Tag Archives: prayer

Health care reform passes House but it’s bittersweet

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The massive overhaul of our broken health care insurance system started late Saturday night when the US House of Representatives passed H R 3962 by a vote of 220 to 215. While this was a historic day, the victory was bittersweet as an unneeded amendment banning paying for abortion for anyone who buys insurance from the public option or the exchange was added at the last minute. Some believe that amendment will be removed when the House and Senate meet to combine their bills but one never knows.

The “Stupak of Michigan Amendment” showed up in the last few weeks of debate on the bill and, at least to me, was being seriously considered late Friday night when the frame work of debate was agreed on by the House leadership. The fear was the overall bill would fail unless Rep Stupak had his amendment voted on.

64 Democrats, including some women, like Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio 9th District), voted to restrict paying for abortion – effectively restricting a legal right women enjoy at this time.

What is ironic is the current bill includes allowing insurance to pay for “pray healing”.

So freaky religious people who believe praying can heal were more important than women’s rights.

And funny, in a WTF? way, 26 of those Democrats who voted to restrict paying for abortion voted NO on the final bill.

Here is the list of 26 Democrats who voted “Aye” on Stupak but “Nay” on the final bill:

Altmire, Barrow, Boccieri, Boren, Bright, Chandler, Childers, Davis (AL), Davis (TN), Gordon (TN), Griffith, Holden, Marshall, Matheson, McIntyre, Melancon, Peterson, Ross, Shuler, Skelton, Tanner, Taylor, Teague

64 Democrats on the Wrong Side of Stupak-Pitts

There is still work to be done as the reform debate moves to the Senate. Hopefully a final bill can be introduced and voted on before the end of the year.

Crap Happens

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On Monday, the big news story was the shooting at the Amish school in Pennsylvania.

I watched some of the coverage on the news channels before going to work. It is a very sad time for their community. I was a bit saddened to hear some of the news people saying factually wrong things about the Amish. One of the things was that the Amish reject any help from the government – that is not true. Here in Ohio the Amish do accept some government support especially when it comes to health care and their children. When they do accept it, the community, later, will have an auction or market day to pay back the state for the aid they received.

Of course, after every violent incident involving a school or children, the religious wing nuts make statements like the one I read in a forum posting on our local newspaper website:

Do you think there is a correlation with taking prayer out of schools and the escalation of school violence? Innocent voices raised in prayer each day kept God’s protection over the schools. Parents better pray for their children each day, I know I do!

Then there was this bit last night on the “Free Speech” segment of the CBS Evening News by Brian Rohrbough, father of one of the students killed in the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado:

ROHRBOUGH: I’m saddened and shaken by the shooting at an Amish school today and last week’s school murders [in Bailey, Colorado]. When my son Dan was murdered on the sidewalk at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, I hoped that would be the last school shooting. Since that day, I tried to answer the question, “Why did this happen?”

This country is in a moral freefall. For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak without moral consequences. And life has no inherent value. We teach there are no absolutes, no right or wrong, and I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including by abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of children. Suicide has become an acceptable action and has further emboldened these criminals. We’re seeing an epidemic increase in murder/suicide attacks on our children.

In response to Pennsylvania school shooting, CBS’ “Free Speech” featured Columbine father attacking evolution, abortion

That was just an uninformed comment. The Amish are about as religiously conservative as a religion goes, yet all their prayers didn’t “protect” them from the violence. It also doesn’t make one any saner. Mental illness doesn’t avoid the religious. In a press conference today, PA State Police reported the Amish school shooter wrote to his wife that he was angry with God.

Prayer is NOT a solution – it is what some do to cope with their lives.

People need to get some perspective. Mentally ill people, who perpetrate these killings, will do what they can to do harm. Unless we can gain some kind of psychic ability, we can NEVER prevent these incidents 100%.

The guy, who is said to have shot the Amish children, wasn’t on any law enforcement radar. The guy seemed to have just snapped (although I bet there were some signs his family and friends ignored).

My philosophy of life allows me to function without being crippled by the unknown. It basically boils down to “Crap Happens”. You deal with what you can control and try your best to slog through what you can’t control.

Prayer protest in Columbus on May 4th

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A friend of mine passed along the following note concerning the so-called National Day of Prayer. The info concerns a protest to held in Columbus on 5/4/2006. If you would like to participate feel free, if you want more info his contact info is at the end of the post.

On Thursday, May 4, 2006 – many Americans will be observing a National Day of Prayer. This is an annual event that is observed on the first Thursday of every May and has been endorsed by many goverenment officials from President Bush on down.

A National Day of Prayer rally is scheduled to be held (for the 16th year in a row) on the west (High St.) side of the Ohio Statehouse from 11:30am until 1pm.

I plan to be there with a sign and literature, protesting this terrible breach in the wall of separation between church and state.

I am doing this not as a member of any organization but as an American citizen who is fed up with the drift towards theocracy in this country.

I am also fed up with the way prayer, faith, and religion seem to be increasingly eclipsing reason and science.

If you share my concerns and would like to join me, please let me know. I plan on having some extra, professionally made signs available as well as flyers and hand-outs.

I’ve already cleared my plans with both Statehouse and Columbus officials and can share the rules and regulations that govern protests like this to anyone who might be interested.

My protest has to some extent been inspired by the National Day of Reason that the American Humanist Association and other groups have been promoting as an alternative to the National Day of Prayer. You can learn more about the thinking behind the Day of Reason by going here:


Why a National Day of Prayer is wrong

Americans United for Separation of Church and State thinks the National Day of Prayer is wrong

On another page

Official Day of Prayer web site

Day of Prayer rally at the Ohio Statehouse

Questions? Contact Dan Birtcher (614) 865-9146 hcco_djb@yahoo.com

When did religion become a test for elected office?

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Most people should know that the US Constitution contains a clause that prohibits religious test as a qualification to hold elective office. In case you don’t know it is Article 6

“but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

So there is a prohibition against laws from the Federal to local level that would create a test on the religious beliefs of elected officials and those who want to be elected.

Why then is there a trend of city and town councils falling over themselves to proclaim they not only believe in god but that their power to govern is ordained by that deity.

Here are two cases to illustrate what I am talking about:

In my boyhood hometown of Findlay, Ohio, the city council decided to give the council president the sole authority to invite members of the community to lead the council in prayer at the start of their meetings.

In March 2002, Council President Robert Schuck first proposed the idea but there was enough council members who were opposed so the idea was dropped. Former council members John Sausser and Marcia Barkey said religion is a private, not public, matter. Former council member Robert Nichols was concerned about fairness. All three ended their terms on council on Dec. 31.

In an article in the January 21, 2004 Findlay (OH) Courier, Schuck said, “The majority of council is now supportive of the idea”. He also noted religious leaders and community members from diverse denominations will be invited and at times council will just observe a moment of silence.

What is his qualifications to decide which religious beliefs would be allowed to lead the prayer? Is that in the job description of council president?

The government can’t and shouldn’t get involved in your religious beliefs and for the life of me I can’t imagine why educated elected officials of our government would want their religion involved with their governing.

Prayer opens council meeting
Published on January 21, 2004


This dangerous trend toward religious tests for elective officials has led some towns and villages to pass resolutions declaring they believe in “God” or that our history of governing comes from the religious history of the nation.

While resolutions are not laws, which would be unconstitutional, they are none the less disturbing in light of the real history of keeping religion and government separate.

One such city that passed a resolution, Kinston, North Carolina, shows how dangerous this trend is and why it is a threat to our religious freedom.

An article in January 21, 2004 Kinston Free Press talked about the debate in city council on January 26 about a resolution that recognized God as the foundation of this country’s heritage.

Unlike the situation in Findlay, the action in Kinston actually included some debate on the issue from council members. Some argued that the resolution was not the proper use of the council’s time and effort while others adamantly claimed the council had to recognize “God”.

Council member Jimmy Cousins said, “If you are a true Christian, then it is your duty to witness. If you believe in the Bible … then that is absolute.”

“But we represent a diverse community,” Mayor Pro Tem Joe Tyson said.

“Not in my religious life, I don’t,” Cousins said.

“This isn’t a religious function. This is the City Council,” Tyson said.

“I don’t think anybody should be embarrassed to recognize God,” said Council member Alice Tingle, who asked her colleagues to consider the resolution. “It’s our job to proclaim God. He’s visible everywhere, in nature. Not doing so � that’s why we’ve gone astray in this country.”

The most disturbing part of the debate was when a letter to the editor was read at the meeting.

The letter was written by Kinston businessman Ted Sampley, who had brought the resolution to the council, which is modeled after one originally passed in Greene County, Tenn.

He wrote:

“It is the atheists, agnostics and anti-religious dissenters who should stand down and stop tying to censor and rewrite American history.”

The debate was for naught because the resolution was unanimously approved.

Kinston City Council approves God resolution
January 21,2004
Jason Spencer


I just don’t know why educated people fall over themselves to do these things. It seems that they feel that they need acknowledgment of their beliefs every moment of every day or else they think they might go to hell.

These religious people believe that government has to acknowledge their beliefs as if the 1st Amendment isn’t enough of a protection. They mislead others into thinking that since our founders were believers that our country was created in “God’s” image. Some may think that asking for “God’s” blessings help them govern better.

Reading the details of the founding of this country shows that our founders were concerned about mixing religion and government. So much so they specifically left out references to “God” in the Constitution and wrote article 6 to prohibit religious tests.

In difference to Mr. Sampley, in Kinston, history isn’t being rewritten.

In those cases where separation of church and state is upheld, it is leading us back to the spirit of what the founder’s had in mind.

Back when the USSR existed, they had a constitution that guaranteed freedoms that in practice simply didn’t exist there. Using the religionist argument that we non-believers are rewriting history is like saying the former Soviet Union was just as democratic as the USA.

It is how we protect our freedoms than how they are written. If laws and resolutions go against the letter and spirit of those freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights then they ought not to stand and our country will be better for it. If we don’t care about putting those words into actual practice then they aren’t worth the ink used to print them.

Prayer opens council meeting?

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Read this interesting story in the Findlay (Ohio) Courier on Wednesday 1/21/2004:

Prayer opens council meeting

Findlay City Council, operating under new rules of order, opened its council meeting on Tuesday with an invocation led by the Rev. Ben Borsay of Gateway Church.

Council agreed earlier this month, when it adopted its new procedures for the year, to give the council president authority to invite members of the clergy and community to open its sessions with prayer.

Council members had debated the issue of adding formal prayer to council meetings in 2002, but there was enough opposition among members then that the issue was dropped.

At the time, council members Robert Nichols, Marcia Barkey and John Sausser all expressed concerns about opening council meetings with prayer. Sausser and Barkey said religion is a private, not public, matter. Nichols was concerned about fairness. All three ended their terms on council on Dec. 31.

Click here to read full story

I found the story interesting because the council, which spends time debating the importance of replacing the Bolton St. bridge after it had been closed for several years, which debated the need of the Hancock Rec Center in a city that doesn’t have enough community space as it is, and which finds a serious issue in the strength of recently installed street lights, would not only vote to allow the council president the authority to hold a prayer before the meetings but also not entertain any public input on the issue. Spending tax dollars for it as well.

I understand that religion is important to most of the community and seems to be very important to council president Schuck that he would be so adamant in getting the sole authority to decide who gives the prayer, BUT Findlay City Council has no business mixing religion and government.

As former council members Marcia Barkey and John Sausser said in 2002 as quoted in the story, religion is a personal private matter. The government can’t and shouldn’t get involved in your religious beliefs and for the life of me I can’t imagine why educated elected officials of our government would want their religion involved with their governing.

It’s like if the majority of council voted to sing the University of Michigan fight song before council meetings. Most people would agree that it wouldn’t be a proper use of council’s time and would insult those members of the community who don’t support the school up north. And I’m sure there would heated public debates about it.

I find it highly insulting to the Founders of this great country, who knew enough to keep church and state separate, that council president Schuck thinks that only prayers from different denominations or a moment of silence would be permitted. What is his qualifications to decide which religious beliefs would be allowed to lead the prayer? Is that in the job description of council president?

If Mr. Schuck is adamant about having a prayer before council meetings then he and his majority are free to meet around the flag pole in Dorney Plaza and pray. They can all then move to council chambers, call the meeting to order, and do the job they were elected to do.

Originally posted on the blog “Hancock County Politics Unfiltered”