Tag Archives: prayer policy

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.