Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Writer objects to N.C. town's change from moment of silence to Christian prayer at official meetings

Mark Jamison
When the Supreme Court ruled last month that public agencies don't violate the Constitution by opening meetings with a Christian prayer that respects other faiths, the justices in the 5-4 majority may not have considered the realities of small towns, where "leaders should think twice before assuming everyone is the same when it comes to religion—or lack thereof," retired United Parcel Service employee Mark Jamison writes for the Daily Yonder.

Jamison reports that the small town of Dillsboro, N.C., has used the ruling to change the opening of its meetings from a moment of silence to a Christian prayer, with mayor Mike Fitzgerald defending the decision by declaring that everyone in Dillsboro is Baptist, Jamison writes. But the town has two churches, one that's Baptist, the other that's non-denominational, and some of the 232 residents might not be Christians at all, Jamison notes.

Fitzgerald told The Sylva Herald that the prayer was about seeking wisdom, not conversions. He said, “We’re not trying to make anybody a Christian. We are just going to ask for a blessing on the town’s decisions.”

But if "he is not trying to make anybody a Christian, then there’s no reason that he and like-minded board members couldn’t gather quietly before their meeting and ask for specific religious guidance," Jamison writes. "Fitzgerald’s actions seem designed to demonstrate a particular prejudice, not simply toward a Christian preference but even a denominational one with his presumption that, 'We ain’t got nothing but Baptists in town.' Mayor Fitzgerald’s decision to open town council meeting with prayer seems quick and lacking thought or insight." (Read more)

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