Saturday, October 13, 2018

A PLACE AT THE TABLE

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."  (John 7:24)

Just when you think you've "heard it all" regarding "political correctness" and "progressive intolerance", well, that's when you realize you haven't; and that's when you get the news that the scales have tipped so far to an extreme that the Founding Fathers must surely be "turning over in their graves"!  Such was the case with me on Thursday night when I turned into Dan Rea's "Nightside" radio program on Boston's WBZ 1030 A.M. radio.

Dan's guest during the 10 p.m. hour was the Rev. Dr. John Tamilio.  Tamilio's been a guest several times on "Nightside".  He's a man of amazing talents and accomplishments; a Professor at Salem State University, an attorney, and he serves as Pastor of the Congregational Church of Canton.  A very intelligent man, as well as a fine speaker, Tamilio is always an interesting guest on the show.  The topic on Thursday night floored me- so much so that I called in and spoke to Tamilio and Rea on the air.  It seems the Rev. Tamilio offered the invocation at the Canton High graduation this past spring.  He read the actual words of his prayer on Thursday night's program.  It was a very generic and inclusive prayer, not mentioning Jesus or Christian doctrine.  The prayer focused on asking a blessing on the graduates and that they would go on to serve others.  In closing, Tamilio asked the audience for a "joyous Amen".  I chuckled in that he even referenced the CHS mascot (the Bulldog) in a humorous way as part of the prayer.  I'm a 1972 Canton High graduate and I loved it!

Not everyone loved Tamilio's prayer, however.  Someone contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Wisconsin who sent a letter to the Canton Superintendent of Schools demanding that all invocations, benedictions, prayers, and religious rituals be banned from any part of any school ceremonies.  The Canton Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Jennifer Fischer-Mueller quickly "caved in" to this request and that was that.

Well, that was that, at least for now.

The Rev. Dr. Tamilio is a very likable and informative gentleman, but he's no marshmallow!  Tamilio intends to fight this.  Dan Rea's on his side, as am I.  An article in the October 11, 2018 Canton Citizen newspaper states that the Canton Public Schools are merely following the mandate of the United States Supreme Court regarding this matter.  Now, I admit, Dan Rea and John Tamilio are each attorneys but I'm no legal scholar.  However, even if the paper's reporting about the Supreme Court's mandate is accurate, and I'm not sure that it is, I'm frankly happy that we now have a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.  I say, "Let's fight this thing all the way to the Supreme Court!  Wouldn't it be great to get a ruling from the current Court in favor of allowing inclusive and positive invocations and benedictions at graduations and public school functions?"

I think the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Canton Public Schools have picked on the wrong guy in attacking the Rev. Tamilio's prayer!  This may well have national historic ramifications, for once in the right direction in more ways than one, and I couldn't be happier!

And as a P.S. I want to add that a community's churches and synagogues as well as their clergy, along with Islamic centers and Hindu temples, for that matter, are all a vital part of a community's life, and absolutely should have a place at the table!  Didn't a famous liberal Democrat remind us that it takes a village?  Well, we're part of the village, and we're not going away with our tails between our legs!

To the Rev. Dr. John Tamilio, I say, I'm with you, Sir, and Godspeed!

3 comments:

MaryA said...

Great post. Keep us up to date on what happens.

Unknown said...

"I want to add that a community's churches and synagogues as well as their clergy, along with Islamic centers and Hindu temples, for that matter, are all a vital part of a community's life." I completely agree with your statement up to this point. As for having a place at the table, we are a secular nation filled with people of all faiths, and no faiths. In this country, no religion has a place at the government table. That was by design. Schools are government institutions. I know, like, and respect John. And I understand how this resistance would be upsetting to any Christian who does not understand how this prayer may have infringed on the first amendment rights of others. We have a robust justice system in this country. And it is your right to try to fight this.

I don't really understand what sort of suit could be brought to the courts at this point (I'm not a lawyer either). No one has been barred from public pryer at a Canton school function yet. Is the school's intention to prohibit prayer at school events (so as to follow the precedents set by previous Supreme Court decisions) enough to bring them to court? If so, I assume that the suit will be against Canton or the Canton school district (as the Freedom From Religion [FFR] group did nothing more than send a letter advising the district that this prayer at a public school function was unconstitutional).

I know on John's Facebook page, and I believe on the radio segment as well, there was discussion about how FFR was bullying the school district (and other smallish towns) because the district wouldn't have the money to defend itself. Brining a suit against the district would create the same financial pain that sounded so inexcusable when it would have been brought on by FFR. It seems a bit hypocritical.

I suppose it's possible that a case could work its way up to the Supreme Court, and that the court would hear it. If it does, it would be a direct challenge to this decision from 1992:

Lee v. Weisman
This case challenged a middle school practice of inviting a clergyman to offer an opening invocation and a closing benediction at a graduation ceremony. With a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court said such practices violate the First Amendment.

I'm curious to see what happens with this.


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