January 13, 2009

Christians Upset Over Indianapolis Paper Pulling Prayer

The Indianapolis StarImage via WikipediaWhen the Indianapolis Star decided to stop printing a daily Christian prayer, something they had been inexplicably doing since 1963, they made a deliberate editorial decision:
We appreciate that this has been a long tradition in The Star. But we are re-evaluating our mission and all that we do. I believe that prayer is a very personal thing and that offering prayers is something for individuals and their churches. We are a newspaper, not a church.

Also, we do live in a society in which there are many, many different beliefs. We respect all religions, and the prayer was written only from the Christian perspective.

Because of those issues, we have decided to drop the prayer. I’m confident that people will continue to offer their own prayers reflecting their own lives and faith needs.
It will surprise no one that they have received their share of complaints from Christians. Suppose for a second that the situation was different and a paper that had not previously done so announced that they were going to start printing a Christian prayer each day. What would happen?

Assuming that atheist readers noticed, I suspect that some would complain. Some might go so far as to cancel their subscriptions to the paper. Some atheist bloggers might opine that it was a mistake for a major paper to promote religious drivel, and I'd likely be one of them.

Christians would rush to the defense of the paper and argue that they had the right to print a prayer if they so desired. They would say that atheists could complain all they wanted but that it was up to the paper to determine whether they wanted to do this. After all, the paper is not a part of government. These Christians would be correct. The paper would indeed be free to make such a decision, just as we atheists would be free to complain about it.

I wonder how many of the Christians now complaining realize this. Of course, they have the right to complain, protest, boycott, etc. I value these rights and encourage upset Christians to exercise them. I only wish that they would extend the same courtesy to we atheists instead of immediately trying to make the issue into one of good and evil.

H/Ts to Pharyngula and Negligible Knowledge Base

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