Last week, I mentioned how the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors in Virginia began each meeting with a prayer to Jesus Christ.
An anonymous woman had sued the city in response — but a judge ruled that the only way for the lawsuit to proceed was if she revealed her identity.
In a country where atheists can get harassed for simply suggesting, “If people want to pray, they should do it privately, not during the taxpayers’ time,” it’s no surprise the person wanted to keep her identity hidden.
But the lawsuit is too important and Barbara Hudson is making herself known:
The lawsuit against the board is not an attack on anyone’s religion, Hudson said. Supervisor-led sectarian Christian prayers during public meetings amount to government promotion of one religion over others. That creates a danger to everyone’s religious freedom, she said.
Why don’t the supervisors just pray to one God, with an all-encompassing invocation? Hudson asked.
“They could have avoided the whole thing by praying in the name of God,” said Hudson, who is not a Christian. “They want to promote their own version of religion.”
“I just think it’s very sad that the board of supervisors refuses to embrace the idea of God as a source of comfort and guidance, that it has to be sectarian religion,” Hudson said.
Hudson declined to reveal her faith.
“I think religion is a very deeply personal issue,” Hudson said.
Well, it wouldn’t have been ok if they prayed to a generic God, either, but at least the lawsuit can continue.
Without taking a stance on the issue at hand, the Danville Register & Bee still made a salient point in an editorial:
On Valentine’s Day, we learned that Jane Doe was Hudson.
The symbolism of that date represents a challenge to those people who are frustrated and angered by this lawsuit. At the very least, Hudson should be treated with tolerance, regardless of how one feels about this lawsuit and the core issue of public sectarian prayer by elected government officials.
This community will be judged, in part, by what happens to Hudson from here on out. Knowing her name shouldn’t change her life. She should be left alone. That’s not an endorsement of her stand against the Board of Supervisors, it’s simply the only decent thing to do.
The point is that we have to live with one another, regardless of how we feel about this case. No community, including this one, can afford to allow its angriest members single out one person for scorn and ridicule, even if the majority believes she’s wrong about some of the most important things in their lives.
Let’s hope she stays safe and wins her case.