While I don’t disagree with individual’s of faith being allowed the same rights to prayer and beliefs as so-called secularists, Sen. Bill Stanley’s proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution, SJ287, would do more than ensure an individual’s right to pray on public property, it would also complicate “existing constitutional protections to allow “sectarian prayers on behalf of government in otherwise impermissible locations.””
According to Stanley, his proposed amendment was prompted by anxieties that “people of faith are under attack by government.” This is the mantra of the Republican Party, “the government is attacking!,” regardless of the issue (unless its abortion, or secular school curricula, or fighting unnecessary wars internationally and domestically, or, or, or).
Stanley’s ‘concern’ brings up an important question: can secular and religious tolerance be granted equal weight in Virginia? That is, can Virginia live comfortably with both secular and religious rights to belief both accepted and tolerated?
Up to the present, it hasn’t appeared that both worldviews can live together peacefully (i.e., without a constant underlying tension). Each side in this debate has constantly feared the intrusion of the other into its sphere of influence, so to speak.
For my own part, I feel comfortable in the skin of a secular individual and uncomfortable around individuals who religiously practice…religion.
But their beliefs should be respected too, and unfortunately their beliefs were largely brushed aside after the religious dogmatism that gripped America for hundreds of years was finally thrown off in favor of a more secular belief system.
That said, it’s fairly clear that this group of Republicans in the General Assembly would like nothing more than to overturn secularism in all of its varieties in favor of their own religious belief systems. These individuals don’t know middle ground or compromise (like mature and sane adults do).
Thus, I’m skeptical of any Republican attempt to ‘level the playing field’. To them it means, “It’s my way or no way at all.”