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Tue, March 19

Generic prayer at senior center would have to be addressed to 'To Whom It May Concern'<BR>

Prayers at the Chino Valley Senior now either have to be silent or addressed to "To Whom It May Concern."

The Supreme Court rulings on prayer in governnment-supported buildings has made its way to Chino Valley. For now the diners are using only a moment of silence, but the Town will prepare a draft prayer that will comply with the Supreme Court's First Amendment rulings. The senior center advisory board will consider this "generic" prayer, as Mayor Karen Fann called it. She'd rather keep some from of prayer at the center, and at the council meetings, which is also under scrutiny.

The senior center diners, who are mainly elderly folks, have to leave "God" and "Jesus Christ" out of their prayers. To be fair, they'd have to leave out references to "Buddha" and "Allah," as well. From now on they can't talk to any god in particular, except in silence.

Shocked seniors asked whatever happened to the theory that a majority rules?

Their point is that if one were to survey senior center diners on their religious beliefs (that's probably illegal, too), Christians would probably be a majority. An informal look at the yellow pages in the Chino Valley telephone book shows that the community has more Christian churches than any other religious body.

One good thing about the Christian religion is that you don't need to pray aloud to converse with God. And it's still not illegal in America for individuals or families to pray aloud for meals in public places, such as at commercially operated restaurants.

Perhaps Christians who dine at the Chino Valley Senior Center will say, "Keep your moment of silence; I'll just do this myself, thank you." Each can each say their own prayer aloud to themselves, while seated, before the meal, like many do at home. It wouldn't have to be too loud or disruptive to the diner next to them who may not be Christian or who may be nothing at all, but find prayer offensive.

One senior said, "We just want to pray for the food, for our health and for those in our group who may be home sick." Probably no one would mind that, except that Christians want to ask God for those things. If a prayer leaves out references to God, is this still a prayer or just babbling to no one in particular?

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