This Is A Real Question That Has Really Been Asked, For Realsies

For the "I could not make this shit up even if I tried" files, a judge in Delaware has asked:

"Is the Lord's Prayer Christian?"

Just...go ahead and let that sink in for a minute.  Read the question again if you need to.  I'll wait.

We are talking here about the Lord's Prayer, one of the most recognizable of the standard-issue Christian prayers, shared in some form or other across nearly all denominations, one of the first prayers Christian children learn - both Ozz, raised Catholic, and I, raised Methodist, can rattle it off without thinking, even now, a decade out of our respective Christian upbringings.  And they are asking if it is specifically a Christian prayer, or if it could be considered "generic" and "not advancing a specific faith".

Are.  You.  Fucking.  Kidding me?

How is this even a question?

The context of it, if you don't want to click through, is a case on whether the legislative prayer used to open sessions of Sussex County Council meetings is Constitutional or not.  They apparently open their sessions with a recitation of the Lord's Prayer.  Legislative prayer has been certified by the Supreme Court as Constitutional so long as it does not advance any particular faith; Sussex County's lawyers are arguing that the Lord's Prayer is "generic", so therefore, it should be considered Constitutional.

More specifically, when questioned on whether the Lord's Prayer is specifically Christian, one of the attorneys for Sussex County replied that "[Jesus] was not offering a Christian prayer in the Christian tradition because no Christian tradition existed."




So you're talking about a very specific prayer, laid out by the founder of your religion, lifted word-for-word from passages in the holy book of your religion (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4)...but you want to claim it's "not a Christian prayer" because at the time that your founder uttered it the religion had not actually been formed yet?

I just can't even believe they're arguing this with a straight face in a court of law.  Nor can I believe that the judge has said it might be "a difficult case" because there is no mention of Jesus by name, as if that's the final arbiter of whether or not a prayer is Christian in nature.  If it's taken from your scriptures, used in your churches (and only in your churches, as I can't think of any other religious group that uses the Lord's Prayer, ever), I don't care if it explicitly names a deity or not, it's a Christian prayer.

But hey, if that's the logic we're using here, perhaps I should see if I can get my local City Council to start opening legislative sessions with the Charge of the Goddess.  It names, like, ten deities - that's more inclusive than the Lord's Prayer! - and obviously that means it's not advancing any one deity and therefore should be totally cool as a "generic" prayer that "doesn't advance any particular religion", amirite?


Loran Hills said...

How DO they keep a straight face???

Jadelyn said...

I can't say for sure, but I'm gonna go ahead and guess: money.  Lots and lots of money.  That they are getting paid for arguing this with a straight face.  There's really no other explanation that I can think of...

Jadelyn said...

First of all, no, I hadn't seen that linked post, that is fucking hilarious oh my god you win an internet for passing that on (and the blogger who wrote it I think deserves several internets; it's a good thing I haven't made my coffee yet this morning or else it'd be all over my keyboard).   Awesome.

Secondly, I think you're right, and I've sort of obliquely touched on that idea before but never so explicitly as this.  Especially for Christians who grew up that way, often very sheltered from even exposure to other faiths (as many denoms and individual Christians would see such exposure as "temptation" or whatever), they have a sort of spiritual blind spot.  Because for them, "religion" even in the general sense has a very specific meaning of "worshipping the Supreme Being in whatever sense you mean that", which as you point out, there are many religions that don't.  It's even more amazing in the context of your story about your stepfather, with so much more education in religion than most people.  Out of curiosity,were you ever able to wrangle an inclusive consensus out of that article?  

As to whether it's genuine ignorance or simply trying to take an unusual angle in *this* specific case, well.  I'm inclined to give individuals the benefit of the doubt, but not so much whole county councils and their attorneys.  :-/

Sonneillonv said...

Out of curiosity,were you ever able to wrangle an inclusive consensus out of that article?  

He got angry and frustrated and quit asking me to edit it.  I'm not sure if he gave up on it entirely or just stopped showing it to me.  :/  I sort of sympathize, because I know how irritating it is to write up a paper only to have somebody tell you your entire premise is completely unworkable, but at the same time, it's one of those things we've continually disagreed on - I don't think he can really see Christian Privilege where it exists.  He's not one of those "RAWR TEH PAGANS ARE TAKING OVER TEH COUNTRIES!  JUDEO-CHRISTIAN VALUEZ!" people, but, for example, the reason we're not speaking anymore is because I politely asked my mother to stop taking my son to church.

I pointed out that they would not want me to take a child of theirs to Circle, but it took several very gentle repetitions to get my mom to acknowledge there was a double-standard at work, and my stepfather still hasn't acknowledged it.  He just lambasted me for 'insulting' and 'hurting' my mother by asking her not to take him to religious services.  Because who could possibly object to a child going to church, right?  That's inconceivable in his mind.

Jadelyn said...

I'm sorry to hear that.  :-/  I think a lot of people see it that way, that *of course* churchgoing is, at the very least, a neutral activity, no matter the individual's or family's actual religion.  I've run across that attitude before, and it always baffles (and irks) me.

Jadelyn said...

*blinkblink* ....wow.  Nothing like some blatant "yes but we'll always discriminate against you, so you might as well get used to it young!" attitude.  o.O

Whirlwitch said...

Here's a link for you: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=422695&highlight=military+paganism

In this comment thread, discussing a Pagan place of worship at a US Air Force base, you'll see at least one person arguing over and over again that Paganism is not a religion, using some very specific criteria in order to do so (I believe some goalpost-shifting occurs as well).  Watch Warrenton and his critics beginning on page 6 if you want to see real denialist action, but it helps to get a sense of the previous discussion.

The whole website is,of course, established on the basis that Catholicism is the One True Religion, so this is not very surprising, but the mechanics are worth a look.

Whirlwitch said...

 For extra lulzies, check out the poster at the bottom of page 7 saying "I try not to use reason".  You just can't make this stuff up!

Jadelyn said...

Wow.  Well, that was an entertaining half-hour, lol.  I particularly liked the idea that paganism isn't a religion because we "lack charitable and educational institutions".  I'm sorry, I wasn't aware we had to have schools in order to be considered a religion... nor that a religion must inherently be interested in sticking its nose in its adherents' bedrooms.  o.O

Sonneillon said...

Well, here in the U.S.A. we culturally tend to see church-going as a universally admirable activity, a sign of moral fortitude and responsibility (we tacitly acknowledge that church is rather boring and getting up on Sunday is a pain, so anyone who does it regularly must be a dependable sort with their priorities squared).  It's really hard to push back against that cultural assumption because most people literally can't grock how going to church could be considered objectionable.  And truthfully, I have no issue with people going to church.  I only have an issue with them taking my very young, very impressionable child to church without my permission, because my issues with Christianity, let me show you them, they are grievous.  

Which is another thing I feel like most people can't grock.

Jadelyn said...

Agreed.  If someone chooses to get into Christianity as an adult, go for it, but when you're talking about a child who may not feel as if they have a choice when the adults around them are sort of herding them into it, that's really not okay.  


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