Georgia Says

Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle on public prayer should unite us, not divide us:

As we wrote in a 1998 editorial, "This newspaper is owned by a Christian businessman. God is the Supreme Being of our universe, and we make no apology for defending America's Judeo-Christian heritage and values."

But even we believe there are limits to what a government can or should do in the realm of public prayer.

We're hoping the U.S. Supreme Court clarifies just what that is soon.

The high court Wednesday hears arguments in a case from Greece, N.Y., in which two non-Christians objected to the town board's overtly Christian prayers to open its meetings.

An appeals court ruled in the plaintiffs' favor, saying the local government was prohibited from favoring one religion in its prayers.

The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take the case indicates it may either overturn or substantially alter that lower-court ruling.

That would be a good thing, if it preserves and strengthens the right of local governments to open meetings with prayer.

The notion put forth by atheists and radical leftists that any public prayer is prohibited by the Constitution is poppycock.

We see nothing wrong with elected leaders acknowledging a higher power. Heaven knows we could use a little more humility in the people who lead us these days.

That said, not all prayers are created equal. A public prayer, quickly forgotten and not necessarily deeply felt by all, can only do so much.

It matters what is being prayed and in what spirit. And not even all heartfelt, well-meaning prayers can be granted.

What they should be, in America, is inclusive.

Savannah (Ga.) Morning News on Vidalia onions protection:

State agriculture officials have done a good job over the years of protecting Georgia's prized Vidalia onions from less sweet imitators.

But this time, it appears they've gone too far.

Farmers in south Georgia who grow this prize crop have hired former state Attorney General Mike Bowers to fight new regulations on when the vegetables can be packed. They're hot that Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black has imposed this new rule, which they say are too arbitrary and will be bad for business.

Black has decreed that no Vidalia onion may be packed or sold before 12:01 a.m. on the Monday of the last full week of April. Next year, that's April 21. He explained that he was concerned that some onions had been harvested too early in recent years, resulting in inferior onions going on the market. That hurts consumer confidence. It also damages the Vidalia onion brand.

The ag commissioner is responsible for promoting and protecting agriculture, one of Georgia's top industries. And Vidalia onions — in addition to being a signature crop for the state — means about $150 million annually to the economy.

But no one knows Vidalia onions as well as the south Georgia farmers who grow them in the designated, 20-county Vidalia onion zone.

Mother Nature doesn't pay attention to rules or schedules or bureaucrats. Sometimes it rains too much. Or too little. Or it's too cold, or too warm.

It's Black's job to protect this crop. But for the farmers, these onions are their livelihoods. They have the most skin in this game.

If some of them are harvesting their onions too soon, the marketplace will punish them. But arbitrary rules can hurt everyone. It's better for the commissioner to educate farmers about the dangers of jumping the gun, as opposed to firing off a rule no one seems to like.



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