Letter: Kudos to Horton, Brooks for return of prayer

By Andrew Stoll

26 Comments | Leave a Comment

I appreciate the front-page article that you published Sunday, Feb. 3, concerning the return of an opening prayer at Elizabeth City City Council meetings. The council is getting back to the practice of our Founding Fathers, who knew that they needed the help of the all knowing and wise God in making decisions for the betterment of all.

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A little history...

First Prayer of the Continental Congress, 1774 O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. To Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give. Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle! Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior. Amen. Reverend Jacob Duché
 Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 September 7, 1774, 9 o’clock a.m.

I really don’t understand why so many people are upset...

Prayer has been such a pivotal part of this country’s history... our biblical moorings are evident in every founding document... self evident I might add... There is a monument in Plymouth, MA called the National Monument to the Forefathers. The central figure of the monument is Faith. She stands upon a main pedestal, one foot resting upon a replica of Plymouth Rock, and she holds an open Bible in her left hand. Her right hand points heavenward. The symbolism is trust in God and His unfailing words, written down for us in the Bible. This monument contains the very recipe for our democracy - and I encourage all to give it a quick study... Inscribed on top the Washington Monument are the words "Laus deo” meaning "Praise be to God”. Read the first prayer of the Continental Congress in 1774... The first text book in our schools was the Holy Bible. I could go on and on and on... Whether you believe in God or not - lets look at the context of Christian prayer and what is being sought when we fervently go to Him for guidance... Christ teaches that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. I can see where that could be problematic - why so many would be upset... If our City Council would practice what Christ taught - we’re all in for a blessing - and maybe the void in leadership we have in this country will start to wane... As President Roosevelt said - he being the liberal of all liberals... "I am certain that out of the heart of every man, woman and child in this land, in every waking minute, a supplication goes up to Almighty God; that all of us beg that suffering and starving, that death and destruction may end—and that peace may return to the world. In common affection for all mankind, your prayers join with mine—that God will heal the wounds and the hearts of humanity.”

What about an invocation

that begins with "Oh, Great Goddess, Mother of the Earth . . ."


The council would adopt the procedure and call in a tree hugger chaplain.... and then wait for the next city election.

Freedom of choice still stands

For those who choose public prayer, do so. For those who do not, remove yourself from their presence. When the prayer is over, rejoin them if you choose. It's as simple as that! Do you go to a super loud, hard rock concert even if you don't like that kind of music? Same thing applies. Don't like it, don't go. But don't tell those that do they can't go and listen!

Additionally; you wrote...

"It should also be helpful for members of the community to be invited to pray before council meetings. This will certainly get the community involved in the work of the City Council." Would you also consider it "helpful" for non-religious members of this community, those who not "pray", to get “involved in the work of the City Council”? If your answer is yes; do you think that they should also be allowed equal opportunity to give secular invocations during meetings just like the spiritual ones that the City Council now allows for religious folk? If your answer is no; do you believe that non-believers should not be involved in the work of the City Council, nor even be considered part of the community itself? Just curious, -JP

What would

a secular invocation look like and how would it relate to Divine guidance which is what is being requested? Personally I think it wise for only religious officials to offer the "invocations", with the approval of council majority. In fairness to all let's classify secularism as a religion.

Okay then...

...just for starters, let's take this one out for a test drive. "As the council gathers here to make laws affecting the people of Elizabeth City we ask that you not lower your heads and close your eyes. Instead; we ask you to lift up your heads, and to open your eyes and your minds to better see and understand the needs of this community that we all share and that you are sworn to serve." Would something like that work for you Paul? Cheers, -JP PS: Here's some advice. The "secularism as a religion" card is a very tricky one to play and if you choose to show it in the context of this debate, there is a very real chance that it just may backfire on you. Your move.

The Founders did not intend

for freedom of religion to be used as a method for promoting God-hating. The intent of the Founders was freedom of religion, never freedom from religion... but that is the end-game for the post modern humanist. Secularism does appear to have a religious aspect since it seems to take more faith to be one than it does to be a Christian. Under current federal guidelines if the majority of a city council adopted the humanist approach and brought in the equivalent of a humanist chaplain (whatever that is, that suggestion would be perfectly acceptable under the law (to the government, not necessarily to disciples of Christ or to the Almighty) and who knows, they might be able to actually pull it off if the whole country goes secular humanistic in which case God won't help us all.

Interesting idea,

So; given the “current federal guidelines”, would you support giving “humanist chaplains” equal opportunity to offer invocations at City Council meetings? Cheers, -JP

I thought

I made that clear. I don't support the humanist view but if a majority of the council adopted that approach it's perfectly legal and ethical. In that respect equal opportunity already exists. I wouldn't look for that to happen very soon. More humanists would need to be elected to the council.

So for you Twinstar, it's "the majority rules!"

We could argue this point forever. So instead I will simply present this little quote from one of the right's rising stars: "Of strong importance to me is the defense of minority rights, not just racial minorities, but ideological and religious minorities." Rand Paul I guess you won't be voting for him anytime soon. Cheers, -JP

an old liberal ploy is to

confuse minority rights with minority dominance.

"Old Liberal Ploy?"

But these are the words of RAND PAUL. Do you really think he is "an old liberal"? "Where do you get this stuff from Paul?" -JP

Somehow I find it hard to believe

That you actually thought I was referring to Senator Paul.

Let's check your argument by changing a few words...

"The council is getting back to the practice of our Founding Fathers, who knew that they needed the help of [chained slaves shipped in from Africa to make higher profits] for the betterment of all." How does it sound now? -JP

Thank God they did know they needed His

presence in their lives, which included government. If not for God's involvement we could still be enduring the evil practice.

It sounds just like

a Michael Moore "I hate America" speech.

Is that REALLY your best retort twinstar?

I'm disappointed in you. I am astonished that you of all people entirely missed the point of this post. Cheers, -JP

It seemed quite fitting a response

To such a presumptive statement.

What's "presumptive" about it?

Cheers, -JP

It presumes

A mindset without proof.



Under the formal rules of argumentation

it's called 'refutation by parallel reasoning', but I'll bet you already knew that.

No, I didn't know that,

but I do know that this discussion has reached a dead end. You seem to be getting tired, so I'll leave the last word to you.

In that case

thank you very kindly for the engagement in the free expression of ideas.

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