Sunday, September 20, 2015

Only Christian Prayers Allowed by Arizona City

A typical American might have thought that a 2014 Supreme Court decision restored prayer to its rightful place in civic proceedings, but over the past several months, minority religions and all varieties of atheists have demanded the right to lead "prayers."

This week, the City Council of Coolidge, Arizona voted 4-to-2 to only allow Christian prayers before it meetings, but its legal counsel and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona have warned of discrimination lawsuits, and locals are arguing over the definition of "Christian."

For background, read 13 States vs. ACLU in Appeals Court over Civic Prayer even though the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Allows Christian Prayer in Civic Meetings

UPDATE 2/13/16: Arizona Town Council Prays to Jesus, Rabbi Fumes

Click headlines below to read previous articles:

Christian Invocation Outrages California City Council

Florida Battles Satanic 'Prayer' at Civic Meetings City-by-City

Texas Sharia Tribunal Judge Gives Muslim Prayer at Rodeo

Muslim Prayer Ends Invocation Policy in North Carolina

-- From "Arizona council moves toward allowing only Christian prayer" by The Associated Press 9/19/15

Councilman Rob Hudelson moved to amend the proposal, saying Christianity is in the country’s history.

Councilman Gilbert Lopez, a member of a Catholic church, voted to reject the Christian prayer-only proposal.

“We are of the opinion it would violate the Constitution and send a really bad message to folks that live in the town of Coolidge that, if they’re not Christian, then they are excluded from participating in government affairs,” [ACLU legal director Victoria] Lopez told The Associated Press.

Mayor Jon Thompson is a Christian and also voted against the resolution, the Casa Grande Dispatch reported. He said the council is knowingly heading toward litigation it can’t afford.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Arizona city council considers proposal to only allow Christian prayer at meetings" posted at 9/17/15

The Casa Grande Dispatch reports Fairhaven Baptist Church pastor and the city’s public safety chaplain Byron Sanders presented the original ordinance. That resolution called for sending letters to ministers of all faiths around the city and would have allowed a rotating cast of prayer leaders at the start of each council meeting.

Councilman Gary Lewis voted in favor of the proposal. He said he may leave the room if he didn’t support the person who was delivering the prayer.

"Under my faith, I wouldn't sit here and listen to it," Lewis said. "I would walk away."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Coolidge council considers limiting prayer to Christian groups" by Alia Beard Rau, The Arizona Republic 9/16/15

On Monday's agenda was a resolution to allow members of all religious organizations within Coolidge to offer a prayer, moment of silence or short message at the start of council meetings. Councilman Rob Hudelson, a Baptist pastor, suggested amending the resolution to limit it to only Christian groups. His proposal passed on a 4-2 vote.

"I've had conversations with many people in the public, including local pastors," [Councilman Gary Lewis] said. "And while many agree that it was a good idea, it is not something that would be (legally) successful, and I agree with that. I don't agree with anything that would bring that much litigation towards the city."

Lewis said he would prefer that no invocation be allowed before meetings, as is city policy now. Coolidge allowed invocations from 1996 to 2007, but Lewis said they stopped due to a lack of interest from the religious community.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Anti-Catholic protesters support Coolidge’s ‘Christian-only’ prayer plan" by Joey Chenoweth, Coolidge Examiner 9/18/15

[Jay Johnson and Dorothy Johnson say they] were called to Coolidge because of the uproar surrounding the Coolidge City Council’s vote . . .

“We believe that prayer should be limited to the true god,” Jay Johnson said. “When you have prayer in just a general Christian manner, you’re going to bring in all sorts of false religions. A lot of people call themselves Christians, but they’re not Christians. The Roman Catholic rape machine, where they rape little boys, girls or nuns? That’s not Christian, is it? The Mormons teach about false gods, and they call themselves Christians.

“If you’re going to take this step, you really need to pray to the creator of heaven and earth, and that is Yahshua.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Prayer controversy: Coolidge’s Christian-only resolution to be reassessed" by Joey Chenoweth, Coolidge Examiner 9/18/15

The [Monday "emergency"] meeting will begin at 6 p.m. with an executive session in which the council will receive legal counsel out of the public eye. City Attorney Denis Fitzgibbons previously advised the council not to include the Christian-only stipulation. Council members will then convene a regular open meeting at 6:30 p.m., during which they will be able to vote on the issue of invocations at meetings.

[The ACLU's Victoria] Lopez said at least one complaint had been filed with her office since the story broke Tuesday, but she had not had time to properly review its contents. She said the ACLU could take legal action if the council stays the course.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation [FFRF] also sent a letter Thursday, addressed to Coolidge Mayor Jon Thompson, warning the council not to adopt an invocation policy that excludes non-Christians.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.