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Seniors told they can no longer pray before their meals

May 12, 2010

  Have you heard the joke about the senior citizens who were told they could no longer pray before they ate their meals because the meals were provided by the government? What? Wait a minute…this is no joke. This is a true story.

  I first read this story at Conservative Hideout, so a hat tip is in order. Props go out to Matt for finding this story.

  Senior Citizens Inc. provides meals for senior citizens at a discount rate; a meal that would normally cost $6 only costs the seniors at Port Wentworth’s Ed Young Senior Citizens Center in Georgia $.55, the government picks up the tab for the rest of the bill. Because the federal government foots the rest of the bill, Senior Citizens Inc. has instituted a policy that there can be no prayer before the meals are served. They have instituted a moment of silence instead. Their defense is that they are not telling the seniors that they cannot pray before they eat, but rather that they must use the moment of silence to pray to themselves so that nobody else can hear them.

It’s interpreted that we’re telling people that they can’t pray, but we aren’t saying that,” he said. “We’re asking them to pray to themselves. Have that moment of silence

  Naturally this all comes back to the whole separation of church and state argument; a concept that appears not in the constitution but was taken from a letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists in 1802. It would be worthwhile to note here that Thomas Jefferson was lukewarm at best to the constitution upon first reading it, fearing that it gave too much power to the federal government– specifically in regards to the presidency– and took too much power away from the states. It is also true that he was a fierce defender of the theory of the “seperation of church and state” and even set up one of the first– if not the first– secular universities in the country, but the fact remains that the “separation of church and state” appears nowhere in the constitution. He believed that all Americans had the right to worship– or not worship– in any manner that they saw fit.

  The actual text of the constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Can someone explain to me how a senior who says Grace before he or she eats a meal that was mostly paid for by the government constitutes the “establishment of religion” by the congress? Can someone explain to me how telling a senior that he or she cannot say Grace before eating the same meal is not being prohibited from the free exercise thereof?

  While one may argue that congress has not passed this law, the fact remains that a company working in conjunction with the federal government is telling a person how and when they can pray, and any way you cut it, their freedom to exercise their religion is being violated.

  The constitution does not say that a person may not pray if there is a chance that someone in the vicinity may be offended. Likewise, the constitution does not include a “right to never be offended.”

  This is a clear cut case of political correctness run amuck, and a clear misunderstanding of what the “freedom of religion” amendment in the constitution means.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2010 8:44 am

    As long as they’re given a moment of silence, I have no problem. Ever heard some moron get political during prayer/grace? Reason enough to keep it quiet and to ourselves.


    • The Georgia Yankee permalink
      May 13, 2010 9:56 am


      But to tell the truth, I don’t care what your political leaning is, if you love this country, you pray that God blesses the President and the Congress.


    • May 13, 2010 8:59 pm

      I still think that it is wrong and unconstitutional that these people are being denied the opportunity to pray the way that they feel fit. What harm is it doing to antone if these people sat grace out loud before they eat?


  2. The Georgia Yankee permalink
    May 13, 2010 9:55 am

    Boortz was talking about this earlier in the week. At first I thought perhaps the people in the adult daycare facility were leading the prayers, and of course I thought of the inevitable jokes like “around here, we pray after we eat!”

    It turns out that some of the seniors were praying out loud.

    As you said, it’s the catering company that’s violating their rights by insisting that the seniors not pray out loud. Unfortunately, it may take the efforts of a federal judge to set the company right.

    Of course, it applies to everyone, so if Muslims or Jews, or whoever, are praying over their meals, out loud or silently, it’s nobody’s business but theirs and God’s.


    • May 13, 2010 9:01 pm

      Exactly! How does it hirt anyone else if these people say a little prayer out loud. I person is not supposed to be ashamed of being relirious, if a person wants to say a prayer out loud and is not demanding that others pray with them, that is their business alone.


  3. Mark permalink
    May 13, 2010 12:33 pm

    Let them pray their fool heads off, for all the good it does. And besides, I thought that prayer was supposed to be a private act, not a public display of piety. This is a non-story.


    • May 13, 2010 9:03 pm

      There is nothing wrong with a person showing an outward affirmation of their faith. What does it matter to you if they pray. When a person is being denied a constitutional right, whether or not you argee with the person’s views shouldn’t matter. The fact that these people are being denied a right IS a story. Peerhaps someday you will be denied a constitutional right, then you will understand. The question is, will you be up in arms or will you still feel it is a non-story?


      • Mark permalink
        May 13, 2010 9:20 pm

        With all respect, no one is being denied the right to pray. They can pray to any of the 30,000 gods that are being worshiped on this planet that they want to. The point is that the government has no place in the religion business. Prayer is supposed to be personal and private, as I believe the Christian bible directs its adherents. Not everyone in a nursing home is religious. You must realize that there are 30 million people in this country that have no regard for religion or superstitious behavior whatsoever. Personally I’ve never found any efficacy in religious belief and find it insulting when someone in a group of people takes it upon themselves to force their superstitions on others in the room. I will usually ask them to keep it to themselves or I will simply leave the room. Seniors in a nursing home may not have the physical ability to do either and they should not be forced to listen to what they may consider absurd behavior any more than they should have to listen to someone read horoscopes. The reasoning behind this decision makes perfect sense to anyone other than the deluded. Again, with all respect.


      • May 13, 2010 9:53 pm

        Mark, you made my point in your third sentence. The government has no place in religious business, they are interferring in religion here.
        I for one would not be offended if I heard a person praying to a god that I do not believe in, that is their right. I am not that easily offended. I don’t see any evidence that these people were forcing any religious beliefs on anyone, they were not demanding that anyone believe what they were saying, they were simply followinf the dictates of their hearts. People are free to either agree with them or not, but what is so scary about hearing a person pray?
        We are told by the left all the time that we must be tolerant, yet it seems to be perfectly acceptable by many people to be intolerant towards people who express their Chistianity.


      • Mark permalink
        May 13, 2010 10:27 pm

        Steve, I agree that there is nothing inherently offensive about someone praying. However I think the conversation would take a somewhat different slant if someone pulled out a prayer rug and faced Mecca and expected everyone to sit quietly and comply or acquiesce while dinner was getting cold. Or as I mentioned before, if they were to start reading horoscopes or tarot cards. To those of us with no religious beliefs we find it somewhat absurd. It would be no different if someone in the room declared that there was a ghost present at every meal and that everyone needed to be silent while they tried to communicate with it. To me, and millions of others, there is no difference between the Christian beliefs and believing that John Edwards actually communicates with the dead. People like me have no social obligation to feign respect for others religious beliefs any more than we have to respect psychics or witch doctors. And I understand that others have no social obligation to respect my lack of belief. I guess that what I feel is that public displays of piety serve no purpose other than being an attempt at proselytizing and that no government entity has the right to endorse any particular religious beliefs.


      • May 13, 2010 11:23 pm

        You may not believe this, but I hope you will give me the benefit of the doubt.
        If I were at a public gathering and a Muslim began praying, out of common decency if I were talking I would either quiet down so that he could pray or I would move away to continue my conversation, in order to let the person pray in peace. However, I do not believe that person should demand that I quiet down.
        As far as I can tell, nobody who was praying was demanding that everyone else be quiet and not eat until they were done. If this were the case than I would say that that person was invading the rights of the person to not worship. But I don’t think that was the case here.
        I do respect the beliefs of others and I do respect your lack of belief. I have never once stated what my beliefs on this blog, I write on this topic specifically as a constitutional issue and not as a personal issue.


  4. May 13, 2010 7:18 pm

    Thanks for the h/t, Steve. This is just another small example if the ridiculous nature of government.


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