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Fayetteville, Cumberland Ban 'Jesus' From Officials' Prayers

Posted October 5, 2007

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— Fayetteville and Cumberland County have taken an official stance on prayers by their employees at official functions: Not in Jesus' name.

In May, the attorneys for both Fayetteville and Cumberland County sent out memos to city and county leaders regarding prayers at public meetings. The rules applied to city council meetings, police graduations and memorials.

Fayetteville City Attorney Karen M. McDonald and Cumberland County Attorney Grainger Barrett both asked local-government employees to refrain from "frequent invocation of the name of Jesus."

"Who am I praying to, the wind?" asked Fayetteville Councilman D.J. Haire. "I think it's downright sickening what they want us to do."

Fayetteville residents have also expressed disapproval of the ban.

"There's something wrong with whoever came up with that idea," resident Henry McNeill said.

Attorneys asked for the ban after recent lawsuits, including one in Forsyth County in which three citizens were offended at hearing Jesus' name in prayers at county meetings. Both memos cited a 2004 case in which the 4th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that routine invocation of Jesus in the opening prayers of a South Carolina town's council meetings unconstitutionally endorsed one religion.

"Frequent invoking of the name of Jesus (or any other Deity) in opening prayer could lead to a lawsuit under the federal civil rights statute," McDonald wrote, in the memo.

"They're saying you can be free to be who you are as long as it fits into this little box, and I don't think it's right," Fayetteville resident Amber Evans said.

Fayetteville employees told WRAL they are not aware of any complaints about prayer in the city. Mayor Tony Chavonne was out of town and unavailable for comment.

The city has issued several generic prayers approved for public meetings. One reads, "We pray to the One up above."

Haire said he will refuse to read such generically worded prayers.

"I am a child of God first," he said. "I like being an elected official, but I'm not going to manipulate the Word of God to satisfy them."


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  • JohnnyMalaria Oct 7, 2007

    Crisp - in a purist christian perspective, your comments re Christmas and Easter are fair.

    However, most christians wrap their key events with wholly pagan concepts. That's been the success to christianity - spread the word (usually violently) and allow the 'converted' to keep their own pagan ways as long as they are dressed up in a conveniently abridged set of books belonging to christianity. For most christians, it is nothing more than a moniker. The religion provides a framework for the society to function and, historically in Europe, to appease the pope.

    Re the source of the quote, it seems you only looked at the first page. That's a bit like me looking at one page of the bible (which, incidentally, I studied as a youth as well as attending church every sunday, singing in the choir etc, prayed/sung hymns daily). I've walked in your religion's shoes and found it meaningless.

    Where are you quotes etc from? Or do I just have to exercise 'faith'....

  • Steve Crisp Oct 7, 2007

    To JohnnyMalaria again:

    "For the record, the underlying principles of paganism resonate very strongly with me and define my own personal spirituality. However, I am not religious."

    You practice a form of spiritualism that is rooted in paganism, whose essential belief is that the essence of a higher power infuses everything around us Some pagan sects also elevate specific named gods that perform specific functions.

    Yet you claim not to be religious.

    Is it any more possible to get completely contridictory within the context of two short sentances as you have?

    Unless you are an absolutist who adheres to secular humanism, and strong athiesm, you are indeed religious. Even then, iI would argue that athiesm is merely another form of religion whose belief system simply denies God via faith in that axiom.

  • JohnnyMalaria Oct 7, 2007

    Crisp - re Spanish Inquisition was authorized by pope Sixtus IV...

    Ferdinand and Isabella chose Catholicism to unite Spain and in 1478 asked permission of the pope to begin the Spanish Inquisition to purify the people of Spain. They began by driving out Jews, Protestants and other non-believers.

    It ended in 1834. How many innocent people died during those 356 years in the name of christianity? Sorry - but that's the way it is. Powerful people use your religion to commit atrocities. Ferdinand and Isabella also sponsored Columbus' voyage to the new world - resulting in some of the greatest acts of genocide ever committed. Celebrating him is no different than celebrating the acts of Hitler.

  • Tishrei Oct 7, 2007

    Moad stated "There is no reason to have public religious prayers especially at government functions. I support the total exclusion of all religions from any and all government functions."

    I am totally in agreement with that. Totally. As a matter of fact, I will no longer vote for anyone for any office who 1) refuses to answer the question "will you vote in favor of discontinuing any and all prayer associated with any government function" and 2) whose answer to the question is "no, I will not vote in favor of that".

  • Steve Crisp Oct 7, 2007

    The Bible does not ignore anything. Many scholars over many centuries made very wise decisions as to the legitimacy of what was included in the Bible and many texts were rejected for very legitimate reasons.

    I think you've been reading The Da Vinci Code too much.

    And do you even understand the whole concept of denominalationism? All Christian denominations are Christian; their individual beliefs outside of what makes them fundamentally Christian are what varies. But that does not alter the underlying Christian-ness of their nature.

  • Tishrei Oct 7, 2007

    Said "Lizard" at 08:22 pm on October 7, 2007 said ...

    Unless one prays in the name of Jesus Christ, God will not honor anything in it. No way to God except thru Jesus Christ.

    Lizard. Do you REALLY believe that God, or even Jesus Christ REALLY intends for you to disenfranchise most of the people in the world? Do you REALLY believe that God only listens to those who believe Jesus Christ is also God?

    Who in the name of ANYTHING AT ALL are you to condemn ME for my lack of belief? Where do you come off so high and mighty?

    I do not condemn you for your beliefs; instead I honor you for carrying them as strongly as you do; why do you find so hard to do the same for your fellow man? I do not tell you what you should believe, or what will happen to you if you don't. I DO ask you to have a civilized, intelligent discourse on them so that we may both gain from the discourse.

    Why can you NOT think for yourself? How DARE you condemn me to anything.

  • Steve Crisp Oct 7, 2007

    Making some sort of forced connection between Easter and Christmas with pagan rituals as being theological derivative is like saying that the 4th of July is derived from paganism because if falls within two weeks of the summer solstice.

    Is that really how you want to publicly present your logical ability?

  • Steve Crisp Oct 7, 2007

    Your pagan citation sure is interesting. Information provided by an unknown group who cites nothing within the context of their ramblings. Nice source there.

    But let's look at the first two claims they make so prominently on their home page.

    Easter and Christmas.

    Easter comes at pagan time of the spring renewal and Christmas pagan time of the renewal of the sun at the winter solstice. But there is a huge difference. Christianity for starters does not use colored eggs as part of any ritual I know and the Christmas tree is not a functional part of any rite.

    Easter is determined by the crucifiction of Christ and that is tied to the Passover from Judiasm. The actual date of Easter is a convenience in marking time for rememberence and has nothing to do with the ritual itself unlike the pagans who actually worship the equinox and celestial apperations.

    Christmas, though initially timed to counter the pagan Saturnalia, has nothing to do with it at all.

  • moad Oct 7, 2007

    There is no reason to have public religious prayers especially at government functions. I support the total exclusion of all religions from any and all government functions.

  • JohnnyMalaria Oct 7, 2007

    lizard - "Malaria - the Inquisition wasn't Christian,,,,it was Catholic"

    Huh? So was most of Europe. But Catholicism is a variant of Christianity. What variant do you follow? Why is it right? Is it because it suits your particular way of life.

    Christianity has split into so many factions - why? It's proven fact that the modern bible ignores many books that were written. Why? Christians fight bloody wars against other christians? Why? What were/are the ulterior motives? The same applies to Islam.