The city of Lodi, California used to allow non-denominational, non-sectarian prayers before City Council meetings. That was a bad idea back in May when it was instituted.
Somehow, they’ve made it worse.
On Wednesday night, the Lodi (California) City Council voted unanimously, 5-0, to allow uncensored prayers before meetings. That is to say, you can now “pray in Jesus’ name” before council meetings.
This story is getting a lot of attention from Christians everywhere… I wonder how many of them could tell you what issues are discussed at the council meetings post-prayer. Do they know? Do they care? Doubtful. The prayer is all that’s important to them. Not anything of real substance.
With the new changes, other faiths can offer invocations, too. So can the non-religious. But I can see this easily getting out of hand. What will the reaction be when someone praises Allah pre-meeting? Can someone bring up Xenu? Thor?
Lodi and other local cities Tehachapi, Tracy and Turlock are in for a fight over this. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is just waiting to pounce, looking for the right test-case to file a lawsuit.
If you doubt how “Christian” these pre-council prayers are, FFRF has made a chart (PDF) documenting the types of prayers which have been used in the past.
* = Prayer conducted in the name of “Jesus,” “Jesus Christ,” “Christ’s name,” “Your Son’s Name,” or “Lord, in Your Holy Name”
B = Attendees requested to “bow your heads”
W = Excerpts from the Bible or references to Scripture used
G = Christian dogma or sermonizing used
Here’s just the chart from 2008-2009:
|01/16/08||*W||Pastor Chris Chavez||Heartland Community Church|
|02/06/08||G||Pastor Glen Barnes||First Baptist Church|
|02/20/08||*B||Ken Owen||Christian Community Concerns|
|03/05/08||*W||Pastor Kevin Suess||Vinewood Community Church|
|03/19/08||*G||Barbara Taylor||Lodi Police Chaplains|
|04/02/08||Father Brandon Ware||St. Anne’s Catholic Church|
|04/16/08||Revered Dr. Alan Kimber||First United Methodist Church|
|05/07/08||*||Ken Owen||Christian Community Concerns|
|05/21/08||Pastor Mark Price||St. Paul Lutheran Church|
|06/04/08||*||Pastor Bill Cummins||Bear Creek Community Church|
|06/18/08||*G||Pastor Steve Newman||First Baptist Church|
|07/02/08||*||Pastor Marianne Weethee||Heartland Community Church|
|07/16/08||*B||Ken Owen||Christian Community Concerns|
|08/06/08||Ken Owen||Christian Community Concerns — no show|
|08/20/08||Pastor Marianne Weethee||Heartland Community Church|
|09/03/08||*B||Reverend John Kah||St Peter Lutheran Church|
|09/17/08||Reverend Alan Kimber||First United Methodist Church|
|10/01/08||*||Pastor Bill Cummins||Bear Creek Community Church|
|10/15/08||*W||Arlene Proctor||First Reader — 1st Church of Christ, Scientist|
|11/05/08||*B||Pastor Ken Owen||Christian Community Concerns|
|11/19/08||*B||Reverend David Hill||Grace Presbyterian Church|
|12/03/08||*||Rod Suess||Vinewood Community Church|
|12/17/08||*B,G||Ken Owen||Christian Community Concerns|
|01/07/09||*W||Pastor Bill Cummins||Bear Creek Community Church|
|01/21/09||Pastor Bill Johnson||First United Methodist Church|
|02/04/09||*||Pastor Steve Newman||First Baptist Church|
|02/18/09||*G||Pastor Marianne Weethee||Heartland Community Church|
|03/04/09||W||Arlene Proctor||First Reader Christian Science Church|
|03/18/09||*G||Assoc. Pastor Dwight Friesen||Vinewood Community Church|
|04/01/09||B,G||Rev. Alan Kimber||First United Methodist Church|
|04/15/09||B,G||Reverend David Hill||Grace Presbyterian Church|
|05/06/09||*||Pastor Matthew Duerr||Zion Reformed Church|
Where are the non-Christian prayers in there? Non-existent.
I doubt that’s going to change. It’ll only get more religiously charged now.
FFRF will continue to keep an eye on the situation and they’ll file a lawsuit if needed.