Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Seniors Told They Can't Pray Before Meals 179

Seniors at the Ed Young Senior Citizens Center near Savannah, GA, have been told they can't pray before meals anymore out of fear of losing federal money for meals. From the article: "But Senior Citizens Inc. officials said Friday the meals they are contracted by the city to provide to Ed Young visitors are mostly covered with federal money, which ushers in the burden of separating church and state. On Thursday, the usual open prayer before meals at the center was traded in for a moment of silence."


This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Seniors Told They Can't Pray Before Meals

Comments Filter:

  • ...and how the hell did this make it past Taco?

    Or maybe the idea is that we are supposed to cheer this development?

    Or maybe Temple Beth El was leading the prayers, and that's why we're supposed to be in mourning?
  • FFS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @01:36PM (#32171872)

    More useless tripe from people who have no understanding of anything.

    Look, nobody is saying you can't pray. The only issue, if there really even is an issue, is that the organization can't lead the prayer. Individuals can do whatever the hell they want, and they can even organize and pray collectively. But the institution has to stay out of it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Locke2005 ( 849178 )
      Until one of the participants objects, I don't see what the fucking problem is. Ask everybody if they consent to participating in the prayer. If everyone consents, then the government should stay out of it. If someone does object, then you need to find a procedure that doesn't make them feel like they are being coerced into joining in.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Forcing people to publicly either consent or not consent places people in just as awkward a position. Would you really want to be the person that raises their hand and says "yes I have a problem with the prayer"? I'm calling reactionary bullshit on this anyway, but even if it's true, people are more than welcome to pray on their own.

        • Re:FFS (Score:4, Insightful)

          by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @04:24PM (#32174230) Journal

          If the majority of the people would like to have someone say a prayer, out loud, I see nothing wrong with that. The people who do not want to participate in the prayer can sit quietly for a few seconds out of respect for the people who do want to participate (by bowing their heads, closing their eyes, folding their hands, or whatever). It’s no more than I would do if I went to, say, a Mormon funeral, and they had a Mormon prayer. If the majority of the people want to have a prayer, the rest should be respectful of that.

          If your religion (or lack of religion) will not permit you to even listen to me pray, nor will it allow you to respectfully avoid making a disruption that prevents me from praying or distracts people who want to listen to my prayer, then your beliefs are intolerant of mine, not vice versa.

          In fact, that goes for any public setting... not just a prayer. If the majority of the people want a couple of troublemakers to shut up and be quiet so that they can hear the person who is talking, their right to hear the speaker should overrule those few people’s right to be noisy and disruptive.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kral_Blbec ( 1201285 )
            Unfortunately, the non-Constitutional separation of Church and State is now interpreted to mean a Constitutional endorsement of atheism.
          • If the majority of the people want a couple of troublemakers to shut up and be quiet so that they can hear the person who is talking, their right to hear the speaker should overrule those few people's right to be noisy and disruptive. Unless, of course, the interrupting asshat is a member of the House of Representatives [], in which case he has a right to do whatever he wants.
            • I’m willing to concede that it was rude and inappropriate of him to interrupt if you’re willing to concede that blindly swallowing anything Obama says is practically like a religion. :p

              • Blindly accepting everything that _anyone_ says is a mistake. The Dalai Lama says you shouldn't even believe what he says, unless it makes sense to you based on your own experience. Obama is a thoughtful and articulate man, but like every man he is still capable of making mistakes. Hopefully he has enough foresight to avoid epic fuckups on the scale of his predecessor!
                • Well... he did utter some pretty good ones on the campaign trail, and his Vice President hardly disappoints when it comes to frequency and hilarity of gaffes.

                  I do, however, agree with your first statement: Blindly accepting everything that anyone says is a mistake.

          • No! (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Demena ( 966987 )
            Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion. Majority rules is not good enough in this case. If anyone objects then it does not happen or happens elsewhere.

            You don't even get into the possible conflicts, muslim prayer, christian, hindu... Which one or each one by one?

            I do not have any 'lack' of religion. What I 'lack' is the stupidity of having a religion. Do you normally go around telling people they are lacking something?

            Do you even realise that you made a bigoted statement? When you acc

            • Bullshit. Your freedom of religion does not give you the right to prevent other people from exercising their own.

            • I lack a lot of things. I lack a hole in the head, for one thing. Saying I lack something doesn’t necessarily imply that I want to have it, nor does it necessarily imply that I ought to have it.

              Another thing I lack is a sense of insecurity or whatever else it would be that might cause me to go around taking offense at people for petty imagined slights when no offense was meant.

              • by sznupi ( 719324 )

                You most likely don't realise how pervasive (not quite "all-encompassing", but...) those "petty" things are in daily life. Not only because you (possibly?) consider yourself part of that social construct (so large portion of its influence is just "life as usual"), but also...don't really know any better.

                Me...well, let me put it this way. I'm originally mostly from Poland (officially arounf 95% Christians...); but this also means that right across the border (on which I basically live for now; border cities

                • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                  by clone53421 ( 1310749 )

                  And oh's so much nicer there.

                  You’re really going to have to expound on that. I have no idea what you’re getting at. Please don’t tell me you’re distressed just by having to drive past churches.

                  Now, the bets part - when your average "devout Polish Christian" goes, say, to Czech Republic (a lot of beatiful monasteries for example)...well, that person typically doesn't realize it was a trip to a very strongly atheist country. They just don't know. That doesn't work so well in the other direction. We know how to "not get in your way"...but here is the place for mutualism...

                  Evolution is equally pervasive where I am. I believe that God first of all exists, secondly could create, thirdly happens to have created, and while I really don’t care if someone disagrees with that, just about anywhere I go is saturated with evolutionary theory: billions of years this, millions of years that. In co

                  • by sznupi ( 719324 )

                    Oh, there are a lot of churches allright... (though admittedly some of them converted to buildings of public utility; at least there's some use)

                    It's just that hardly anybody verbally (or worse...) attacks my way of life. Nobody is of the arrogant position that I'm "poor" (that's a recent citation). Nobody forces on me performing their rituals (I'm not kidding, literally forcing oneself into my private space to perform a ritual on me). If this is about people who you come in contact with regularly...yeah, mu

                    • Look, you just described your situation, and I agree that (if it’s as bad as you claim) then you have cause to be irritated.

                      You then proceed to belittle my belief in a God who created. I told you what I believe. There is a conflict; the Roman Catholic Church happens to be, in my humble opinion, wrong about that – and a lot of other things. I offered it as an example, not just to “throw evolution into it”, but as a way to show that atheism and humanism are just as prevalent in my soci

                    • by sznupi ( 719324 )

                      Now realize that without some opposition (and safety checks in law, etc.; of which this /. story is about...even if the particular situation was handled poorly) - a large part of religions, when left to do what they want, reverts to such state (or worse). OK, you might be sincerely convinced that you would never support such things. But, by nonetheless identifying with them to some degree, you give them power. You agree almost fully with people who are just "a little" more towards the "extreme" side. And so

                    • I felt the need to share because people were being told that they couldn’t exercise their religion the way they wanted to, and I happen to think that is wrong.

                    • People do not have the right to silence someone else for different beliefs, either. That is exactly what happened at the senior center in TFA.

                      That is what religious intolerance means. I am not expressing opinion here; I am showing you the definition. There is nothing for you to “argue” about. it is fact.

                    • by sznupi ( 719324 )

                      Hence again illustrating, "only my group can decide what it means being left alone, what it means being reasonable". Not trying to come to some greater understanding, but just doing what "you feel is right"; working on the basis fait accompli, probing how far you can push it.
                      You can say that in a different, "nicer" way...but this won't change the essence of it.

                      OK, this is Slashdot...but this place is irrelevant anyway, we're really discussing rules of the society here. You said that you will just do somethi

                    • No, illustrating that the law decides what “being left alone” means, and it happens to mean that I get the same rights in public that you do, which includes being able to speak to whomever I want. Just as you have that right.

                    • Who is it who can’t distinguish fact from fancy?

                      The Supreme Court has ruled that religious speech is protected, under the first amendment, just as much as any other speech.

                      In fact, the University of Missouri - Kansas City attempted, in the late 1970s, to prevent the use of rooms (which were available to all student groups to reserve) by groups which intended to use the rooms for a religious purpose. The Supreme Court ruled:

                      Here UMKC has discriminated against student groups and speakers based on their

                    • by sznupi ( 719324 )

                      Accidentally, I didn't mention what one more thing when describing the situation - I don't have such law. "Hurting of religious feelings" (I kid you not, it's worded like that) is an offense.

                      Which of course is a direct evidence meaning either that, or the part about "freedom from religion" in the constitution is a fiction...they are mutually exclusive.
                      In practice this "don't hurt feelings" law applies mostly to the dominant religion of course, also somehow by proxy to the close ones, and not at all to mostl

            • by ArcherB ( 796902 )

              Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.

              Bullshit! Let's change one word twice and see if it still flies:

              Freedom of speech includes freedom from speech

              So, if freedom FROM religion means you can stop a group of people from praying, then freedom FROM speech means that I can make you STFU.

              So, let's try it out. STFU!

              If I see you post here again, that means that you agree with me that freedom of religion does NOT meant freedom FROM religion.

        • The ancient Greeks devised systems 3000 years ago whereby each citizen could voice their objections without their vote being known publicly. The term "blackball" still in use today is derived from one of those systems. And yet you can't conceive of any way for a person to object to a prayer without doing it in front of everyone else?!?
          • by sznupi ( 719324 )

            It wouldn't work so easily in a small community.
            It's not hard to have a small, "passionate" group that would start poitning fingers. Yes, they have some chance to be wrong in pinpointing the "guilty" what?

      • by sznupi ( 719324 )

        You've never heard about religious ostracism?...

  • Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2010 @02:10PM (#32172406)
    There is a big difference between "being forced to pray" and "being allowed to pray". As long as no one is being coerced into joining in, there should be no problem with public prayer. I'm a firm believer in separation of church and state, but that principle was intended to prevent the state from favoring one religion over another, not to forbid all public displays of religious practice. Those that don't wish to participate in the prayer should be allowed not to, just like those that don't wish to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance.
    • by sznupi ( 719324 )

      I take you live in a place without ostracism? Really?

  • The seniors can pray all they want, wherever and whenever they want. But the organization providing the meals cannot ask them or encourage them to pray, and a lout group prayer is not acceptable either. The organization can hold a moment of silence during which everybody can pray or do whatever else they like.

    Pray on your own time, not during federally funded events.

    • It is very simple to solve this democratically.

      Question 1: What sort of prayer you would prefer before meals (ex: Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, moment of silence, none; be as specific as you wish)?


      Question 2: Will you, or will you not, be able to respectfully and silently sit without disrupting the proceedings if the form of prayer that is given is not according to your own religious beliefs?


      Then choose a form of prayer (or no prayer) that, based on Qu

      • by jipn4 ( 1367823 )

        It is very simple to solve this democratically.

        Nazi Germany was overwhelmingly Christian and voted to deprive non-Christians of their civil rights and later kill them; tyranny of the majority is not democracy.

        The US Constitution has the non-establishment clause; you can vote as much as you want, it's not going away. You probably can't even eliminate it with a Constitutional amendment.

        • Ha! What a joke.

          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

          Now show me the law, made by Congress, that would respect the establishment of a religion if the seniors were allowed to have their prayer before they eat, which really sounds to me like the freedom to exercise their religion that was just affirmed by that very amendment.

          • No federally funded organisation would be allowed to say "Let's pray for a minute"

            But neither are they allowed to say "You're not allowed to pray"

            What they're meant to do is say "Here's the food" and then the seniors can do whatever the heck they'd like.

            • Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

              Explain to me how you get, from that, the notion that no federally funded organization would be allowed to have someone pray.

  • There was a classic (but perhaps apocryphal) story running around a few months ago about officials at a hospice for the dying who decided it was inappropriate for the visiting chaplains (of various denominations, Christian and non-Christian) to refer to God when privately counseling their patients.

    If it's a government-run institution that feels they can't sanction grace before meals, somebody could help the interested people gather privately and informally a few minutes beforehand to have their prayer befor

    • I think you have to right idea, but the wrong scapegoat. It appears to be the vice-president of the privately run company that provides the food that is afraid that their federal funding might be in peril because of the prayers.

      Mostly it seems to be one old fool who's thrown a spanner in the works. The Senior Citizens Inc. company should stick to delivering the food, what's said before or after should be no concern of theirs as long as they are not the people saying it. They don't even own the venue wher

I've got a bad feeling about this.