Saturday, December 29, 2007

Taking a stand

Recently, the town council of Queen Creek voted and approved the process of having an invocation before each town council meeting going forward. In plain English, this means that the town of Queen Creek will be reading a prayer before each meeting. They will be offering an open invitation to members of all faiths to read a prayer. Councilwoman Lisa Colletto Cohen had suggested an alternative idea of allowing a moment of silence so people could pray, reflect or do what they wish during that time. That suggestion was pushed aside and by a 6 to 1 vote, the town of Queen Creek opened pandora's gigantic legal box.

I'll be upfront and say that I'm an agnostic. But far more important to me than what faith I worship or not, is the basis of our country, The Constitution. Our forefathers had the foresight and understanding of current events of their time to make the very first thing they granted all of us is the right to freedom of religion. But it also guarantees the separation between church and state. This is where I have a major problem with what the council did.

Instead of allowing each of us an opportunity to privately pray to our God, Allah, Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever we wish, they decided it was far more important to appease the religious desires of some to make faith a part of the public square. This decision of course was met with applause by those who fought to ensure a new division in the town. I'm sure this decision stemmed from another recent debate on calling the tree we have in front of the town hall a "Holiday Tree" instead of a "Christmas Tree".

While I celebrate everyone's right to pray, attend church, not attend church or practice their faith in their own way, I do take serious offense to this new concept that America is a Christian nation. I took it upon myself to investigate this further to see if we truly were founded on Christian principles and as I expected, nothing was further from the truth. Even in 1960, President John F. Kennedy gave a famous speech where he proclaimed an understanding that the US was not founded on one religion and religious beliefs don't belong in the public square. I could only wish we would return to those days where no religion was treated as a national religion and all faiths were equally respected. But more importantly, I hope the people who are seated on the town council would realize that religion has no business in politics.

As we have passed the time that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, I would like to wish you all a happy holiday season and ask that you consider the words of JFK:

"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all."

Have a safe New Years.



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