The religious separatists who populated the Mayflower in its journey across the Atlantic did so as much for the ability to worship freely as to escape the oppression of a government-sponsored church. That duality is echoed in those who hold up the Constitution’s First Amendment as protecting the freedom of religion as much as it prohibits the government from requiring fealty to a particular faith.
The role of religion in public life is very much a moving target, one that changes to reflect the evolution of this country from one of strident Judeo-Christian values to a more pluralistic society. It is therefore incumbent upon communities like this — and those elected to serve in public office — to make tolerance of all faiths and belief systems their watchword, ensuring that this is a place of inclusion and respect.
The Greenville City Council routinely opens its meetings with a prayer led by one of its members. That practice was challenged last week by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based non-profit that objected to the prayer at the council’s Jan. 22 meeting that included specific reference to Jesus Christ. The council discussed the issue at its Monday meeting, but has not yet replied to the group.
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