God Responds to Administration Wish That He Consistently Attend Local Town Board Meetings

greece new york

Members of the Greece, N.Y., town council pray before a recent meeting. The prayers are the focus of a U.S. Supreme Court fight. (Heather Ainsworth / Bloomberg)

I was a little surprised on Friday to find a front-page LA Times piece indicating that the Obama Administration sides with conservative Republicans and the Religious Right in a Supreme Court case involving prayer at local government meetings.

The itty-bitty town of Greece, New York, is appealing a Second Circuit ruling that its longstanding practice of asking a local clergy type to come in and say an invocation violates the First Amendment’s separation of church and state. Conservatives, including the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defense Fund, welcomed the Solicitor General’s filing as a “pleasant surprise.”

Apparently Team Obama no longer listens to Barry Lynn, who stubbornly insists that government meetings are not church services. And they don’t seem satisfied with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s concept that prayers in public meetings constitute an endorsement of religion and thus cross a First Amendment line.

I won’t speculate on why the Obama Administration takes the position it takes or on what the High Court will do with the case. I am more interested in God’s POV here, especially inasmuch as an invocation is a specific kind of prayer that asks for God to be present and to bless the proceedings.

What follows is God’s interior monologue upon learning that Obama’s Solicitor General has sided with the town:

Greece, New York? Oh, right: Those guys have been asking me to show up for their council meetings for a long time. I tried to go once, but it’s really hard to pay attention. Nobody ever watches the meetings on public access TV, so why should I have to sit through them? Snow removal budgets, a new contract for the sanitation guys, that sort of thing.

I do remember from that one time I went that they awarded a nice fat plumbing job for the town hall renovation to the council chair’s brother in law. Maybe I should have tossed off a bolt or two to shake things up? I could’ve even put a little basso profondo behind it: “You say you want me? Well here I AM!”

But really, I don’t have time for any of this crap. Which is why I just can’t understand why Barack is telling the Court that it’s okay for every friggin’ town board and zoning commission in the United States to yammer for my presence as they wheel and deal and commit every imaginable malfeasance.

Such a disappointment, that Barack. With his terrific background in constitutional law, I thought I would not have my Name used in vain quite so often. But now he seems to be running with the pious crowd, and you know I just can’t stand false piety.

What was it I said in my Book? Oh, I remember: “These people draw near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

peter laarmanAnd Americans are the absolute worst when it comes to blabbing to me and nattering on about me without the slightest clue of what I want—and with no consideration at all for my privacy.
Oh, well. It is what it is. I will say this much: If somebody asked me (nicely) to spend some time with the folks in Detroit as they sort out that bankruptcy mess, I probably would go. I love my long-suffering Motor City people.

And in Greektown, unlike Greece, New York, you can at least get a decent burger with your beer when the meeting is over.

Peter Laarman
Religion Dispatches

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

 

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