A town hall event was held at Grace Baptist Church in Gaylord, Michigan for Congressman Jack Bergman (R-MI). The associate pastor there Dr. Derek Hagland opened up the event with prayer.
Right on cue, protesters – including those with the ctrl-left group Indivisible – countered the pastor’s invocation with chants of “separation of church and state!”
Dr. Hagland continued his prayer despite the protesters’ desire to disrupt the event. Other members of the audience generally ignored the chants and were bowing their heads in prayer with the associate pastor of the church. From Breitbart:
“This guy was giving invocation,” Rep. Bergman’s communication director Farahn Morgan told Breitbart News. “He was not necessarily party affiliated in any way. That kind of reaction to him? It was the most aggressive that the crowd got during the entire event which was, quite honestly, shocking.”
She added that it was surprising that these activists refused “to engage in dialogue after months of demanding there be a dialogue. The display was upsetting for the constituents who attended and really wanted to participate in a dialogue and hear what the congressman thinks and share their thoughts with him in a constructive way. The activists’ behavior flew in the face of any constructive dialogue.” She described the incident as “a coordinated fiasco.”
— Raphael Pires (@rpires_news) April 20, 2017
Here’s another perspective:
I understand that they’re just trying to be as disruptive as possible, but where are they pretending to get this notion that prayer isn’t allowed at a town hall event? Or perhaps they’re outraged that the event is at a church.
Whenever atheists are asked the same question about where the ‘separation of church and state’ comes from, they cite the First Amendment, namely the ‘establishment clause.’ Here’s the First Amendment for review:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Where in there does it say or even suggest anything that prohibits prayer at a political town hall event? Even the establishment clause which atheists often cite as the foundation for the ‘separation of church and state’ suggests nothing of the sort. It says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Praying at a town hall event is not the same as Congress making a law establishing Christianity as America’s official religion.
In addition, the amendment plainly restricts Congress from making a law that prohibits the free exercise of religion. In effect, these protesters are wanting there to be a law that outright bans prayer at political events such as this one. And I’m sure they’d want a law that prohibits these events from taking place at churches. It seems that they’re the ones who want to violate the First Amendment.