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How Do You Feel About Family Core Values?

06 Mar

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In Recent Decades We’ve Lost A Lot, Including our Core Values

Let's Put these Values back into Family & Community

Let’s Put these Values back into Family & Community

We often go to the community to ask what you think and what you want. We then use that information to go out and tell the world that’s what you want. It’s all about you, our families, and our communities. So now, again, we’re turning to you, our readers, for guidance on what you’d like to see done in our communities.

This time it’s all about re-establishing family values in our own hearts and homes, and core values in our communities and local government. Why? Because it seems they got lost in the shuffle somehow. We lack vision, spirituality, caring often in our own homes, more often in the streets of our communities, and all too often in our local government offices.

We have a couple of questions to ask and would appreciate it very much if you’d take a moment of time to let us know what you think about the following topics:

Town Marriage Officer

two become one smallThe New York State Domestic Relations Law, Section 11-c authorizes Town Boards to appoint Marriage Officers have the authority to solemnize marriages within the town. The Marriage Officer is available to solemize and officiate at civil marriage ceremonies after the couple has gone through the legal formalities of obtaining a marriage licence etc. The Marriage Officer would meet with the couple and chat about the meaning of marriage and other important topics about marriage and sharing a life together. The Marriage Officer would also assist in organizing and arranging the actual ceremony along the preferences of the couple, while ensuring that the basic requirements of law concerning legal marriage are incorporated into the ceremony, whether religious, spiritual, or secular/humanist. Of course, the Marriage Officer would be appropriately trained and educated to do this work.

Why a Marriage Officer? Well, very simply put, too many marriages are done even by clergy without taking the unique characteristics of the individuals contemplating marriage into consideration, or they’re hell bent on some religious legalism that scares or confuses the hell out of young people. All too frequently the priest or minister doesn’t take the time nor does he or she have the listening skills required to hear what the partners are saying. Too much PC, too. That has to change because it’s killing the family unit.

The Town Marriage Officer would not be compensated by the Town but NYS law does provide that the Marriage Officer may receive $75.00 for performing a civil ceremony solemnizing a marriage. The fee would be paid by the parties contracting marriage.

Invocation before Public, Town, Village Meetings

Contrary to what some raging atheists and secularist liberals might have planted in American minds, prayer is not prohibited in government functions. Congress opens each session with prayer, the Supreme Court opens with an invocation, the President and other government officials take oaths on the Bible, and our courts all take oaths on the Bible. Prayer and invoking divine guidance is deeply rooted in our American traditions.

The opening sessions of legislative and other deliberative public bodies with prayer is deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country. [Supreme Court in Marsh v. Chambers]

invocation-2In a landmark case involving invocations or public prayer, in Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983), the United States Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the Nebraska Legislature’s practice of opening each day of its sessions with a prayer by a chaplain paid with taxpayer dollars, and specifically concluded, “The opening sessions of legislative and other deliberative public bodies with prayer is deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country. From colonial times through the founding of the Republic and ever since, the practice of legislative prayer has coexisted with the principles of disestablishment and religious freedom.” The Supreme Court further held, “To invoke divine guidance on a public body….Is not, in these circumstances, and ‘establishment’ of religion or a step toward establishment; it is simply a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country.” The Supreme Court affirmed in Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984), “Our history is replete with official references to the value and invocation of Divine guidance in deliberations and pronouncements of the Founding Fathers and contemporary leaders.” The Supreme Court further stated, “Those government acknowledgments of religion serve, in the only ways reasonably possible in our culture, the legitimate secular purposes of solemnizing public occasions, expressing confidence in the future, and encouraging the recognition of what is worthy of appreciation in society. For that reason, and because of their history and ubiquity, those practices are not understood as conveying governmental approval of particular religious beliefs.”

We’d like to get your opinion on whether you would appreciate and support the practice of opening our local government sessions with prayer or an invocation.

Town Chaplain

There are many occasions where a spiritual guide would be beneficial in a town or village. Many government organizations have chaplains who care for the spiritual needs of their members. Police, fire department, rescue, emergency response units all have chaplains, as do all military branches.

chaplain emergency responseThe Town Chaplain would serve as the go to for fire and rescue personnel, for law enforcement, even for other employees who are facing crisis or conflict.

When disaster strikes a community, the community is frequently unprepared to handle the spiritual needs of the victims and usually has to resort to calling in outsiders to provide psychological first aid and spiritual support. Why should that be?

The Town Chaplain would be a qualified individual with ministry and other training who would be available to fire department, rescue squad, law enforcement and to town employees who need spiritual care and support. Believe it or not, that happens more than you’d think, and many times these persons don’t get the care they need and everyone suffers for that.

And what happens when there’s a local tragedy or disaster? The Town should have a coordinator for first response to the victims, in this case their spirits.

The Town Chaplain would receive a per diem stipend from the Town for each service. A minimum of $50 up to $100 for a day’s commitment.

Hang in there, we’re almost done!

Town Chaplain Stipend

Of course, in all fairness, the Town Chaplain would be spending time and energy to do that job. Would you agree that a small stipend or fee should be allowed,say a minimum of $50 per call or $100 per day, for example?

 

Just one more question:

Tell us where you live


All done! Be sure to check back in a day or two and view the results. These polls are not only useful to us in our journalistic work but are fun, too, for our readers to see what friends and neighbors are thinking.
Thanks again very much for participating!

Nature Can Teach Us!
The Editor
Religion and Spirituality

 

4 responses to “How Do You Feel About Family Core Values?

  1. CKP

    March 6, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    I grant this section is no longer in the NYS Constitution, but it’s worth at least remembering that it once was even if it’s not there to guide anything today:

    “And whereas the ministers of the gospel are, by their profession, dedicated to the service of God and the care of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their function; therefore, no minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatsoever, shall, at any time hereafter, under any presence or description whatever, be eligible to, or capable of holding, any civil or military office or place within this State.”

    With respect to your comment that “the President and other government officials take oaths on the Bible, and our courts all take oaths on the Bible”

    They’re not required to take oaths on the Bible, and many haven’t. “There is no established form of an oath, although it has been noted that “[t]he ceremony should be `solemn * * * an unequivocal act of assent to tell the truth.'” (Siegel, NY Prac § 388, at 584 [2d ed], citing Second Prelim Report of Advisory Comm on Practice and Procedure, 1958 NY Legis Doc No. 13, at 204.) This court holds that reference to a divine being (e.g., “So help you God”), or alternatively, an affirmation in lieu of an oath based upon religious reasons, is not necessary, and a statement to the same effect as made by the respondent Judge in open court would be sufficient to meet the criteria of CPLR 2309 (b).”
    MATTER OF O’CONNELL v. Taddeo, 174 Misc. 2d 110 – NY: Supreme Court, Monroe 1997.

    Those that do take oaths on the Bible frequently violate those oaths – the vast majority of public servants in the Smalbany area, wouldn’t you say? In connection with that, James 5:12 and Matthew 5:34-37 are interpreted by some to prohibit oaths. Do things or don’t do things, but don’t ever swear an oath because if you do and break it (and people, being fallible, will necessarily break at least some of their oaths) you will have sinned. Swearing oaths on the Bible doesn’t keep people from lying. If God were to immediately strike down with lightning those who violated oaths made on the Bible, I might zealously favor the practice universally!

    Encouraging oaths by one’s religion also leads to peculiar consequences like:

    Larson, Leslie. “Pastafarian politician takes oath of office wearing colander on his head.” N.Y. Daily News. January 7, 2014.

    As strange or irreverent as that man might be, I suspect he’ll be truer to his oath than, e.g., Andrew Cuomo to his.

    What prohibits people from turning to local religious leaders for spiritual care and support? What prohibits religious leaders from working together to ensure that they can provide a coordinated response in case of a crisis? If people are somehow unaware of who the local religious leaders are but desire to know, municipal workers could certainly provide that information – I’d be surprised if they don’t already.

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    • RCS Confidential

      March 6, 2014 at 10:34 pm

      Your points are well-taken. We are well aware that certain religious denominations prohibit their clergy from holding pubic office. That’s a good thing. But it doesn’t mean that they cannot or should not represent the traditions of this country when called upon to do so in the service of well-founded tradition.

      Oaths are good only insofar as the individual swearing the oath feels bound by conscience to uphold the oath. That’s our point. In a society and culture that has no core values or beliefs and where the individual is the ultimate value, no oath will survive. In other words, in such a society (1) any oath sworn is ineffective because it lacks fundamental force, (2) individuals are responsible only to themselves and to nothing outside themselves which nullifies the effect and purpose of the oath in the first place: to bind the oath-taker to something that transcends the oath-taker.

      A perfunctory oath is no oath at all. That’s what we are seeing in our lying, hypocritical, scandalous political system today.

      I’m not sure whether your final thought is rhetorical or what. First of all, when people have been alienated or alienate themselves from religion or from institutionalized spiritual communities they ultimately lose their way and cannot find their way back. They simply don’t have a clue. Secondly, religious leaders, if leaders they be, are religious leaders because they uphold a dyad of their way and the others’ ways; their way or the highway. The diversity of dogma and dicta is mindboggling to such a degree that we have myriad splinter and fractional groups within denominations, preachers of every color and flavor, even God has gone from pure spirit to male or female. What keeps religious leaders from working together you ask: pride. They have their agendas and they have their objectives. Those who claim to be religious leaders are not really religious, they are more or less socialists practicing a psychology and sociology of social action a.k.a. social justice. That’s not always bad because a lot of good comes from it but it is misleading. I’m not so sure that you can really defend your statement that municipal workers could provide information on religious leaders. Indeed, it would be a very rare animal who would have the interest in doing so let alone the knowlege. Where on earth did you get that notion, anyway?

      The Editor

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      • CKP

        March 6, 2014 at 11:51 pm

        “individuals are responsible only to themselves and to nothing outside themselves which nullifies the effect and purpose of the oath in the first place: to bind the oath-taker to something that transcends the oath-taker”

        There’s supposed to be legal consequences for people who break their oaths, though I don’t know that that’s often enforced. Not around here, anyway!

        “religious leaders, if leaders they be, are religious leaders because they uphold a dyad of their way and the others’ ways; their way or the highway”

        I don’t mean those who engage in grandstanding of various kinds, the Al Sharptons and Fred Phelpses. I was thinking of the average leaders of local congregations, who I hope could find a way to work together in some way when it came to a crisis.

        A town chaplain would be a politically-appointed religious leader. How would such a person avoid the problems that too often come with being a political appointee, and the problems you attach to religious leaders?

        “I’m not so sure that you can really defend your statement that municipal workers could provide information on religious leaders”

        I don’t see what would prevent municipal workers from identifying places locally where people could who have spiritual needs could potentially meet them, e.g. http://www.townofbethlehem.org/documentcenter/view/2717 Providing that information shouldn’t violate any law or bring up any constitutional issues.

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      • RCS Confidential

        March 7, 2014 at 8:06 am

        And finally, and this will be the last one for you today, CPK, others are waiting 😉

        Breaking an oath, perjury, making a false statement, as dire as the moral consequences are, is treated very leniently in this country. What does breaking an oath mean? It means renegging on a commitment. Look at the divorce rate. It means lying or the making a commitment you never meant to keep. Think about the last time you lied not to have to do something. It means putting your own interests before those of others you vow to serve. Think about our public servants and elected officials. We have become a nation of liars, frauds, and charlatons. But the worst of this is that it has become so much of our character, we start to think it’s OK. Where does that lead, do you think?

        To be honest, I know a lot of clergy of many, many denominations. To be further honest, some of them are very fine men, who do a great job with what they have to work with. I don’t even include the charlatans Sharpton and his ilk in the concept of clergy; they’re an abomination. Being who I am, what I am, where I come from, and what I know, I can make a somewhat qualified statement that the majority of “clergy” and “religious leaders” are Nacissists or worse. They are either in a deep love affair with themselves and their own invented importance, or they have an agenda, either power (not authority), money, or pleasure (yes, sex), all of which do not fit into the frame of what we generally (at least in my socioeconomic class and generation) call clergy or “religious leader.” So the conversation stops there when we’re discussing clergy or religious leaders. Clergy and the religious, lay or ordained, must be what we call in the field, servant leaders.

        Now to your statement that a town chaplain must be politically appointed and thus be politically indebted, I find to be a bit narrow-minded, to be frank. No-one allegedly serving the public’s interests should be politically enslaved, least of all someone, appointed or not, who is or should be beyond politics. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesars…” “A man cannot serve two masters…” But then, to be honest, we have to admit that the appointee must have personal and professional boundaries and integrity, and character and authenticity to resist the pressure to be political. And here is the fundamental fatal (mortal, if you prefer) condition: Once the chaplain or his prayers take on the color of politics they become partisan; when they become partisan they become preferential; when they become preferential they take on the color of establishment of something; when they take on the color of establishment they then become simply ILLEGAL! Does that respond to your concern?

        The point I am making is that you or the appointing body has to be prudent and not put someone of weak character or weak principles in a position of visibility and trust; the damage can be morally, socially, psychologically, spiritually, and even politically paralyzing. But this is what is frequently done in many places who think they need a fire department chaplain, or an organizational chaplain, or an emergency response chaplain: they just pick someone up who drools God and goes to church. That’s not a chaplain! A chaplain is one who comes with experiential, academic and professional credentials who has received the training and formation in the things chaplains do: pastoral and spiritual care, leadership, liturgy and worship, crisis and conflict management and support, and faith traditions (not just one!). I think we’re talking about two different notions of what a chaplain really is: the pedestrian notion and the professional notion.

        If you are hinting that municipal workers can go down the list in a telephone book or the Chamber of Commerce directory and become familiar with faith communities and their particular leaders, I’ll grant you that is certainly possible. If you are hinting that municipal workers through their day-to-day contacts and operations acquire knowledge of religious communities and faith communities in their territory I’ll grant you that one, too. But if you are advocating that either of those situations makes the municipal worker (I’m not quite certain what you mean by “municipal worker,” a term that includes everything from the town supervisor to the local waste collection engineer or sewerage treatment plant laborer. You haven’t been clear on that.) the municpal worker competent to provide information on or to recommend a “religious leader” or a pastoral or spiritual care provider as being professionally competent, I don’t buy that for a minute. That’s not the kind of recommendation I or anyone else seriously interested in religion or spirituality should have to rely on. Now it would be the job of the town chaplain to be the community outreach person to faith and religious communities locally and more regionally and to know a fair amount about the community, it’s leaders, etc. That’s part of the chaplain’s job, and he has or should have received professional training in doing that.

        You hint that the municipal works should be capable of making a spiritual assessment of the inquirer’s needs. That’s a forgivable error. Spiritual assessment is like taking a medical history, my friend, either you do it right and help or you do it wrong and harm. But you do make a very good point at the end of your comment by mentioning that by providing such information the municipal worker may navigate perilously close to violating establishment law. That’s again why a trained chaplain is the only way to go.

        The link you provide is an excellent resource and I think that every town should provide such a resource to visitors and to residents alike. But there’s a difference between providing information and providing advice. What the brochure does is provide information (unless it makes the mistake of providing a recommendation) and leaves the decision to the reader. That’s a good thing and that’s where it shoud stop in the case of the municipal worker. The chaplain, on the other hand, would have the expertise to comment and recommend, if asked, and to critique, if asked. Big difference.

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