Part of a federal lawsuit against Franklin County for a past prayer policy has been dropped by the “secret” plaintiff, who the ACLU in its legal action identified only as “Jane Doe.” Relief no longer is being sought for future alleged violations because the county commission has changed its policy.
County Commissioner John Griesheimer for a period used prayers he wrote to begin meetings and the lawsuit alleged he used the words “Jesus” and the “Lord,” which the vast majority of Franklin Countians did not find offensive. We don’t doubt there are a few other “Jane Does” and “John Does” who did object. The ACLU stands guard over actions such as this, contending that civil liberties must be upheld, along with the Constitution, at all costs.
The case isn’t over because “Jane Doe” and the ACLU want a judge to rule that the county did violate the Constitution on the issue of separation of state and religion, and they want $1 in damages, attorney fees and other relief that the judge may deem appropriate.
In other words, the ACLU and “Jane Doe” want the satisfaction from a judge that they were right and the county was wrong, and, of course, legal fees for the ACLU.
The new county policy is slightly in the bureaucratic jungle: Volunteers can sign up to give the invocation by contacting the secretary to the commission for permission and no questions will be asked about religious preference. The ACLU is monitoring this policy very closely to see if anyone violates the Constitution. Some volunteers have stepped up to offer a prayer.
Wonder if the constitutional “Jane Doe” will say a prayer?
Since we are “old school,” for the life of us, we can’t get excited over this legal dance. We believe in upholding the Constitution. We don’t agree with all of the interpretations the U.S. Supreme Court has given to the sacred document, but we try to abide by them. We believe in the three branches of our federal government, but we don’t always agree with the people who serve in them. We believe very strongly in the will of the people expressed in elections, but, like others, we aren’t always happy with the outcomes.
Some decades back this type of situation would not have occurred in Franklin County. The county has changed. The residents of the county have changed. Some of the changes have been good, some not so good. It’s the same with the people, including our elected officials.
We covered hundreds of county commission meetings. There were no prayers. There were times when prayer may have given better guidance.
This lawsuit has given birth to many other questions about prayer. It is generally accepted that when in the military you are government-owned in a sense and representing the government. Was it against the Constitution for a GI to use the words “Lord” and “Jesus” in prayers when hugging the ground, or in a foxhole or bunker or trenchline, as incoming shells were landing all around him? Or under fire in the air or on the sea? We didn’t see a single ACLU lawyer monitoring those situations!