The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 12, 2014

Not the spirit of good government

The Daily Item

— We often hear that the U.S. is a “Christian nation” or was founded on “Christian principles,” a premise that has seen an upsurge in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing sectarian prayers before government meetings. But there is a difference between culture and government.

Our nation was founded by deists, Unitarians, apathetic Anglicans, and people of various other Christian denominations, but those founders were very careful to leave religious specifics out of the documents that constitute our nation and provide our legal foundations.  

As an elected member of Selinsgrove borough council, I appreciate that my community has adopted a tradition of a moment of silent reflection, instead of a prayer, before the business of each meeting begins.

While not unconstitutional, displays of religious specificity on taxpayer-funded property and during taxpayer-funded government activities, may marginalize our fellow citizens who adhere to a different religious tradition, or none. And they send the message that the participating elected officials may privilege citizens of one religious tradition over those of another, or those of no religious faith. This is not in the spirit of good government.  

A moment of silent reflection is a courteous, inclusive, and constitutionally acceptable way to respect the traditions of all citizens interacting with their government, including citizens who do not share the beliefs of those in power.  

Erik Viker,