Can you guess why? Since the federal government provides funds to support the meal program for seniors visiting the center, the good ol’ separation of church and state must be adhered to and those eating must not be heard praying.
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.
The dilemma is being hashed out by the Port Wentworth city attorney, said Mayor Glenn “Pig” Jones.
Tim Rutherford, Senior Citizens Inc. vice president, said some of his staff recently visited the center and noticed people praying shortly before lunch was served. …
Oh. My. God!
Rutherford said his company provides meals like baked chicken, steak tips and rice and salads at a cost of about $6 a plate. Seniors taking the meals pay 55 cents and federal money foots the rest of the bill, Rutherford said.
“We can’t scoff at their rules,” he said of federal authorities. “It’s a part of the operational guidelines.”
Rutherford said the moment of silence was introduced to protect that funding. He said although the change may have been misinterpreted, perhaps his company could have done a better job selling it.
“It’s interpreted that we’re telling people that they can’t pray, but we aren’t saying that,” he said. “We’re asking them to pray to themselves. Have that moment of silence.”
Look Rutherford, you’re telling them they can not pray, or how they can pray … same difference.
UPDATE (Jim): From Hot Air … a resolution to the prayer fiasco before it became too much of a fiasco:
Jones had hoped to meet on Tuesday with the city’s attorney and officials from senior center to settle the controversy. But late Monday, officials from the senior center announced a policy reversal.
… “Over our years of service, we have been instructed, as recently as two weeks ago, by the state regulatory agency that verbal prayer was not allowed at any senior center. We are so pleased to say that we have been contacted a few minutes ago by the new Director of Aging clarifying the regulation and reversing the position of new verbal prayer.
I am linking to AP’s take on this because he’s not just funny, but also because I think his analysis is pretty good.
The inevitable conclusion to this afternoon’s outrage du jour. Hope they enjoy the prayers now, because eventually a 90-year-old atheist with a son for a lawyer is going to land there. And pretty soon after that, grandma, you’ll be eating those prunes grace-free.
What can I say? That’s just how we roll.
What’s sad here is he’s probably right. Like sharks, once you’re a target all bets are off. Let the outrage begin. My advice … forget what Nurse Ratched says … go ahead and pray.