Hawaii ends state prayer

The Hawaii state Senate has decided to do away with the prayer it used to open each session.

A citizen’s complaint had prompted the American Civil Liberties Union last summer to send the Senate a letter noting that its invocations often referenced Jesus Christ, contravening the separation of church and state.

That prompted the state attorney general’s office to advise the Senate that their handling of prayers – by inviting speakers from various religions to preach before every session – wouldn’t survive a likely court challenge, said Democratic Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria.

“Above all, our responsibility is to adhere to the Constitution,” Galuteria said after Thursday’s vote to halt the daily blessings.

This is a pretty straight forward decision, one that reflects the fact that Christians don’t get to do whatever they want. But that doesn’t mean everyone has to understand it.

“They (the ACLU) continue to threaten governments with lawsuits to try to force them into capitulating to their view of society,” said Brett Harvey, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, made up of Christian lawyers to defend free faith speech. “Governments should take a stand for this cherished historical practice.”

Thank you for confirming that the prayers were all about Christians, but really? It’s an organization dedicated to defending free faith speech? Do they realize that there is no such thing? That if such a thing were to exist, that it would be a privilege, not a right? There is simply the right to free speech.

Besides, it isn’t free speech if it’s being endorsed by the government.

You Christians don’t get to do whatever you want

Is it really that hard to understand? Is it really that hard to understand that one group does not get to impose its religious beliefs on everyone else? Church and state are separate; freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. I suspect if anti-theist atheists or Muslims or Scientologists started reciting their beliefs through a government entity, you Christians would start to actually understand all this.

The Hawaii state Senate, as Christian-dominated as anywhere in the U.S., is, however, with you in their intentional ignorance.

When Senate President Colleen Hanabusa introduced a reverend to say the invocation, Mitch Kahle stood from his seat in the gallery of the Senate chambers and said, “I object. My name is Mitch Kahle and I object to this prayer on the grounds that it’s a violation of the first amendment of the constitution of the United States. I object.”

Kahle’s protest lasted about seven seconds. Then he stopped talking and sat down. The Senate’s Sergeant at Arms was determined to remove Kahle. When Kahle resisted he was forcefully removed and roughed up. The incident was caught by several video cameras including a camera belonging to Hawaii News Now.

“Then what they did to add insult to injury was, they arrested him for disorderly conduct,” said William Harrison, Kahle’s attorney.

Fortunately, the courts are more and more frequently getting it.

District Court judge Leslie Hayashi needed less than an hour to find Kahle not guilty.

“Number one, there was no disorderly conduct. Number two, he has a first amendment right to speak in a public forum such as he did. And number three, the legislature was violating our U.S. Constitution as well as the Hawaii constitution by having these invocations,” [Kahle’s lawyer] Harrison said.

Fortunately, Kahle and his photographer, Kevin Hughes, are suing.

via Pharyngula