Of gods and governments: Brunch ordinance latest conflict between church, state

The inherent paradox in American government is that a nation founded upon Christian values by Christians provides for the separation of church and state in its governing charter.

While that is de jure status quo, it is far from de facto; customs, holidays and laws with a basis in Christianity remain at the core of the American tradition, often with implicit if not explicit government support.

Striking a balance between praying and politics

Prayer as part of government meetings has a long — and often contentious — history in this country, and a recent court ruling on the issue certainly won’t settle this debate.

This case does, however, add one more brick to the legal foundation that’s been built by respected judges since this country’s inception: prayer by those in official capacities is fine, but can’t trumpet your specific sectarian religious beliefs at the expense of those who may have a different faith.

Elected officials in Swain proud to pray

Praying in public has never been something politicians in Swain County have shied away from and it’s unlikely the recent court ruling will change that ritual anytime soon.

Public prayer not part of Jackson and Sylva commission meetings

Within recent memory, public prayer hasn’t been part of official meetings of the Jackson County or Sylva boards of commissioners.

Macon governments avoid praying at meetings

With all the controversy and uncertainty about the right and wrong way to do it, the town and county governments in Macon County err on the side of caution when it comes to praying at meetings.

In whose name? Haywood commissioners asking for trouble in prayer case

Just days after an important ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on legislator-led prayer, Haywood County and its municipalities quickly moved to comply with the specifics of the ruling, but fell dramatically short in complying with the general principles that underlie the separation between church and state in American Government.

The letter and the spirit: Local governments wrestle with prayer

Public prayer in government has long been a contentious issue, but a recent court ruling has North Carolina municipalities scrambling to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law while awaiting the challenges and changes that will inevitably come.

“I think towns that have practices similar to Rowan County will have to keep an eye on how the case progresses,” said William Morgan, Canton’s town attorney for the past three years.

A friendship forged in faith helped change the world

On Nov. 5, 2001, not quite two months after the 9/11 attacks, Lech Walesa spoke at Western Carolina University. Walesa was famed for his resistance to communism in Poland and the Soviet Union, and was the founder of Solidarity, a trade union seeking an expansion of its negotiating power and the establishment of fundamental human rights within Polish communism. Along with Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, and Mikhail Gorbachev, Walesa was a key player in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the fall of the Soviet Union.

Let’s keep a little separation between God and politics

He’s a respected member of the community, a physician, and we ran into each other unexpectedly. 

“I really have to say I like your opinion pieces. I think we’re on different sides as far as politics, but I like what you say about civil discourse and talking to each other. Besides, for me, politics is way down here,” he said, holding his hand down close to his knee, palm downward. “There are so many other more important things in life.”

Sociologist got it wrong; religion is on the uptick

bookIn 1968, Peter Berger, a Boston University sociologist, told the New York Times that by “the 21st century, religious believers are likely to be found only in small sects, huddled together to resist a worldwide secular culture …. The predicament of the believer is increasingly like that of a Tibetan astrologer on a prolonged visit to an American university.”

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.