Carl H. Esbeck, a law professor at the University of Missouri, writes at Christianity Today why today’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of sectarian prayers in Greece, New York was a bad decision for Christians:
A second harm is that evangelicals are mistrusted. Given the deep differences among Americans, evangelical voices have rightly appealed to pluralism as the means for citizens to coexist peacefully, respecting disagreement while working together on those things that do unite us as a nation. But this principled pluralism is made to be a lie when evangelicals employ the state to promote Christian prayers.
The third harm flows from an overly cozy relationship between government and willing local clergy. That the Christian faith receives succor from the city’s prayer policy makes it less likely that the church will raise its prophetic voice to criticize the town board when it undertakes bad policies or its officials misbehave.
Esbeck nails it here. There are plenty of legal reasons to be worried about the ramifications of the Court’s decision, but even Christians who think they scored a major win shouldn’t be doing a victory dance just yet.
There will come a time when Christians are not in the majority anymore — decisions like this will only serve to hasten that process. And there’s good reason to believe that while pro-Jesus invocations may become more of a norm, so will non-Christian invocations that make the current majority wince.
Just remember: It’s the Christian Right that wanted this victory. So it’s up to the rest of us to make sure we’re delivering invocations that don’t honor their God, just to give them a taste of their own medicine. Let’s see how quiet they remain when a Muslim or Wiccan or Pastafarian gets in front of a city council and leads the government worship service.