Saturday, April 5, 2014

Article on Official Using GW's Phony Prayers

From the Baltimore Sun. A taste:
She said that she would be using the words of George Washington as she prayed, quoting, “I beseech thee, for the sake of him in whom thou art well pleased, the Lord Jesus Christ, to admit me to render thee deserved thanks and praises for thy manifold mercies extended toward me.” 
The text of the prayer matches that of one ascribed to Washington in a 1919 book, but William M. Ferraro an associate editor of the first president’s papers at the University of Virginia, said there is no evidence the words are his.
Be sure to read on and check for what Thomas Kidd has to say in the article.


Tom Van Dyke said...

The rather insignificant misattribution BS serves to smokescreen the real issue, invoking Jesus Christ in public prayer.


Stuff happens, even to the best of us.

Bill Fortenberry said...

I searched for Kidd's statement in the Baltimore Sun article and noticed that they followed his statement about a lengthy history of legislative prayers with the claim that these prayers are "a custom that courts have grappled with for years." This is followed by the statement that "A landmark 1983 case pointed to tradition as an important reason for letting the practice continue." The clear implication is that the 1983 Marsh v. Chambers case was a significant case towards the end of a long string of cases over this issue. In fact, the exact opposite is true.

Marsh v. Chambers was not a landmark case in the middle of a lengthy controversy over legislative prayer. It was the very first such case ever to be heard by the Supreme Court, and perhaps the most significant fact about this case is that the issue of legislative prayer was never considered to be an issue for the courts opinion during the nearly two hundred years of legislative chaplains praying in the name of Jesus Christ which preceded that case.

Additionally, the Marsh court specifically declared that they had no jurisdiction over the content of legislative prayers. Mr. Cronk, the attorney for the state of Nebraska, admitted in his oral arguments that many of the prayers being challenged in that case included references to Jesus Christ. When asked "Do you have any prayer in there that doesn't invoke the guidance of Christ?" Mr. Cronk replied:

there are prayers that make reference to deity identifiable to the Judaeo-Christian heritage, as Chaplain Palmer put it. There are certain prayers that expressly mention Jesus Christ. I think the record reflects roughly half, a little less than half of the prayers, in addition to making reference to deity, that might be identified in the Judaeo-Christian heritage, do mention Jesus Christ.

In spite of this admission, the justices expressly stated that they did not consider the act of praying in the name of Christ to be a violation of the establishment clause. The conclusion given in the majority opinion stated that:

The content of the prayer is not of concern to judges where, as here, there is no indication that the prayer opportunity has been exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief. That being so, it is not for us to embark on a sensitive evaluation or to parse the content of a particular prayer.

Thus, Justice Quarles' injunction that Carroll County refrain from praying in the name of Jesus Christ stands in direct opposition to the original position of the Supreme Court on the issue of legislative prayer.

Bill Fortenberry said...

By the way, the majority opinion of Marsh v. Chambers can be read at:

And the oral arguments are available at: