First Baptist's Robert Jeffress Wants Supreme Court to Let Him Praise Jesus at City Hall

Categories: Politics, Religion

Thumbnail image for pastor-jeffress-professional.jpg
At the outset of the most recent meeting of the Dallas City Council, Councilman Sheffie Kadane stepped to the dais and delivered the following prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the gorgeous day You've given us today. Guide us year-round to serve the Lord, let us glorify You in all that we do. Let us bless You and praise You in all of our deals here today at the council, amendments and whatnot.

Lord, be with our mayor, guide him, lead him in doing a great job for a great city. Be with all our men in blue. Guide them, keep them all safe from harm and evil. Take care of us now, Lord. Teach us what You want us to know. Let us do Your will in all that we do.

In Christ's name, amen.

No one raised any objection to the invocation's decidedly Christian slant, not Councilman Lee Kleinman, an active member of Temple Emanu-El and the editor of a book on Gelfite Fish for Dummies, and not anyone in the audience, which at that early hour was somewhere between sparse and nonexistent.

See also: Joshua ISD Cut its Valedictorian's Mic Last Night, But Maybe Not for Talking About God

Perhaps it was because Kadane's request for wisdom and guidance was inoffensively anodyne; maybe it was that similar invocations are delivered before every council meeting, albeit usually by a visiting pastor rather than a sitting council member. (You can find the guidelines established by Mayor Mike Rawlings at the end of the post). The lack of objection, however, doesn't necessarily make Kadane's remarks constitutional.

That's what the Supreme Court is currently debating in Town of Greece v. Galloway, a case in which two women -- a Jew and an atheist -- sued a New York municipality claiming that its pre-meeting invocations, which, in the eight years before the legal challenge, were always delivered by Christians, amounted to an unconstitutional establishment of religion by the state.

The women lost in district court but won on appeal. According to SCOTUS Blog, the appeals court "emphasized that most of the prayers were 'uniquely Christian' -- referring, for example, to 'Jesus,' 'Your Son,' or 'the Holy Spirit.'"

The court also pointed to the clergy members' use of phrases like "let us pray," since they encouraged audience participation in the prayers and gave the impression that they were speaking on behalf of the town, all of which describes Kadane's remarks to a T.

It's hard to tell from yesterday's oral arguments before the Supreme Court how the justices will rule. Countless hypotheticals were floated and and stumbled over by the attorneys on either side (see Slate's coverage here), and there was no clear agreement on whether the 30-year-old decision in Marsh v. Chambers, which allowed state legislatures to open with prayers for the basic reason that they had already been opened with prayers, was good decision or whether it applies to municipalities.

First Baptist's Robert Jeffress is much clearer. In an op-ed published last week by Fox News, he recounts a time when he delivered a prayer at a Dallas City Council meeting, ending with a shoutout to "the one who came, and died, and rose again that we might have eternal life -- Jesus Christ our Lord."

He was challenged by a council member who, he writes, had a warped understanding of the Constitution.

"The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from establishing a state religion but has absolutely nothing to say about local governments allowing prayers at city council meetings, nativity scenes in the town square, or invocations at high school graduations," he writes. "Subsequent court decisions that have prohibited such free expressions of religious beliefs are based on a gross distortion of the First Amendment."

Luckily for the rest of us, Jeffress doesn't get to decide these things.

Update at 3:22 p.m.: Here are the invocation guidelines put forth by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings:


The invocations before the Dallas City Council's weekly meetings offer the opportunity to experience and share in the diverse range of faiths in the North Texas community, as well as a general appeal for divine guidance.

Our policy is to reach out and include representatives of many denominations, faiths and beliefs, and we welcome suggestions. Everyone invited to lead the invocation is provided with a copy of these principles.

We remind those invited to pray that the City Council and staff, the audience and the listening and viewing public are made up of people from many faiths and beliefs. We ask that for this setting, prayers offering guidance to the Council and public be constructed in a nonsectarian manner, prayers that touch many and do not offend.

We ask that the invocations be inclusive and not divisive, and that they do not utilize language that disparages or advances a specific denomination, faith, belief or creed.

Your participation and assistance in this is appreciated. Should you have any further comments, questions, or concerns please feel free to contact the mayor's office.


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
45 comments
McShyster
McShyster

Religion = Superstitious Nonsense for Ignorant Simpletons


lzippitydoo
lzippitydoo

Jefferies reminds many of activist Madyln Murray O'Hair. To think that this guy has fmany ollowers in this area is a great concern! Unfortunately it is the blind leading the blind and does nothing but damage the Dallas reputation!

ryan762
ryan762

"A Jew and an atheist sued a New York municipality" is the beginning of the worst joke in history.

MisterMean
MisterMean

First Baptist's Robert Jeffress is a poster child for revoking the tax exemption of all religious institutions.  He has violated tax laws by using his position to favor his politics.  Revoke the First Baptist churches tax status.

DeathBreath
DeathBreath

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.


Hey, Pastard, I have a suggestion.  Please, exercise your 1st amendment right on IH35E at rush hour.  

"Father Satan, I call to you from the deepst parts of my heart, I praise your name with every breath of my body, I worship you with every fibre of my being. You shown me what true strength is. you have shown me what true love is. Out of the darkness you came to show, me the true light. My master, my father and my friend what a great gift that is.Hail to the King!

O mighty Lord Satan,
God of this world,
God of my flesh,
God of my mind,
God of my innermost Will!

Every part of this world is within Your power.
You are within every part of this world.
Every part of me is within Your power.
You are within every part of me.

I am Yours, whether I serve You willingly or not,
for I am myself, whether I am true to myself or not.

Of my own free will, I now acknowledge Your power.
Of my own free will, I now present myself to You."

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

Why not "Good food, Good meat, Good God lets cheat" (some middle class folks)    - The prayer of all government entities.

ruddski
ruddski

If these people are allowed to establish a state religion by invoking prayer and such, would we all be required by l?aw tosign up with and attend a church? If do, would a Muslim prayer resullt in mandatory gay-hanging, goatfucking and woman stoning? If so, I'm not in favor.

fracquestions
fracquestions

Well, apparently praying for guidance and wisdom for the Dallas City Council has yielded no positive results. We still have a bunch of dumbasses leading the show, and Kadane is right there near the top.

John1073
John1073

I find these invocations before meetings rather silly as an atheist, but it is their right to do so. However, I have not once heard anyone other than some Christian delivering it "in Jesus name". Obviously they haven't done a great job of offering up any other religions to do the invocations.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

Essentially, Jeffress' argument is this: "So what if the Bill of Rights says the federal government can't establish a religion? That doesn't apply at the municipal level." Last I checked, all state and local laws/ordinances must abide by the Constitution and its protections. Might council-sanctioned, sectarian prayers before every meeting give the impression of establishment to the reasonable observer? 

Next time I go to a council meeting with a legitimate grievance and fail to bow my head in prayer, can I expect to have my grievance treated with as much concern as the ostentatiously pious citizen's? After all, I've clearly chosen to damn myself in the eyes of their "loving" creator.

if6were9
if6were9

"JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!!! Let's get to bidness!", Is what should be said at the beginning of any and all things that take place at City Hall. Just my two cents though. 

Just-Sharon
Just-Sharon

Dear Miss Thang,

In response to your inquiry above.  This is what I want you to know.  You are not worth the Toilet Paper you wipe your azz with.  You are a bigot, homophobe, and general idiot.  

So, what I want you to know is to keep your mouth shut until you are able to understand the separation of Church and State and until such time, please give up your Tax Exempt status and pay the Government the Taxes you owe for operating as something other than a religious outlet.

Lastly, please stop contacting me in public places as I am a bit embarrassed to have people thinking you and I are somehow BFF's. 

Love,

TBJ

James080
James080

So they pray before every council meeting?  None of it seems to take.


"Anodyne," Eric? I never thought I would ever need to consult a dictionary while reading Unfair Park posts. Nice.

halldecker
halldecker

Doesn't the bible say something about beware of those who insist on praying in public,  that the proper way to pray is in a closet?   (presumably not if you're already in there for orientation reasons ...)  


I'm always amazed,   those who claim to use their bible for a roadmap (old holy roller song),  live strictly by it,  ignore that very precise instruction.   Somebody needs to ask the Rev about that.

LeroyJenkem
LeroyJenkem

Am I a bad person for thinking that describing Jeffress's response as "butthurt" is just a little too appropriate?

JackJett
JackJett

I don't know who is doing her make up now but they need to adapt to the concept that less is more. 

Bobtex
Bobtex

How comical it is for that religious bigot to portray himself as a victim.  It is charlatans like him who give people of faith a bad name.  Let him spew his filth from his tax-exempt palace downtown; just keep him from preaching in taxpayer-paid forums.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I love Gospel music.  Yolanda Adams and Patti LaBelle always give deeply stirring performances.  You don't have to be Christian to be moved.  But, respect for non-Christians in public halls should be considered. 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

I think every council meeting should start out with a rousing rendition of "Jesus Take The Wheel".

markzero
markzero

@John1073 I can't imagine what Vonciel or Sheffie would do if a Wiccan or Muslim or Baha'i, etc., gave the invocation. Would they walk out and make clear the disregard they have for citizens who don't share their faith? Would they stay and complain? I would be completely surprised if they said and did nothing negative in response to others using the right they take for granted.

casiepierce
casiepierce

@CogitoErgoSum "... can I expect to have my grievance treated with as much concern..." Yes, yes you can, just as much as they care about anyone else, which is to say, not much.

fracquestions
fracquestions

@CogitoErgoSum Jeffress is a bigoted POS who ought to stick to preaching about how it is a wife's duty to be subservient to her husband and leave prayers out of government meetings. Prayer does not work anyway, so why waste the time?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum 

Congress shall make no law with respect to the establishment of religion.

Somehow, I don't get out of that what Jeffress gets.

Daniel
Daniel

@TeaBaggingJesus Church, state and government, I guess I can understand. Tax-exempt and taxes -- less so, but okay,  But why in the honey sweet balls of Jesus would you capitalize "toilet paper"? 

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

@halldecker i use my bible as a road...I enjoy running it over with the shitty car the good lord saw fit to give me the skills to acquire

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

@LeroyJenkem my brother who frequents the Eagle, claims that Jeffress is a "power versatile", so maybe, maybe not.

fracquestions
fracquestions

@TheCredibleHulk I think, considering that Dallas City Hall is located here in country and western lovin' Texas, that all City Council meetings should begin with singing Kinky's "Dropkick Me Jesus Through the Goalpost of Life."

John1073
John1073

I prefer "Jesus is a biscuit. Let him sop you up!"

ruddski
ruddski

uh-oh, here comes the Mad Imam, hide your goats.

fracquestions
fracquestions

@Daniel @TeaBaggingJesus If you do not think toilet paper is worthy of capital letters, then just wait until the next time you need some and there is none! I tried using pages from a Bible, but they don't work so well.

Just-Sharon
Just-Sharon

@Daniel @TeaBaggingJesus Because I CAN my sweet LIL ballz O'Jeebus, because I CAN. 

And thus I sayeth to you on this Day O'Daniel, may you too have the power and strength to use CAPs as thy see fit. 

And so it shall be.  And so it IZ. 

John1073
John1073

You left off the extra 6

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

@ruddski the only rocks your throwing are into your crack pipe, which I, as a Libertarian, fully support your right to do so.

ruddski
ruddski

So no rock throwing. Whew,

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@ruddski yes, I think you must be.  Cmon Rudd, Im not attacking ya, I actually like some of the stuff you write on here

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...