The City Council in Monroeville, PA, needs a civic lesson. We wrote last month on the ACLU complaint about council members starting every meeting with the Lord’s Prayer.
So what did they spend time on at this month’s meeting? The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that discussion of prayer dominated the Monroeville Council meeting. Nice to see the various the hundreds of other issues facing the community took a back burner to the issue of whether to obey laws or not. As the P-G reported
The issue of prayer at Monroeville Council meetings took up the majority of its Monday citizens-night meeting.
The discussion stemmed from a complaint filed by resident Josh Allenberg last fall with the American Civil Liberties Union, asking elected officials to refrain from leading any specific prayer. Monroeville council has, for nearly five decades, opened its meetings with the Lord’s Prayer.
Several people spoke, both for and against prayer at meetings. Bruce Shafer, pastor at Grace Life Church in Monroeville, said the goal of prayer at meetings is “to pray for our community and the leaders of our community.” He added that residents should be free to pray openly at meetings.
It makes me wonder if Pastor Bruce also thinks non-religious people should feel free to openly talk during the church services at Grace Life. No doubt, the separation of church and state only works in direction in his mind.
The mayor then chimed in with an incorrect understanding of the current law:
Mayor Greg Erosenko said council has three options on what to do regarding prayer at its council meetings: adopt an ordinance that would allow for a rotation of religious leaders of various faiths to provide an invocation; adopt an ordinance that would allow for a moment of silence prior to meetings; or to not have any prayer or moment of silence.
No. In regard to the Supreme Court ruling Greece v. Galloway, the Wall Street Journal noted that
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the 5-4 ruling, emphasized the importance of inclusion, holding the town to a policy that permits “a minister or layperson of any persuasion, including an atheist,” to give the invocation.
The idea of rotating “religious leaders of various faiths to provide an invocation” does not solve the prayer problem. They need to drop the restriction and allow atheists to give invocations, as well. If they do allow all, to speak they must be prepared to hear from citizens competing for FFRF’s ‘Nothing Fails Like Prayer Award’ contest that has produced a number of wonderful, godless invocations.
And, if enough time has not been wasted on this issue, the P-G concludes with:
Council is expected to discuss the ordinance further at its Jan. 12 meeting.