Stop prayers before City Council meetings
I join those opposing prayer before City Council meetings. Besides violating at least the spirit of the Establishment Clause, it violates the principle of separation of church and state. The Wars of Religion, which devastated Europe for centuries, and the tyranny and oppression in the Middle East today largely stem from one group trying to impose their religion on others.
Such conflict is inevitable because government is an agency of coercion. That's why we use it to stop criminals and foreign enemies, who can only be stopped with greater force. Turning government force against a religious minority only changes their behavior, not their minds. A mind cannot be forced. A gun is not an argument, as Ayn Rand said.
The result is an oppressed group just waiting for their chance to seize power and force their religion on everyone else. Civil strife is the inevitable result. Are we not seeing this now on a tiny scale here in Lowell -- religious groups arguing over which prayer the government should impose on people at City Council meetings?
Separation of church and state protects everyone from having religion imposed on them. The result has been centuries of relative religious peace and freedom here in the United States.
It's wrong for the city of Lowell to employ any prayer before council meetings because government exists to protect our rights and not to promote a religious agenda. The Lowell City Council should stop saying prayers before meetings and recognize people's right to make their own religious decisions.
DANIEL E. CALESS, Gloucester
Member, Atheists of Greater Lowell
Friday, September 01, 2006
More Against City Council Prayer in Lowell
Steve Berthiaume wrote to let us know that another letter to the editor has appeared from a local atheist speaking out against the violation of church of state inherent in opening a city council meeting with sectarian prayer. From The Lowell Sun: