope we can evolve past this sometime soon. No ceremonial deism, no moments of silence—nothing. To hell with all that feigned solemnity. Just do the people’s business. Municipal meetings should start thusly: “Alright, nice to see everyone. Are we all here? OK then, let’s begin…” Tell me what on Earth would be wrong with that?

    New slogan for municipalities who wish to avoid controversy so they can get down to business: K.I.S.S. (Keep It Secular, Stupid)

  • Richard P.

    Kind of reminds me of a speech that Obama gave recently about how tolerant the US is.

    Sorry, I just couldn’t resist..

  • Ron in Houston

    Another clear example of why no “prayers,” “moments of silence,” “invocations” or any other sort of wacky crap should be given before governmental meetings.

  • It seems Hemant would rather aggressively welcome Muslims into every aspect of politics and culture than being slightly intolerant, understanding the noxiousness of this particular religion, and actively discouraging imposition of Muslim culture onto the American majority.

    Funny that we have atheists stumping so often for the most violent religion.

  • muggle

    in an effort to not isolate or mistreat anyone,

    However, those godless folks, screw them.

    Sigh, OneSTDV, did you read the whole post? He’s for doing away with this crap. If you include one religion, you’ve got to include them all. Hemant’s last paragraph is what should be happening.

    Oh, and do you really think it’s okay for the majority to inflict theirs on the minority? ‘Cause, dude, it kinda sounds that way. I’m almost certain you didn’t mean it to but it comes across that way.

    And Atheists seem to be pretty evenly split on the issue. Imagine that. A group of people who have only that they all reject religion don’t necessarily agree on anything else. Hell, we even argue about the extent of our disbelief and how thoroughly we can declare there’s no god.

  • For the record, I am an atheist.

    He’s for doing away with this crap. If you include one religion, you’ve got to include them all. Hemant’s last paragraph is what should be happening.

    I used to be an atheist idealist and believe this could happen. It’s not going to happen, religion isn’t going anywhere, so realistic alternatives need to be considered.

    In this case, I’m looking at adding the Muslim prayer – that’s it.

    Hemant does excoriate those that oppose the inclusion of the Muslim prayer (“instead of standing up for the Muslim community…”) and does so in just about every Muslim related post, so he’s not merely arguing against abolishing all religious allusions.

    What I’m concerned about is the notion that Hemant and other liberal atheists seem to encourage the majority to actively include a religious tradition if that religious tradition happens to be Islam. Instead of giving up a little civil liberties in the pursuit of opposing religion, they obstinately adhere to the most unadulterated form of liberalism because they view Islam as the beliefs of an oppressed peoples. There are tradeoffs – I’d rather be intolerant and maintain a Christian America (or Europe), then be tolerant and allow Islam to take over. (More relevant to Europe though:

    I don’t believe the majority should impose itself on the minority, but I do believe it has a right to defend the cultural edifices of its nation, especially if opposed by something as deleterious as Islam.

  • MH

    Our town has a revolving invocation from the local clergy before town meetings. One of the town meeting members leaves for a few moments after the meeting comes to order, but before the invocation. At one meeting the members of a local conservative Christian church held up “Stay and pray” signs as she walked out.

    The kicker is that she’s not an atheist, but an observant Jew. She leaves because she feels that her religion bars her from participating in other religions.

  • ckitching

    OneSTDV, you linked to Pat Robertson’s organization. The same place that maintained that the recent Haitian earthquake was divine retribution for a supposed “pact with the devil”. Why should I believe anything written there?

  • I was only linking to the accompanying video – it speaks for itself.

    The scene shown is almost unbelievable.

  • Vene

    Christian, Muslim, it doesn’t fucking matter. They’re functionally identical. Places dominated by Christianity have made great progress, places dominated by Islam have made great progress. Conversely, places dominated by Christianity have done great harm and places dominated by Islam have done great harm. Right now Christianity tends to be a little saner, assuming you ignore third world nations. *cough*Uganda*cough*

  • Ryan

    This reminds me of a story my dad told me. He was at work, talking to his manager, a when muslim man came up and asked the manager which direction Mecca was so he could pray. The manager said, without fault, if he went into the cafeteria and prayed towards the window, it would be in the correct direction. The muslim man thanked him and off he went. My dad asked ‘How did you that was the correct direction?’, the manager’s reply? ‘I don’t, I just want him to get back to work as soon as possible’.

    My point of this is that we have quit wasting everyone’s time and to make sure people keep their faiths at home or at least away from work when everyone expects to get things done.

  • Bob

    If you can only do your job with a prayer beforehand to ensure your honesty and fairness, you’re not qualified for the job.

    Or does anyone want to volunteer that they’d actually make WORSE decisions in the absence of opening prayers?

  • Anonymous

    I think we should have bits of religious text as often as possible. Suggested passages:

    1 Nephi 4:13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.

    Revelation 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

    Surah 2:174 Lo! those who hide aught of the Scripture which Allah hath revealed and purchase a small gain therewith, they eat into their bellies nothing else than fire. Allah will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He make them grow. Theirs will be a painful doom.

  • muggle

    I know you’re Atheist, One. Said so right there in your post. My point was that Hemant didn’t say what you accuse him of. He’s not supporting any religion. If you’re accommodating, Christianity, you have to also accommodate Islam. Don’t like it? Start working to change things so that religion isn’t promoted at government meetings period. You know, like the Constitution mandates.

    If you’re too lazy or cowardly to do that, don’t complain when the Christian dominists come after you. Because frankly we’ve far more to worry about from them in the US than from Islam.

  • bonefish

    Aw, hell… civic bodies should just call the meeting to order and get on with the feckin’ business.
    Dump the moment of silence, dump the invocations, just do the damned job, fools.

  • When you live in a Christian country (whether you’re a Christian or an atheist) it’s much easier to see the multi-dimensional gradients that run from continua like Catholic to Protestant and “liberal” to “fundamentalist” and conservative to progressive. This gives you room to decide which group, for you, best represents this thing called “Christianity”.

    My position is that no matter which flavor combination is predominant, theocracy is evil, and small amounts of religion endorsement are quite bad.

    Right now, a noticible number of predominately-Muslim countries are theocratic, just as, long ago, the majority of Christian countries were. It’s no wonder that seemingly so much more “bad stuff” comes out of the Muslim world. So we get both Christians and atheists saying “Christianity goood, Islam baaaad.”

    No. Neither one is any less devoted than the other to the idea that faith is a valid and admirable way of figuring out how the world works, and by the way, it’s all here in this book. Neither is any less devoted to the noxious idea of “the power of prayer”. The only significant difference is that one of the faiths has (more of) the keys to its kingdoms.

    So what about OneSTDV’s argument that Christianity may be needed to “defend the cultural edifices of [a] nation, especially if opposed by something as deleterious as Islam”?

    All I can say about that is that atheism provides a much stronger argument against Islamic theocracy than Christianity does. The latter either accepts things such as the validity of faith-based reasoning and the derivation of legal principles from divine revelation, or it exists in a state of fuzzy incoherence. An atheist can much more firmly and non-contradictingly say “No, we will not allow your faith to dominate secular life” than a Christian can.

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