Judge Not !

  Consider this a follow-up post to my other posting related to the law suit being brought against the Sussex County Council. The suit charges that the council is violating the so-called separation of church and state, by starting the monthly meetings with the Lord’s Prayer. The suit states that this is clearly a Christian specific prayer and that it is also the Protestant version.  Anyone who wants to know more about the suit can start here,

 http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20110701/NEWS02/107010341/Four-Sussex-residents-sue-over-prayer-at-council-meetings?odyssey=tab|mostpopular|text|FRONTPAGE

  I have already stated my opinion that I feel that the council is acting outside its role as a government body. That it is not afforded the same rights as an individual in relation to free speech. When acting as a body it must represent all citizens, and that by leading a prayer of, or recognizing one specific faith, they are alienating all others.

  My concern is not so much how religion could affect government, but how government could affect religion. I also feel that this was the concerns of the Founding Fathers and why they put religious freedom in the First Amendment.

  I will now attempt to show how religion can be affected, not just by government only, but by man in general. Many times people with the best intentions can misuse the word of God by taking verses out of context. I think that this is the case with The Lord’s Prayer being used by the Sussex County Council. I am not saying they are intentionally misusing the prayer, but in my view they have missed the larger point. The Bible must be taken as a whole, it cannot be broken into pieces for worldly purposes.

  First let us look at the Lord’s Prayer.  I can only assume that the council is using the traditional version from Matthew 6:9-13, King James Version,

    ”  9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

 10Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

 11Give us this day our daily bread.

 12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

  Now what makes this a Christian prayer is the fact that it was given to the disciples by Jesus.

  Now there is nothing in this prayer that could be found to be offensive, right? The problem is that this prayer comes in the middle of the sixth chapter of the Gospel According to Matthew. The problem is that to use this prayer as a public group prayer actually goes against what Jesus was teaching his disciples.

  When we read the entire chapter we see that Jesus was actually instructing his disciples not to pray in public.

  Here is the entire chapter,

  ”

Matthew 6

 1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

 2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

 3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

 4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

 5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

 6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

 7But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

 8Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

 9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

 10Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

 11Give us this day our daily bread.

 12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

 14For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

 16Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

 17But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

 18That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

 19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

 22The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

 23But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

 24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

 25Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

 26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

 27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

 28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

 29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

 30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

 31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

 32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

 34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. ”

  As we see in 6:1-2, Jesus tells them, ”

 1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

 2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

  Then in 6:5-7   Jesus says, ”

 5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

 6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

 7But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

  Again in 6:16-18 Jesus says,”16Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

 17But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

 18That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”

  The rest of the chapter speaks of keeping the two worlds separate, to not lay up treasures for this world, but to lay up treasure in heaven.

  Clearly this chapter in which the Lord’s prayer is contained was intended to teach the disciples that their relationship with God was a personal matter and that public displays of prayers were hypocrisy.

  So it would seem that not only is the Sussex County Council stepping outside their role as a governing body, and possibly going against the original intent of the First Amendment. It would seem as if they are also going against the original intent of the very prayer they are using to do so.

   This is truly the danger when we allow our faith and our government to mingle. Both will be corrupted. When we allow any amount of government involvement in faith we risk allowing more.  If we feel it is right and fine for religion to influence government, then how can we argue against government’s influence upon religion?

   And for those who feel the need to pray before meetings, I would direct them to Matthew 6:8, ” Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. “

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