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What harm can a little prayer do?

There are times when you’re bound to wonder whether some people might have a tad too little to worry about.

Have your say

Dave, it is said that Google is not a synonym for research, and while Bob T seems to appreciate this and has looked deeper into the subject, you have pottered happily at the surface and dug out some half truths. Various state constitutions may well say that any belief is allowed, but in reality there may well be quiet (and possibly illegal?) background checks about any applicant. For instance. in the job I first got here, almost the very first thing I was asked was "which church do you go to?". A very simple question indeed, and how can you make people NOT ask that? And if that question is asked at an interview for a high ranking government post, what does the non christian applicant say?

I think that the best way for anyone to understand the situation here is to actually live here - no amount of googling will give the true picture.

Posted by Expat Marra on 24 February 2012 at 19:35

From the Arkansas state constitution:
Article 19 Section 1.
"No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court"

Posted by Bob T on 23 February 2012 at 12:59

My,my I do seem to have started something by responding to marra. A second response to him and Bob. T has taken a while as I needed to do some checking.
Firstly the Title VII of the 1964 civil rights act of the United States prohibits any company with more than 15 employees from practicing discrimination. This number was to allow family firms to employ who they want, or so I am advised.
Secondly the First amendment of the united States constitution protects freedom of religious expression in the Federal workplace. Government being considered a work place.
Now let us look at Bob.T’s list of states where atheists are allegedly not employed;
All I note are typical “red neck” states where religious persecution could possibly be expected. I went to the trouble of checking the three I considered likely to be the worst and most likely reluctant to employ Atheists; Maryland, Arkansas and Texas. I looked up government employment vacancies and downloaded application forms. Not one form from any of these states asked any questions regarding religion or sexual orientation. Unless someone is stupid enough to bring the subject up in any subsequent interview then there is no way that the employer can know. Anyone who is stupid enough to bring it up does not deserve to be employed.
I then wrote to the ARKANSAS government employment agency and below you can find the reply I received.
Mr. T,

No state agency or institution will be allowed to discriminate in hiring, promoting, disciplinary action, or any other way against employees based on their race, creed, religion, national origin, age, sex, or gender.
See the following links:
Discrimination policy -
State polices for personnel management link -
So it would appear that Bob.T’s list is not quite as accurate and truthful as he would have us believe.
Marra having lost one argument now widens the discussion to bring in other points that have nothing to do with the original question. Not only that he mentions another even longer list but doesn’t give it a title or detail any points to back up his arguments against the original points raised, how can I look it up if you don’t tell me where to look?. Marra base your arguments on proven facts not innuendoes. I take it from the fact that you had to thank Bob.T for providing the list of States, proven to be wrong, that previous to that you didn’t have one yourself?
Now regarding Prayers being on the official agenda of council meetings, please enlighten me; if a councilor comes late to a meeting after prayers have been said, is he not allowed to enter the chamber and take part in debates? I didn’t know this and if it is the case it is wrong. If I stayed out of a council chamber while prayers were being said I would not be excluded by others I would be excluding myself, by choice.
I wonder what "the councilor" does when a Christian friend dies and a religious ceremony is held. Does he not attend because prayers are said at the service? If he does attend what does he do when prayers are being said? I attend funerals out of respect to the person I knew, regardless. I have attended Christian, of most denominations, and Buddhist ceremonies, while others pray I bow my head and quietly think of the person I knew. It is so easy to do, I respect these people’s beliefs and traditions, I do not see why one councilor cannot do the same.
I don’t think Jesus said prayers should be carried out in private, if I remember one thing he said it was, “When two or more are gathered in my name”, added to which most of his teachings were out in the open were they not.
As for what is taught in British schools, well that is a whole new subject which I will not be drawn in to.

Posted by Dave on 22 February 2012 at 03:40

Thanks, Bob T, for the list of good ol' christian states. And for those who doubt my summary of the situation here in the USA (hi Dave!), have a look at this video:-

to see how "christian love" is demonstrated in today's America. It isn't pretty.

I'd not have considered myself atheist at all, some years back - Britain seemed fairly well balanced, religion-wise, with general acceptance of, for example, buddhism. paganism, ba'hai etc.

However when I see the christian right forcing schools to teach creationism as a science I get angry. And yes, this is just one example, Dave - the list is longer, look it up.

Anyway, as I asked earlier, would anyone want the incidents in the video above to happen in the UK? Dave?

Posted by Expat Marra on 21 February 2012 at 14:25

John asked:
Question: Are any of the athiests expressing their views here married?
Are you or your children christened?
Do you go on easter or chistmas breaks or eat christmas dinners?
Honest answers only please!

I am an atheist and I am married. My marriage & wedding was civil and had nothing to do with religion. Marriage is about 2 people, why does religion come into it?

We have no children and no we would not christen them, it would be very hypocritical.

We celebrate Christmas as you may have noticed times have changed, this country and the western world at least is consumed in December with Christmas, and it no longer is wholly attributal to Christianity. Yes that's where it stemmed from, but to us it's about family and love and enjoying time together and appreciating others.

So forgive me for not buying into the fairytale story that is the bible, or for believing in proven science rather than thinking there is an invisible man in the sky who loves us yet judges our every move and expects us to adhere to certain rules, 10 in particular. But I actually have a brain thank you.

Posted by Happy atheist on 21 February 2012 at 13:14

To BobT and Dave,

The prayers were on the official agenda for the council meeting. That means that, as an elected councillor, atheist or not, you'd be required to be present for all points of order on the agenda. It's not as simple as just staying away for the prayers and popping in afterwards.

It's not about having some harmless magical incantations before a meeting, or even an appeal to a higher authority (however pointless and ridiculous that might be), it's about the offical sanction of a specific religious belief and it's mandatory infliction on everyone, regardless of their own beliefs.

Simply put, Jesus himself said prayers should be done in private. By having publicly endorsed expressions of religous fervour, councillors are not only being theocratically imposing over other beliefs but also going against the very words of the man they profess to follow.

Posted by Nathan on 20 February 2012 at 08:23

@Dave: US states that preclude atheists from public office. Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas. Yes, it is against the US Constitution but there it is.

As to your penultimate paragraph. That is exactly the point. If you were a non-believing councillor you would stay out of the chamber until prayers were concluded. You would be excluded. Prayer is a religious activity which shouldn't be imposed on others.

Posted by Bob T on 19 February 2012 at 16:14

Well Marra you say a lot but don't appear to prove anything. The question was what harm can it do?
In your first point are you trying to say that the drought was prolonged because of the prayers? If not then no harm was done and the question has to be accepted. If you say harm was done then you are accepting the idea that there is a God and are therefore a believer.
Your second point; you make a statement not backed up by one fact i.e. "Many states in America" but you don't name one. did your memory fail you at this point or do you just not know any. According to an American friend I know this activity is illegal under the American constitution and would have been challenged in the courts years ago.
Then we come to the current Presidential Hopefuls wanting to prove which is "the best Christian". This happens with all politicians,not just American, don't we have parties in the UK trying to prove they are the most pro-homosexual and pro-womens rights just to gleen a few votes from them. It isn't the religion that is wrong it is the politicians.
Towards the end instead of giving all your other points which would draw us to your cause you merely added "and so it goes on and on" as if you have hundreds if not thousands of examples. If you have I do wish that you had given us good examples instead of the hackneyed ones that you have.
Then he asks, "We don't want this to happen in the U.K do we?" where on earth has he been for the last twenty years? This sort of activity has been practiced for decades not by Chrisitians but by the Liberal/lunatic left, or does he not realise what has gotten our Education system, Courts system and financial systems in to the state they are?
I have no objection to anyone praying to their God whatever they consider him or her to be. If I were a non-believng Councillor I would stay out of the chamber until prayers were concluded. Anyone who is embarrassed by there beliefs should not be a Councillor.
AS for my own beliefs, "I believe that there is no superior being, no God" I am an Atheist who respects the beliefs of others.

Posted by Dave on 19 February 2012 at 05:06

What harm can it do? Let's look at good ol' America:-

The governor of Texas held a huge prayer meeting last year to pray for rain during a long drought. He also used it as a way of showing what a good christian he was, and so was a good choice for presidential candidate. (the drought continued for several months, btw)

Many states do not allow atheists to hold office in government.

The current republican presidential candidates are all fighting to demonstrate which of them is the best christian, rather than how they would best run the country.

And the list goes on. And on, and on...

And NO ONE wants this to start taking place in the UK, surely?

So, Anne, if you feel that all the above is fine and harmless, then knock yer socks off. Just be aware that the christian right works by adding small items, one at a time, and screaming at people until it gets accepted. And if no one fights against it, all of a sudden you wake up to find you are living in a theocracy. Look up "boiling frog" on Wikipedia.

Posted by Expat Marra on 18 February 2012 at 16:31

Just reading the title of the story tells me its a Pickles piece.

"There are times when you’re bound to wonder whether some people might have a tad too little to worry about." thats rich coming from someone who writes stories about 'vests' and 'number plates'.

The God squad need to wind their necks in. Religion should play no part in government and religious rules should end at the door of the temple.

Posted by Godless on 17 February 2012 at 12:59

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