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OUR MOTHER, who art in heaven (if indeed there is a heaven and if there is a god that takes a woman's form) hallowed be thy name, we ask for thy blessing for and guidance of those that will participate in this meeting and for those mortals that govern the state of Utah;

   We fervently ask that you guide the leaders of this city, Salt Lake County and the state of Utah so that they may see the wisdom of separating church and state and so that they will never again perform demeaning religious ceremonies as part of official government functions;

   We pray that you prevent self-righteous politicians from mis-using the name of God in conducting government meetings; and, that you lead them away from the hypocritical and blasphemous deception of the public, attempting to make the people believe that bureaucrats' decisions and actions have thy stamp of approval if prayers are offered at the beginning of government meetings;

   We ask that you grant Utah's leaders and politicians enough courage and discernment to understand that religion is a private matter between every individual and his or her deity; we beseech thee to educate government leaders that religious beliefs should not be broadcast and revealed for the purpose of impressing others; we pray that you strike down those that mis-use your name and those that cheapen the institution of prayer by using it for their own selfish political gains;

   We ask that the people of the state of Utah will some day learn the wisdom of the separation of church and state; we ask that you will teach the people of Utah that government should not participate in religion; we pray that you smite those government officials that would attempt to censor or control prayers made by anyone to you or to any other of our gods;

We ask that you deliver us from the evil of forced religious worship now sought to be imposed upon the people of the state of Utah by the actions of misguided, weak and stupid politicians, who abuse power in their own self-righteousness.

   All of this we ask in thy name and in the name of thy son (if in fact you had a son that visited Earth) for the eternal betterment of all of us who populate the great state of Utah.    - Amen.


   LINK: Logan politician doesn't have a prayer

Utah Atheists  recruiting medley of prayer-givers

From: "Chris Allen" <***>
Subject: Re: Logan welcomes Buddhists, Muslims, atheists,
agnostics and other creeds to pray

Perhaps Utah Atheists could help out in recruiting and encouraging some unconventional prayer givers. Some possible options:

Local Native American Medicine Men
Wickens (Is the Golden Braid still open?)
Gays and Lesbians
Gay Mormons (Research through alternative press)
Lighthouse Mission (Tanners)
Helen Radkey (re Mormon baptism of Jewish holocaust victims)
Other Mormon dissidents


Times of India
15 Feb 2008      New York                     You Tube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8vENZwp1rk

The senate of Utah, a US state dominated by Mormons, was opened for the first time with a Hindu prayer involving the chanting of Sanskrit mantras.

Rajan Zed, a prominent Hindu chaplain who has earlier read prayers in the US senate and state senates, read the opening prayer Wednesday from ancient scriptures before the Utah senate in Salt Lake City. After first delivering the prayer in Sanskrit, he read its English translation.

Utah is the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as Mormonism, founded in 1830.

Mormons, known to be orthodox and conservative, account for over 60 per cent of the state's population of about 2.5 million.

Zed sprinkled holy water from the Ganges on the podium before starting the p rayer. He recited from the Rig-Veda, besides lines from  Upanishads and the Gita. He started and ended the prayer with "Om", the Hindu mystical syllable.

Zed presented a copy of the Bhagavad Gita to senate president John L. Valentine who thanked him for the historic prayer.

Senate majority leader Curtis S. Bramble said that the theme of the prayer was peace and he put forth a resolution to include the prayer in the Senate Journal, which was unanimously passed.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/rssarticleshow/msid-2786115,prtpage-1.cms

LINK:   Indian "Wtchcraft" family of 5beheaded, REALLY

They want Satanists, Druids, psychics to pray at County Council
   B y   E l a i n e   J a r v i k   Deseret News staff writer

      How about Druids, Chris Allen suggests. Or maybe the Ku Klux Klan, or the Satanists? These are some of the folks Allen is recruiting to offer prayers at Salt Lake County Council meetings.

     The County Council last month voted to begin every meeting with a moment of prayer, and that has Allen and fellow members of Utah Atheists coming up with a litany of possible supplicants.

     "We want to recruit people from the New Age group, people with tarot cards, psychics, crystal healers. We need to get Native Americans who are involved in the peyote cult," Allen told members of Utah Atheists at their monthly meeting. "I feel pretty confident the Pagan Student Association at the U. would get involved."

     Faced with so many unconventional prayers and prayer givers, Utah Atheists hope, the County Council will soon realize that it's just too uncomfortable to begin its meetings appealing to a higher power.
     Meanwhile, Salt Lake attorney Brian Barnard is also "working on filing some litigation," he told the Utah Atheists. Barnard was the group's featured speaker at its February meeting.
 "You can't attack it head on, because the U.S. Supreme Court and the State Supreme Court say you can have prayers before public meetings," Barnard told the group. "The way to attack it is to show the County Council the folly of their ways: 'You want diversity, we'll give you diversity!' "

     The new County Council voted 6-3 on the prayer motion and delegated to one of its administrative assistants the job of making sure the prayers represent a cross-section of beliefs. One of council members voting against the public prayer motion was Joe Hatch. Hatch said "they should call it the Brian Barnard Full Employment" motion, Barnard drolly noted. Barnard has represented other litigants in separation- of-church- and-state battles, including Utah Atheists member Tom Snyder, who in 1994 was barred from offering a prayer at the opening of a Murray City Council meeting.

       "Our mother, who art in heaven (if indeed there is a heaven and if there is a god that takes a woman's form), hallowed be thy name," Snyder's prayer began. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled in 1998 that Murray City had the right to exclude his prayer, and a year later the U.S.

Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal. His federal lawsuit thrown out, Snyder filed a separate lawsuit in Utah's 3rd District Court, where he is seeking "nominal" damages"

     Snyder tried to offer the same prayer before a Salt Lake City Council meeting in 1994, eventually causing the city to discontinue opening prayers altogether.

     Allowing only certain kinds of prayers blurs the line between government and religion — a line that is necessary so that anyone has the
right to free expression of a religion, or the free expression of no religion, Barnard explained.

     Ironically, he added, when the Salt Lake City Council did allow prayers it issued guidelines that forced the prayers to be "generic and bland."
(Those guidelines required that the prayers be non-denominational, should not offend anyone and should be non-proselytizing.) This too blurred the line between church and state, he said.

     Not everyone at the group's monthly meeting agreed with the decision to recruit prayer givers from obviously fringe groups such as polygamists, Goths and skinheads. "If we present something clearly absurd, then it will be easy to dismiss," noted one member. Maybe, he said, the group should issue "an atheist statement."

Allen and others disagreed. "We took the direct approach before" and lost, Allen said.
E-MAIL: jarvik@desnews.com

Reprinted with permission. Original article from Feb 6, 2001 is at http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,250009169,00.html


 * Erratum:  The original article reported "$3 million in punitive damages." This should have read "minimal damagers." -- corrected by  Elaine Jarvik 2-7-1.

Julian Hatch Director utahatheists@yahoo.com
4700 South 900 East Suite 30-132
Salt Lake City, Utah 84117

Carol B. Lear
Utah State Office of Education
250 East 500 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4200

Ms. Lear:

   Thank you for your reply of December 9, 2004. Thanks also for encouraging the development/review of policies and practices concerning opening remarks/prayers at public meetings. The "USOE analysis" that was attached provides a good start.

   While we are confident the Utah Supreme Court would approve of these efforts, we see some problems and offer some criticism. We do not agree that the analysis or the current practice of the Utah State Board of Education are consistent with Society of Separationists v. Whitehead. Much of the deference you give to neutrality, non-discrimination, equal access, and diversity is merely cosmetic.

   First we must correct a common mis-representation. Separation of state and church is a restriction on government, not on the public. To protect the freedom of conscience of citizens, government officials are constrained from using their official power to promote their personal religious agendas. Their oath of office to enforce the Constitution officially constrains them. We are a government "of the people", but when citizens are part of the government, they are bound by that obligation.

   The supposed "hostility toward religion" referenced in your letter concerned a presumed restriction on the public at government meetings. (SOS v. Whitehead, 870 P.2d 934) The entire decision permitting prayer at government meetings turned on the facts of that one situation.

   The limited forum in effect at meetings of the Utah State Board of Education does not conform to those facts. Only government officials and employees are currently allowed to give the "reverence", and only the Board members choose to have one. We can find nothing in SOS v. Whitehead supporting a limited forum.

   On the contrary we find many references specifying a completely open forum:

* Concerning the practice of the Salt Lake City Council, "First, the invitations [to those offering prayers] should be extended to a variety of community members, including not only ministers and religious officials, but representatives of civic organizations as well." (SOS v. Whitehead, 870 P.2d 918)

* Concerning the Utah constitutional convention of 1895 as a precedent, "The convention's delegates manifested a parallel intention to put behind them the struggles of the preceding half-century and to bring all Utahns together. Opening prayer was held daily during the convention, but it was offered by ministers of various denominations displaying far more diversity than chance or the heavily Mormon membership of the convention would lead one to expect". (ibid 936)

* Concerning an indirect benefit to religion, "The middle ground we seek rests on the concept of governmental neutrality we find underlying our constitution's religion and conscience clauses, which in this instance means neutrality in the use of public money or property. When the state is neutral, any benefit flowing to religious worship, exercise or instruction can be fairly characterized as indirect because the benefit flows to all those who are beneficiaries of the use of government money or property, which may include, but is not limited to, those engaged to religious worship, exercise or instruction."  (ibid 937)

* Concerning the Court's two prong test, which you refer to, the first prong is non-discrimination. "If a city permits groups to use city-owned facilities, that use must be permitted without regard to the belief system of the user. Lutherans or Latter-day Saints who wish to use the facilities must have access on exactly the same terms as the Loyal Order of Moose, the American Atheist Society, or the Libertarian Party. The same would be true for services." (ibid 938)

* The second prong is equal access. "... the terms of access must be such that all users have a realistically equal opportunity for the use of the public resource. For if government allows all groups to apply for the benefit but then discriminates in the selection process, it would be preferring one group over the other in violation of the constitutional principle of neutrality."

   It is not enough to claim that atheists could be elected to the Board. Avowed [sic] atheists do not have a "realistically equal opportunity" to participate when the great majority is religious.

   We are not suggesting that "welcoming thoughts" be opened to the public, since that leaves the door open to uncontrollable confrontation. (Snyder v. Murray, 2003 UT) The "standards" you recommend in your attachment stating "remarks must be civil and not defamatory" would probably not be legally acceptable.

   We merely suggest that the welcome be restricted to appropriate secular greetings consistent with conducting the business of the Board. Since the Board already has one public forum in its "public participation/comments" segment, it would look suspiciously contrived for the Board to open a second one-person forum just to accommodate an opening prayer.

   Our second concern is a serious lack of neutrality with respect to religion in government. You give lip service to non-discrimination, equal access, and diversity, but the current practice and performance of the State Board of Education, which you claim is "consistent" with the Utah Supreme Court in SOS v. Whitehead, strongly trumpets the opposite.

   In the SOS case, SOS charged that article I section 4 of the constitution was violated where it states, "there shall be no union of Church and State, nor shall any church dominate the State or interfere with its functions." (SOS v. Whitehead, 870 P.2d 939) While the Court found insufficient evidence in that case, there is abundant evidence of such violations in the Utah public schools today.

   School leadership seems determined to demonstrate that they are religious people who cannot function without Christian (Mormon?) ritual. The clear implication is that they will be prejudiced by such values in running the schools, and will discriminate against non-religion.

   The Mormon's have no need of private Mormon schools when they control the public schools. There is no embarrassment at the convenient close proximity of Mormon seminaries to Utah public high schools when those schools are sited. When a seminary burned in the Salt Lake valley, the public schools welcomed the seminary classes into their buildings. The Office of Education, the Legislature, and the LDS Church cooperate to support an ongoing program to train teachers how to teach uncritically "about" religion in the classroom. The only public entrance to your building even sports a large "God Bless America" sign on the back of the security guard's computer monitor.

   The Utah Supreme Court incorporated fifteen pages of Mormon history into SOS v. Whitehead, and then based its decision on the "hostility to religion" concept outlined in the LDS First Presidency's 1979 statement on "America's Religious Heritage". Salt Lake City got along for decades without opening prayers in their meetings, but after that statement was released endorsing opening prayers, suddenly the prayers were necessary. The Utah Chamber of Commerce might as well state for all the world to see that Utah schools are dominated by religious leaders who will subtly but steadily pressure students to become Mormons and go on missions for the LDS Church.

   One would think school leaders might be concerned about this, but no. In addition to all the foregoing, you seem determined to find a way to rationalize or legalize the continued practice of opening prayers.

Your letter refers to "welcoming remarks" and "opening remarks", but they were never identified as such until we showed up. We have examined the openings in the meetings archived on the internet usoe.k12.ut.us/ADMIN/projects/live.htm. Every one is a sectarian prayer to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ. Every one is identified in religious terms as a "reverence" (worship, sanctification) or "invocation". There are no exceptions. The Board has routinely preferred religion over non-religion. This is not a forum that has been equally accessible to all - it is simply an instrument for demonstrating religious prejudice.

   This custom is so well established that it constitutes a religious test for public office. Every board member must be prepared to participate in ritual worship at meetings or face political retribution from the religious majority.

    We hope you will find these comments constructive in formulating a sound policy for the smooth operation of public school meetings. We look forward to seeing such a policy. As far as local school boards are concerned, we will follow up separately with them.


Julian Hatch
For the Board of Directors

cc: Utah State Board of Education
Dr. Patti Harrington,
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

John S. McAllister,
Assistant Attorney General

Hello --

I'm an education reporter at the Deseret Morning News and I'm doing a story about school prayer. They're changing the wording on school board agendas so it doesn't look like the state's sponsoring the prayer. Someone from the state office of education told me that the Utah Atheists sent letters reminding the school boards of the law. Anyway, I'm doing a story on this. I got your e-mail addresses from DMN reporter Elaine Jarvik and was wondering if I could talk to one of you by phone? Please e-mail me with phone numbers. I probably won't call anyone until late afternoon or early evening because I'm on interviews all morning.

Thanks -- Laura
Laura Hancock
Deseret Morning News
1280 S. 800 East, Suite 300
Orem, Utah 84097
(801) 437-7632

Article Last Updated: 2/10/2005 08:17 AM
School board prayer advisory challenged
B y   M i k e   C r o n i n
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
More than half of Utah's cities and towns get it. The Utah Supreme Court does, too. But Utah Atheists says the state's Office of Education misses the point.

The head of Utah Atheists said the office is one of a few public entities that could seek to limit a meeting's opening remarks, which could include prayers, to state school board members.

"This goes against the Society of Separationists v. Whitehead decision," said the organization's director, Julian Hatch, referring to a 1993 Utah Supreme Court decision. That ruling, followed by many Utah cities, allows prayer in government meetings - as long as an opportunity to pray is extended to anyone, including audience members.

"It has to be free speech for everyone," he said. In response to an October letter from Hatch that protested the state school board's opening remarks procedure, Office of Education attorney Carol Lear in December sent suggestions to Utah's school districts.

"We're not directing them how to act," Lear said. "That's up to them. We simply provided them with information."

Lear's suggestions say the state and local boards of education should:
* Develop a policy about opening remarks at meetings.
* Replace "opening prayer" or "invocation" with "more neutral" phrases such as "opening remarks", "reverence" or "welcoming remarks."
* Designate the people who will begin meetings.
Lear also concludes that school boards may restrict opening remarks to board members only.

Hatch then responded last month to Lear's December mailing and outlined his group's continued objections to the state school board's policy.

Janet Cannon, vice chairwoman of the state school board, was not aware of Lear's recommendations to local school districts. Cannon said that the board will consider changing its bylaws to deal with the opening remarks issue at its Feb. 18 meeting.

Jordan School Board President Peggy Jo Kennett said she and her colleagues decided a few years ago to change the name of the beginning of meetings to "reverence."

"Sometimes people give a thought; sometimes they give a prayer - whatever the person feels like they'd like to do," she said. "We give absolutely no direction to what they should say. So, we're comfortable with what Carol Lear has said."

February 26, 2007

Final settlement has been reached in a case involving the use of government money to promote and organize a prayer rally in Jacksonville, Fla. In August, 2006, Jacksonville officials spent approximately $100,000 of taxpayer money to stage a Day of Faith: Arming Our Prayer Warriors" revival meeting featuring government and police officials, and clergy from the area. The religious gathering was supposedly staged to combat the city's soaring homicide rate. AMERICAN ATHEISTS, a nationwide movement defending the separation of church and state, unsuccessfully tried to stop the event, but has now reached a settlement with the city.

Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists, said that in a public letter, Jacksonville officials have announced that they will pay legal costs incurred by the organization. The City also agreed to provide all municipal departments with a notice stating: "With regard to any program that may be presented... (1) Each program must have a secular purpose; (2) Each program must be one which neither advances nor inhibits religion; and (3) Each program must not foster excessive entanglement with religion." Kagin hailed the settlement as a victory for the First Amendment. "We made a solid case that this event encouraged people to 'prayer warriors' and was used to fund an event saturated with religious slogans, prayer, and clergy."

"You can't use public money to put on a religious event," Kagin added. He added that while city officials were still making statements to news media defending the prayer rally, "I don't think we're going to be seeing this sort of constitutional violation in Jacksonville."

Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists, said: "Despite all of the prayers, Jacksonville's homicide rate remains high. The answer to problems like this is social action -- better schools, jobs and civic institutions. All the praying the world doesn't solve unemployment, lack of education, and other social problems."

For further comment, contact: Edwin Kagin, (859) 384-7000 or Ellen Johnson, (908) 276-7300

AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.

American Atheists, Inc.
P. O. Box 5733
Parsippany, NJ 07054-6733
Tel.: (908) 276-7300
Fax: (908) 276-7402

Volunteers welcome to offer prayer at City Hall

By Karen Lambert

Catholics, Buddhists, Mormons, Muslims, atheists, agnostics and those of any other creed will have an opportunity to pray at Logan Municipal Council meetings — if they step up and volunteer.

While Council Chairwoman Laraine Swenson will no longer schedule the traditional opening ceremony, she said at Tuesday’s council meeting she has contacted Cache Community Connections to inform religious leaders she welcomes those who would like to volunteer to say a prayer or thought. She informed The Herald Journal that would apply to any resident.

“Having volunteers pray eliminates any pressure on those who for whatever reason are uncomfortable praying upon request and allows those who would like to participate to do so,” Swenson wrote in an e-mail to The Herald Journal on Thursday.

However, she has set some criteria. The prayer or thought must be three minutes or less. The name of the person set to pray or give a thought must be on the agenda by the Thursday preceding the council meeting. All volunteers will be assigned a meeting, unless there is more interest than days available.

Already, two individuals have requested to pray and are scheduled at the next two meetings, Swenson said.

One of those is Councilman Jay Monson, who said he’d be happy to pray any time no other volunteer steps up.

“I believe in prayer at the beginning of public meetings,” Monson said. “I was a member of the State Board of Education for three years and I was a county commissioner and then a councilmember and we always had a prayer.”

Monson said prayer was part of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s inauguration last week and is a practice of the Utah Legislature and the U.S. Congress. When he was a professor at the University of Cairo in Egypt, he said the first thing people heard each morning in the Muslim community was the call to prayer.

“In all the countries of the world prayer is common,” Monson said. “Whether they believe in the same supreme being that I do, I still think it’s prayer; I really do believe we’re all one when it comes right down to it. ... In our community of Logan, we’re a community of churches. I believe that’s the common bond that ties us altogether. So I’m firmly committed to prayer.”

However, Monson said he doesn’t believe anyone who’s uncomfortable — whether by attending a meeting or as an elected official — should feel they need to participate in prayer. He said he doesn’t see any harm in allowing agnostics or atheists in participating in their own way either.

“I hope we do have volunteers from religions other than the predominant religion in Utah because whatever religion a person belongs to they would have a right to have a comment and offer a prayer,” he said.

Logan City Attorney Kymber Housley said courts have stated prayer is allowed as part of a city’s opening ceremony if there’s a neutral policy to ensure all have equal opportunity to participate.

“You don’t review somebody’s prayer for content,” Housley said. “You just have to open it up to anyone that wants to — atheists, agnostics, anyone.”

That was just as true under Logan’s former policy as it is under Swenson’s new one, he said.

Swenson said her husband, Doug, was among the original founders of Cache Community Connections and enjoyed visiting services of other denominations and getting to know religious and civic leaders of Cache Valley.

“I also enjoyed those associations with people for whom we both have the greatest respect,” she said.



DR. ED BUCKNER, President of American Atheists has been chosen to deliver the "invocation" at next Tuesday's meeting of the Cobb County, GA. Commission.. The event will take place at the BOC Room, second floor, 100 Cherokee St. in Marietta, GA. at 7:00 PM. The venue is located off the square in Marietta.

According to dictionaries, an "invocation" is an act "calling on a higher power."

Ed Buckner was one of the plaintiffs in a 2006 law suit which challenged the practice of having sectarian prayer to open County Commission meetings. Those chosen to deliver the prayer reflected a sectarian, often evangelical Christian point of view. One result of the suit was that the court criticized this practice; since then, the County has been trying to keep prayer in government by randomly selecting people to deliver an "invocation."

Buckner firmly opposes any and all prayer, whatever its denominational affiliation, at government meetings.

There MAY be an informal, on-your-own social event/get-together following the Cobb County event. For more information, e-mail Ed Buckner at ebuckner@atheists.org or call 770-803-5353.

WHO & WHAT: Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, delivers a very special "invocation" at the Cobb County Commission Meeting.

WHEN: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 7:00 PM

WHERE: BOC Room, second floor, 100 Cherokee St. in Marietta, GA. at 7:00 PM. The venue is located off the square in Marietta.

MORE INFO: For more information, e-mail Ed Buckner at ebuckner@atheists.org or call 770-803-5353.

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

Romney seems disingenuous
Deseret News (Salt Lake City), Dec 10, 2007
Mitt Romney, as a good Mormon, must pay 10 percent of his gross income to his church in Salt Lake City. He thus supports an organization that battalions thousands of missionaries throughout the world to explain to their audience that they have the wrong religion and will not fare well in the hereafter unless they switch to the Mormon tithe-demanding religion. Yet today he espoused tolerance in matters of faith. Is he ... what do we call it these days ... "disingenuous"?

Harald Illig

I'm a 'dedicated' atheist, too... But----
Life after death is not necessarily connected with religion, gods...
Perhaps mostly atheists would see freezing -- cryonics -- freezing of the
whole body or of just the head as a viable alternative to achieve
resurrection. There is no theoretical reason why a well-preserved
brain cannot be rejuvenated and connected with a new body. Perhaps
mostly atheists would see life after death. Wouldn't that be funny!

Shhh -- don't pass it on! Why drag these god-morons along,
into the next life?

BTW I checked out your cattabe page, it is great!

Harald  www.nerdworld.com


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