By Maria Runde, August 23, 2009
Recent submissions to the opinion page have supported a moment of silence at La Crosse Common Council meetings. As a society, we have to understand that overt prayer to any god at any non-church function is an endorsement of that particular belief system. In the setting of a private function, like a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, one would expect prayer and adulation (ironically, one doesn’t see that at all; only drinkfests). One does not expect promotions of religion at tax-paid government functions like council meetings. What if your understanding of “god” does not correlate with the one presented at the meeting; to which god are you praying, the Christian God – Jesus, the Hebrew God of the Old Testament another god that predates the Old Testament? Furthermore, what if you were a worshiper of Allah or Zeus or Ra? In today’s pluralistic society, others’ beliefs are denigrated (as undemocratic and un-American). Taxpayers have to submit to the “educated judgment” of those elected officials who insist on prayer before meetings.
Wouldn’t it be better for each person to dedicate their day/activity to their deity in private, without such utterances before secular meetings? That way, each person’s beliefs are validated and not infringed upon by nor infringing upon anyone else’s beliefs. I would support a moment of silence before secular functions if the majority felt them necessary, but ideally, I think those of faith should pray on their own time and dollar.