Friday, November 22, 2013

Christians on Top

The Supreme Court is hearing a case that involves Christian prayers at town board meetings of elected officials. Because the prayers are Christian, which is on top of our religion hierarchy in the U.S., for centuries many people have not questioned whether the practice is in violation of the separation of church and state and say that the prayers are inclusive of the nation. Obviously this opinion is based on hierarchy because what is good for the top is considered to be acceptable for everyone in the hierarchy.

The religion hierarchy is so strong in the U.S., particularly among the right wing who depend on religion to maintain their power and their base, that just talking about Christian prayers cannot provide enough traction to make the hierarchy visible. Columnist Jeff Schweitzer uses role reversals to bring focus to the special privileges  that Christianity enjoys.  

"The obvious problem of course is that not all citizens believe Christ is our savior. No big deal, you say? What is the problem you ask? Would any Christian or Jew tolerate a town meeting opened exclusively with an Islamic prayer from the Quran? How would our Christian citizens feel if the meeting were opened with pleas to Allah? Or if the opening prayer was done in Hebrew? The answer is obvious and self-evident: it would be offensive, and clearly counter to the ideal of freedom of religion. That reality simply cannot be denied. Still not convinced? Then imagine an imam, bearded and turbaned, in traditional dress, standing before our United States Congress, invoking the Quran to open every session of the House and Senate. Not comfortable with that? Then imagine how every Jew, Muslim and Atheist feels with each opening of a government meeting with a Christian prayer."

To understand the possible liabilities to a person who is considering holding the top accountable by objecting to Christian top-of-the-hierarchy practices, we can read comments from Barry Lynn:  You need a zoning variance for your small business. You will need a majority vote and you will be noticed – and indeed singled out – if you happen to reject the prayer-giver’s invitation to “bow your head,” “join with us” or “stand up.” What attorney would counsel a client to make herself known as a person not going along with the crowd as she, moments later, seeks assistance from that body?