Help Fight the Forsyth Prayer Ruling or Play the Lottery

I suspect some people in Forsyth County are going to gamble, and lose, in the fight against a federal judges ruling against the county commissioners' prayer policy. You ask me they'd be better served playing the lottery.

Here's why this is silly: no one has been barred from praying to whatever deity they desire at the commissioners' meeting.  In fact, if you feel so strongly about praying at the meeting you can just sign up for the public comments segment of the meeting and pray to your hearts content.  Pray to Jesus, pray to Allah or pray to Oprah; it doesn't matter because it's your right as a citizen.  All the ruling basically said is that the commissioners can't sanction sectarian prayer and that's what they've done by inviting so many Protestants to open the meeting.  

What truly irks me is that this is being passed off as an infringement on citizens' rights to freely practice their religion when in reality it's nothing of the sort. My own view is that this is more about people seeing their traditional community, the community that for generations was primarily Methodist and Baptist, with a smattering of other Protestants and the occasional Catholic, Jew or, gasp, Mormon under assault from "outsiders."  Today's Forsyth County is very different from the Forsyth County my parents knew when they were growing up.  Thanks to institutions like Wake Forest, Sara Lee and Reynolds many of the people moving here are from other parts of the world, and those parts are very different culturally than the Camel City.  Since religion is such a central part of many people's lives here it's not surprising that this issue would become a focus of their disenchantment with the changes they're seeing.  

If you think I'm off base here go take a look at the comments under the Winston-Salem Journal's articles or WXII's stories on this issue and see how many of them say something like "America has always been a Christian nation and always will be." It would be easy to dismiss the comments because they could be debunked by any 10th grader who paid attention in US History class, but I think it's important to recognize the emotions behind them.  I think it would be accurate to say that the piece of America that most people in Forsyth County have known,and their parents and grandparents knew, was grounded in a predominantly Christian culture. Now the diverse America that places like NY and DC have known for generations has seeped into the Piedmont Triad and these folks are losing the "America" that they've always known.

Change is hard for most of us to accept, and Lord knows there are plenty of times I pine for "the good old days," so I do feel some sympathy for the people who are troubled by this ruling.  On the other hand I feel even more sympathy for the non-Christian citizens who, in order to participate in local government, are forced to sit through a prayer to a God they don't believe in. In fact I don't even like that non-Sectarian prayers are allowed (most people are confused by that too, but that's another post entirely). I know there are plenty of people around here who disagree, but that's just how I see it.

4 thoughts on “Help Fight the Forsyth Prayer Ruling or Play the Lottery

  1. Dwight Defee

    Jon,
    Thanks for your comments on this issue. I, for one, concur with your view. During my lifetime (longer than I ever thought possible) I have been exposed to and sometimes a part of many different ways of looking at life and community. I suppose it was during my Marine Corps experience that I first began to realize that we Americans are far more alike than we are different.
    With your blog heading “Help Fight the Forsyth Prayer Ruling…” I thought for sure He’s going to suggest a way for me to help him fight this nonsense. But alas, I was not paying sufficient attention. I suppose I am left with the alternative to vote against the Commissioners who support an appeal: However, I would probably have voted against them anyway for other good and sufficient reasons.
    Dwight

    Reply
  2. Jon Lowder

    Hi Dwight,
    Thanks for the comment. Im tempted to say that we dont need to fight
    the issue because the county doesnt stand a snowballs chance if they
    appeal. On the other hand I hate to see county resources being
    diverted to the case. Even if another group offers to pay the ACLUs
    legal fees there will still be a need for county staff or elected
    officials to meet with their own lawyers, provide documents, etc.
    Thats an opportunity cost if nothing else.
    Id say the best way to fight it would be to speak against it, write
    to all the commissioners, or if you have the desire, organize a
    petition.
    The good news in all this is that everyone involved is exercising the
    most basic American right: free speech.
    Thanks again.

    Reply
  3. Jim Caserta

    When I hear about religion in the public sphere, and often in schools, I think about when Pedro was running for class president in Napoleon Dynamite.
    “Hello.
    I don’t have much to say.
    But I think it would be good to have
    some holy santos brought to the high school…
    to guard the hallway
    and to bring us good luck.
    El Santo Niño de Atocha is a good one.
    My Aunt Concha has seen him.”
    I wonder how people here would take having very Hispanic-Catholic imagery in their schools. It’s not that they want religion in schools or county meetings, they want their religion in schools, and that is the problem I see.

    Reply
  4. Lex

    One of the things that struck me hardest when I covered religion for the N&R was the limitless capacity of certain conservative Christians to bestow upon themselves the mantle of victimhood.
    Week after week, I would get these carelessly typed e-mails, sent off from the comfort of a warm, wood-paneled den, about how Christianity was under assault in America like nowhere else in the world.

    Reply

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