Thursday, February 4, 2016

On a Phoenix Brouhaha Regarding City Council Prayers

My daughter lives several large states and one to two time zones away, depending on Daylight Savings timing, She's not plugged in to Phoenix local news. As an atheistic activist, I thought she might be particularly interested in recent events down here. I know I was, even as "just" an agnostic. So I sent her the following email a bit ago:

Just an fyi for you. You can do more research in local news outlets if you care to. This is just a summary gleaned from local news, the bits sandwiched between Super Bowl, Waste Management Golf, Zika, and traffic coverage.

A group of Satanists applied for, and fought for over several years, the right to say their own prayer at the Phoenix City Council meetings. They were finally put on the agenda for later this month after attorney advisement that they couldn't be singled out when Judeo-Christian prayers were offered regularly. Naturally, as soon as it got some press, folks went bat-shit crazy. That got more press. A special council meeting was held to discuss it. All the usual opinions were expressed.

The upshot is that the city council will now be having a moment of silence rather than anybody's prayers being spoken.

This being Arizona, somebody in the legislature is sure to try to bring a bill up to defy the constitution.

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A tiny note of perspective from a former small town mayor: We never had prayers. And despite repeated encouragement to me, we never started meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance during my 8 years either. I started each year with a sworn promise to uphold the constitution. That was enough. I didn't need to hold a piece of fabric as a sacred object, and I figured everybody could make their own determination as to whether any deity held jurisdiction over zoning, water and sewer improvements, stray dogs, or tax billing.

Love you,

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