Letter to the Editor:
In response to the three gripes/grins in last week’s paper, I dug out the issue of the Forum they referred to as I thought perhaps I had read that original gripe incorrectly. I had not. I did not see that the writer was ‘suddenly worried’ and ‘disgusted’ with a prayer/invocation being said at city council meetings. I also did not discern an ‘atheistic point of view’. I re-read that gripe as one showing the writer as being concerned and disappointed, period.
Many people, religious, atheists, or those that just do not practice an organized religion, are uncomfortable with religion at city council meetings. It is divisive, as these posts, gripes and grins attest to. Our own council members are divided, with one council person explicitly stating that prayers/invocations are, indeed, divisive and unnecessary. Our Supreme Court, in its ruling in 2014, stated that prayers or invocations at meetings of local legislative bodies, while legal, will inevitably cause some community members to feel isolated or excluded and may divide communities along religious lines. To engage in such practices is not to be taken lightly.
I believe prayer is between the person praying and whoever it is they are praying to. Praying in a church meeting or gathering, while not so private, is an expected and desired thing done amongst friends of the same beliefs or religion. As one of the gripe writers stated, prayer, in light of our current national atmosphere, is a good thing and one that should not be the last resort. I agree, but not in a civil setting. Private prayer and praying in a church or religious setting gives me peace and solace; praying amongst strangers does not. I know that I am not alone in my concern; many people around town have spoken to me about this issue and share my concerns.
Would the writers of last week gripes be concerned if a Muslim Iman, Jewish Rabbi, or Catholic priest said the invocation or prayer at city council? Law states that if a prayer is given before a civil meeting, all faiths must be welcomed. We do not exist as a solely Christian nation … or city.
I believe in our city council and their wisdom. We voted for them and they represent differing but serious views about how our city should be run. I support our mayor in the job he is doing although I may not always agree, as is the case with praying before a meeting. I have faith that Tim Fletcher can his job well without having to publicly invoke a deity to guide him.