Ga. Seniors Told They Can't Pray Before Meals

**PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. – **Preston Blackwelder proudly showed off a painting of his grandmother that had hung next to the front door of his Port Wentworth home.
She was the woman who led him to God, Blackwelder said Friday.
And with that firm religious footing, Blackwelder said it would be preposterous to stop praying before meals at Port Wentworth’s Ed Young Senior Citizens Center near Savannah because of a federal guideline.
“She would say pray anyway,” Blackwelder said of his grandmother. “She’d say don’t listen.”
But Senior Citizens Inc. officials said Friday the meals they are contracted by the city to provide to Ed Young visitors are mostly covered with federal money, which ushers in the burden of separating church and state.
On Thursday, the usual open prayer before meals at the center was traded in for a moment of silence.

A Russian-American Jewish atheist [whose grandmother was a devout Communist (with a capital “C”)] once told me that if prayer is allowed, “you just don’t know what might happen”.

[Not making this up.]

Having worked in a nusing facility in college, I’ve seen the quality of some of the meals senior citizens are subjected to and you bet I’d be praying over it that it didn’t kill me.:eek:
What a rediculous notion and quite against what the founding fathers had in mind!

Ok, so can they pray before they get into the dining room? Before the food is put in front of them? Surely, they are allowed to pray individually in their rooms? All of the nursing homes I’ve been familiar with (granted, only about 4) have taken medicare or medicaid money (that’s how my relatives paid), but had church services (several different ones, covering different denominations, including Mass) every week. How come that’s allowed, but praying before meals isn’t?

Honestly, I don’t understand these government types who can’t distinguish between allowing people to pray and establishing a State religion. THAT’S what “separation of church and state” is, not stripping any mention of God or Jesus from anything that has anything to do with government anything. :rolleyes:

In Christ,


I’m still a little unclear on the details of this case, but it sounds as if they did not have a group prayer over this particular meal – they simply had a moment of silence instead.

I don’t think that any individual person was prevented from praying – in fact, what they did was exactly the opposite: they gave everyone an opportunity to pray silently, which anybody can always do at any time on any day.

You people don’t seem to understand this important part of church/state separation: no one is going to prevent anyone from praying – it’s merely that official, group prayers cannot be allowed in government-run institutions or institutions receiving government money.

I’m not sure how exactly it works in this case, but in other areas, like public schools, it’s crystal clear: any student can always pray at any time; it’s just that group prayers led by government employees (school instructors) cannot be allowed.

Then why are nursing homes (which get medicare and medicaid funds) allowed to have church services? What if everyone of those seniors were Christians and wanted to pray “together” (life a family does) before they eat? That is NOT “establishing a State religion”, which is what the 1st amendment is all about, not about forbidding the mention of God anywhere a government dollar has been spent!

In Christ,


There’s a difference between providing for the religious needs of individual members and having mandatory prayer for every one of them. The army, for example, has chaplains and services (for various religions), but it doesn’t have mandatory prayer for all soldiers.

It’s the mandatory part that is the problem.

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