Elmhurst City Council Wants to Waste Taxpayer Time By Praying

It hurts that much deeper when it happens in your neck of the woods.

The mayor of Elmhurst, Illinois, Pete DiCianni, thinks that each City Council meeting should open with a prayer.

“We’ve got a lot of parishes in this community that can be represented,” he said. “We’re doing God’s work up here, and we may need (prayer).”

DiCianni said leaders of all faiths would be invited.

Not only is that bad policy, it highlights how uninformed DiCianni is. When other cities have attempted to wedge religion into local politics, it becomes the focus of the debate (and even the subject of lawsuits that waste thousands of taxpayer dollars). Other (real, serious) issues have to be pushed to the side so that some local politicians can pontificate about how much they love Jesus. Even when leaders of other faiths are invited, their numbers pale in comparison to the Christian pastors. And it’s a rare day when a Humanist is invited to deliver an invocation.

Yesterday, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to DiCianni and the City Council (PDF):

Government prayer is unnecessary, inappropriate, and divisive. Calling upon Council members and citizens to rise and prayer [sic] (even silently) is coercive, embarrassing and beyond the scope of secular city government. Council members are free to pray privately or to worship on their own time in their own way. They should not worship on taxpayers’ time.

At least one official realizes how absurd this mayor’s suggestion is:

“We have been elected to do city business and opening our meetings with prayer and discussing the possibility of opening our meetings with prayer has the potential to bog us down in the discussion of whether this is appropriate,” [First Ward Alderman Diane Gutenkauf] said. “I would prefer to keep church and religious issues separate from governmental issues.”

Gutenkauf also expressed concern with how manageable it would be to include all faiths and those with secular views in the opening prayer.

“How do we cover everybody?” she said. “What if we can’t find a representative of a faith to show up?”

Why is it so hard for Elmhurst officials to stick to the jobs they were elected to do?

Mayor DiCianni owes the citizens of Elmhurst an apology for trying to turn Council meetings into a universal church for everyone.

  • Ron in Houston

    Well at least there are voices of reason in that town.

    Apology? Yeah, like that’s going to happen!

  • bronwynm23

    That said, Elmhurst is one of the few municipalities that doesn’t tack on “so help me God” when swearing people in at public hearings. (However, I don’t know if that’s Elmhurst’s policy or the court reporter’s.)

    The Dupage County Board (in which Elmhurst is located) also opens each meeting with a prayer.

  • Baconsbud

    I have a question. What is the best way to address this type of activity by a city council? I live in a small city in the south and have only started paying attention to their meetings and it does appear that they open it with a prayer. I haven’t witnessed this myself but have seen transcripts which state that a prayer was said at the opening.

  • Tony

    Do these people not understand how creepy they sound when they say that they are “doing God’s work”? It’s the sort of thing a serial killer in a cheap novel says.

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Iason Ouabache

    “We’re doing God’s work up here, and we may need (prayer).”

    No, you are doing the People’s work up there. All of the people, not just those that agree with your limited sectarian beliefs. Stop pontificating and go pray in your closet.

    @Tony: You know who else claimed he was doing “God’s work”? HITLER!

  • Ben Zalisko

    There is an Elmhurst College SSA with about 10 people who could go to a meeting. What do you guys think they should do?

  • Tony

    “@Tony: You know who else claimed he was doing “God’s work”? HITLER!”

    And Peter Popoff!

  • http://nekosensei.livejournal.com nekosensei

    Well…I know who I’m not voting for next election…

  • http:undergroundunbeliever.blogspot.com Anna Lemma

    You should check out what is going on here in Lancaster, CA. Not only just sectarian prayers, sectarian prayers that are only given by a few select Evangelical ministers. They mayor is openly taunting the ACLU, who are currently suing the city.

    In addition to this,the mayor is putting church run houses in several neighborhoods. Only Evangelical Christian of course. He brags that he wants his church to send buses to make kids go to Sunday school. It’s very creepy. He also supports an unmanned spy drone surveilling the city.

    I’ve documented this on my blog.

  • muggle

    Wow, Anna, that’s scary stuff. A chill went up my spine especially watching that video. I also had the creepy thought that it’s a matter of time before some child is molested in that house. Hope to hell I’m just being paranoid. But it isn’t paranoid to say that anyone not their particular brand of Christian is in danger there.

    Also found it very interesting that he was proposing these houses instead of working to shorten the work day for all these busy children. He fancies himself the Pied Piper or something? Stealing their kids instead?

    I wrote FFRF and AU regarding the City Councilman in Albany. Haven’t heard from FFRF yet but hope they do the same thing here. It’s why I wrote even though I don’t have standing as I live in a suburb. AU’s looking into it.

    Looks as if I’m not the only one turning to them for help.

  • http:undergroundunbeliever.blogspot.com Anna Lemma

    Hi muggle. Yeah, it’s very scary. I think the mayor is a complete control freak. He wants all of the citizens in Lancaster to be just like him, whether or not they want to. I’m just glad I live in a town about 10 miles away.

    Several years ago, there was a Pagan shop that tried to open. The owners got death threats, they were always being picketed by some of the more right-wing crazy in the town, and of course, got no support from law enforcement.

  • http://kaleenamenke.blogspot.com Kaleena

    Whoa! my google reader just got pooped on with 10 new posts!


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