The editorial board at STLToday offers this cogent point of view on County Commissioner Griesheimer’s violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The cartoon pretty much nails it …
The Franklin County Commission has decided to allow volunteers to sign up to lead the prayers before meetings. That might work, but not if those volunteers are all of one faith and make religious preferences clear in their words. The ACLU is right to keep watching the unfolding conflict.
We have no doubt that some of the people urging Mr. Griesheimer to stand fast will be offended if he chooses to protect those minority voices represented by the ACLU’s lawsuit. But that is precisely what he should do. The cause of religious freedom demands it.
Griesheimer seems to be banking on the idea that most people on those sign up sheets will be offering Christian prayers. He may regret that. Either way, he could have saved county taxpayers a lot of money and himself a lot of time had he simply agreed to use the generic and nonsecular word “God” in his invocations instead of the secular “Jesus.” There is already some court precedent for its use before government meetings. Even that goes too far in my view but it’s a reasonable enough compromise.
I have a hunch that County Counselor Mark Vincent knows this perfectly well and is just playing along for political reasons. For the county commission to prevail in its efforts to overturn two centuries of jurisprudence would be quite remarkable.