People Are Who They Are!

Bless This Mess

I read blogs on another site called Vibrant Nation. It is for "Women of Age" I guess you could say. Pretty good site, though I like Vox much better. I read this article this morning and it just makes me sick. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the most religious person in the world. I will also tell you that I don't discuss religion with anyone because it causes animosity. However, this article is more about infringements on our freedom and that bothers me tremendously.

Ga. Seniors Told They Can't Pray Before Meals

PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. — Preston Blackwelder proudly showed off a painting of his grandmother that had hung next to the front door of his Port Wentworth home.

She was the woman who led him to God, Blackwelder said Friday.

And with that firm religious footing, Blackwelder said it would be preposterous to stop praying before meals at Port Wentworth's Ed Young Senior Citizens Center near Savannah because of a federal guideline.

"She would say pray anyway," Blackwelder said of his grandmother. "She'd say don't listen."

But Senior Citizens Inc. officials said Friday the meals they are contracted by the city to provide to Ed Young visitors are mostly covered with federal money, which ushers in the burden of separating church and state.

On Thursday, the usual open prayer before meals at the center was traded in for a moment of silence.

The dilemma is being hashed out by the Port Wentworth city attorney, said Mayor Glenn "Pig" Jones.

Tim Rutherford, Senior Citizens Inc. vice president, said some of his staff recently visited the center and noticed people praying shortly before lunch was served. Rutherford said his company provides meals like baked chicken, steak tips and rice and salads at a cost of about $6 a plate. Seniors taking the meals pay 55 cents and federal money foots the rest of the bill, Rutherford said.

"We can't scoff at their rules," he said of federal authorities. "It's a part of the operational guidelines."

Rutherford said the moment of silence was introduced to protect that funding. He said although the change may have been misinterpreted, perhaps his company could have done a better job selling it.

"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."

 Mayor Jones said he was outraged by the change and has promised to find a solution.

 "It was one of the hardest things I ever did as mayor is to look those people in the eyes and ask them to be patient with me and honor their God in a moment of silence until I can have a resolution to this," Jones said. "For me to look at their eyes and tell them they can't thank God for their food, it's unheard of – I can't take it."

Jones said he flirted with the idea of ending a contract the city has with Senior Citizens Inc.

"Like one lady said, 'You can stop me from speaking, but you can't stop me from praying what's in my heart,"' he said. "But the best answer right now is that we're trying to get the best information possible and legal council is looking at what would happen if we continued to pray."

Blackwelder said the center's already fragile visitors have been rattled.

"This is, in my view, an unnecessary intrusion into the private lives of individuals. It's a bad place to draw a line in the sand."

These are the people who fought the battles to give us the freedom that we enjoy so much today. Now, they are too old to fight these battles for themselves. Is the whole country going to sit back complacently and allow this to go on? We talk about separation of church and state, yet the state is allowed to ban praying? I don't care if it is in a public building or if the government is providing the food in this building, there should be no laws that have anything to do with saying a prayer. I was appalled when they took prayer out of the schools and out of the public buildings. Now they are going to tell senior citizens that they can't bless their food because the government provided it? Are you kidding me?

My prayer in this public forum:

"Lord, please look down upon us today and find those who have the knowledge and the fight left in them to rise up and speak out for our freedom of religion before it is taken away completely. Give them the strength and the wisdom to fight this battle and come out victorious." Amen

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10 responses

  1. shy

    i agree with you whole-heartedly. i'm not the most religious person in the world, either. but i do believe in individual rights so long as it's not harming anyone else.
    and letting people pray for their food is by no means harmful for others around them. it should be a choice for us all.
    the state, actually, is acting very petty about this. there's so much more pressing problems to be dealt with – i'm amazed that they are making such a big deal out of those who just want to say a prayer before their meal.

    May 11, 2010 at 7:53 am

  2. That is unfortunate. If there were a vote I would side with the people who wanted to pray. However, there is some validity to this. As a Wiccan I am often shunned or I am expected to pray to God along with everyone else in certain settings, which I do out of respect.
    A few elderly members of my family are not religious and they would probably feel alienated if they were around a large group of housemates who prayed. As I said though, I would vote against banning prayer. I don't mind In God We Trust on bills and crosses in traditional places, but we are surrounded by one religion when the First Amendment is supposed to guarantee that we're not.
    I think this is a blacklash for the forcing of Intelligent Design in schools – I think it's inappropriate but I can understand the frustration.

    May 11, 2010 at 7:53 am

  3. Emmi, people who actually take the time to pray to God themselves, don't expect anyone else to pray with them. I understand and respect your decision not to pray. But to me, that's like going to the playground and expecting other children not to play because you don't want to and then having the teacher come and say, Ok, Emmi doesn't want to play so no one else is going to play today. I'm not being ugly or sarcastic to you at all I promise you, just driving home a point.Look, again, this is not about a prayer specifically. This is about the "freedom" to say that prayer. If 19 out of 20 want to pray then they should be able to pray. If the 20th person wants to stand up and do the "jig" instead of praying then so be it. That's what freedom is about. That's what this country was founded on. Freedom, not government control. You want freedom not to pray. Well you have that freedom. No one is telling you that you HAVE to join in and pray as well. If you feel uncomfortable then you also have the freedom to get up and leave. I agree that it is very frustrating. What really bothers me is that everyone seems to have gotten to a point that they say "Oh that's too frustrating, I just give up."

    May 11, 2010 at 8:15 am

  4. And let me add that in that last paragraph I am not referring to YOU specifically. I am generalizing.

    May 11, 2010 at 8:18 am

  5. Amazing! Why can't they pray. That is so sad. I think that people go way to far in governing what can and cannot be done! These poor people. It does make me sad as well, for them. They have so little left, and now, they are told they cannot pray. Awwww……breaks my heart for them.

    May 11, 2010 at 9:21 am

  6. Yup, and as I mentioned, if I could, I would vote for the freedom to pray. I guess the point I was making is this: there are 2 types of potential circumstances:
    1. A bunch of sweet elderly people (like my late aunt and grandma, who were Christians) who are nonjudgemental, friendly and who pray out of kindness and devotion – I think that would be pleasant
    2. A bunch of right-wing nutjobs, like my neighbors, who constantly bang on my door and try to convert me. In a nursing home setting, this would be a form of intimidation and persecution for say a Native American or agnostic, especially since an elderly person is stuck there.
    I am not referring to YOU specifically
    Ha, yes I understand, same here. Just a good debate, no hard feelings at all! šŸ˜‰

    May 11, 2010 at 9:52 am

  7. I think in situation 2. the State has an obigation to step in and say hey, this might be unconstitutional. But again, depends on the circumstances.

    May 11, 2010 at 9:56 am

  8. It's a good distinction to make. I can see both sides of the argument. I certainly wouldn't deny these poor folks their prayer in this circumstance. I suppose anyone can pray silently, anytime, if they choose…

    May 11, 2010 at 1:19 pm

  9. Hmmmm. Fascinating. I can understand both sides of the argument as well.

    May 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

  10. Great point Kimber. I like it.

    May 11, 2010 at 4:58 pm

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