Christians who insist that the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause gives them the right to use our government as a means to grant favor, support and sponsorship tor their religion are the first to stifle non-Christians from doing exactly the same.
Consider the two faces of the Free Exercise Clause in Phoenix Arizona. Members of the Phoenix City Council, claiming the right to free exercise of religion, have been routinely opening government meetings with Christian prayers for many years. The current rules allow for anyone who wants to deliver a prayer to simply make a request.
Enter the Satanist Temple of Phoenix claiming the same right to deliver an invocation at the next meeting and threatening a lawsuit: “if its member’s liberties are trampled.”
You guessed it. Now the Christian lawmakers are scrambling to change the rules. The Christians are going to make it impossible for the Satanists to do what the Christians have been doing in the name of free exercise of religion for years. The new rules will only allow people invited by the elected officials to deliver the prayers at government meetings. And, of course, only Christians will be invited.
“We weren’t comfortable lending either our reputations — or the constituency that voted for us, we didn’t want them to think that we were [allowing] a Satanic prayer at a City Council meeting,” Councilman Jim Waring declared.
When it finally dawned on the Christians that they probably couldn’t get away with their new rules in court, they voted instead to end their longstanding tradition of Christian prayers before meetings, replacing them with a moment of silence. Thus, the Free Exercise Clause collided head on with the Establishment Clause in Phoenix, and both the Christians and the Satanists are going to have to go pound sand.
The decision led to outrage from some people in the room. One pastor began to cry as she tried to push for more Christian prayers. “I am not for the silent prayer,” said Pastor Darlene Vazquez. “I want those who believe in one true God to pray. It breaks my heart to hear what is going on.”
Some Christians will just never learn the reason why the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause can’t have two faces in Phoenix.